My first few days in France, I was introduced to the art of French kissing. No, not that French kissing, the cheek kiss they do as a way of greeting/introduction/nice-to-see-ya. This involves placing your cheek against someone else's and making a kiss sound in the air.
In Poitiers, I got used to doing one kiss on the right cheek to say hi to all my classmates every day, and two kisses for special friends, special occasions, if you were all kinds of enthusiastic about kissing someone, etc. In the south of France, especially among family friends, that number went up to three or four. Luckily, the girl just gets to wait for the guy to decide the number, so it involves no thinking or decision making regarding the social impact of going for two kisses when you only need one. Faux pas avoided. On the other hand, this also means that the girl has to be ready for any number of kisses coming her way.
Here in Jordan, they also use the kiss on the cheek as a greeting. However, I'm having quite a bit of confusion as to how many kisses to aim for. "Two," said one of the guys who lives next door, after I mistakenly tried to do the Poitiers kiss and pulled away after just one kiss (how embarrassing). One on each cheek. Ok. Sounds good. I can do that. A couple days later, I'm saying hi to some friends who stopped by the apartment. This time, I kissed both cheeks and went to pull away. The guy was still there. "Three in Amman," he insisted. What? We're going for three? Don't the natives even know how many kisses is appropriate?
So now my plan is to hover awkwardly in the general vicinity of someone's face until he is most definitely done cheek kissing me, while staring at his face avidly waiting for any sudden movements toward either of my cheeks. Embarrassment avoided.