Men don't kiss each other in the West. And I think that might be a shame.
I say "might" because I'm not completely sure I'd like to live in a society that encourages kisses of friendship and greeting amongst men, but I think I would. Being able to show a little love and a little courtesy in so effective a way seems most agreeable.
So let's talk about it.
Men used to be affectionate toward each other even in the West. Ideas of privacy, modesty, and sex, combined with realities of economy and technology, meant that people did things together that today we can only see through a sexual lens.
People lived much more intimately. Brothers (and sisters) slept together as children. Men slept together when travelling or working. Men bathed together. Men shat together.
Men had the same friends all their lives, as had their fathers before them.
Now, this week I'm going to post several "that's kinda gay" posts. The overarching theme is the loss of male intimacy due to sexualization and cowardice. I'm not going to get into all that mess just yet.
I want to focus on kissing.
Here in the South some parents kiss their kids on the lips when saying goodnight or goodbye. Seeing that still gives me a little shock. What's more, I've known some good old boys who would kiss their fathers on the lips when they're grown. As far as I know, this is the only American sub-culture that does that.
It's jarring and it creeps me out.
But it shouldn't.
Some men can kiss each other if they have an excuse. That's how all my man-kisses are. I have a unique relationship with a guy I've known for twenty years. We say "I love you" to each other. Yeah, it's weird. I've kissed him a couple of times in moments of intense gratitude. So that's a reason. But most of my sweet man-kisses have been on the field of athletic endeavor.
You need a reason to show affection. Dudes will hold each other and snuggle in close when they have drinks and cigars in hand, posing for the camera. Same with sports. The endeavor forms the bond, and celebration is the reason to express it.
I see kisses every week when I watch rugby, but I've seen them on basketball courts, baseball diamonds, and soccer fields. Obviously, football players can't kiss because of their helmets, but I wonder if they would if they could.
Here's a more intimate than usual rugby kiss.
This post is not a call to action. I don't know what exactly I'd say. "Look for opportunities to kiss your friends"? All I'm really saying is that it's too bad men don't kiss.
Since I was thinking about this, I pondered the mechanics of a man kiss. You know, on the lips. I can think of two great civilizations in which men kiss each other on the lips, the Russian and the Persian. Must be a Caucasus thing.
Do you remember when Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Khrushchev kissed? Sure you do.
So here's what I've decided.
I could be down for man-kissing, but not in a modern Soviet sort of way. By that I mean, no shaving. There must be facial hair. The Russians of yore had mighty beards. I can see why they were able to kiss each other.
Even a simple Iraqi mustache would help. There's nothing on the bottom lip, but the top lip of an Iraqi man is usually covered with a magnificently thick mustache.
My friends, you're on notice. I'm going to be kissing you more. It's happening. For your sakes and mine, grow out your beards.
Isn't it wonderful how one manly behavior leads to another?
Here's the video version of this post. I greet you with a holy kiss.