What was so creepy about John Travolta’s kiss and greeting to Scarlet Johannson? I didn’t quite get it, until I did: he didn’t ask if he could touch her. He just touched her.
Let me try greeting a friend and placing my palm on his stomach, or just on his thigh if we are sitting down together. Let me try tucking a lock of hair behind someone’s ear.
My father was always hugging men and women. That seemed pretty nice to me. But is it nice? Was it nice? Am I creeping people out when I, say, kiss them on the cheek to say hello?
I went to school with Europeans for a couple of years: the French kissed each other twice when they said hello. The Germans — who I mostly hung out with — kissed three times. I always thought this was kind of sweet, and usually still kiss a person once when saying hello.
Maybe it is time for me to retire that. Maybe I am actually ‘creeping someone out.’ Just because I kissed my German girlfriends in high school, or my French Besties in adulthood, does that mean I have the right to kiss people now? I mean, I’m not Jesus with Mary Magadelene: “Jesus loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth.”
Once I went to a writing workshop — I was about 25 — and we were asked to describe our lives in three words. Mine were Don’t Touch Me. Yet I have failed to extend this courtesy to others, just because of how I was raised. This appears to be my week of shame.
I have no idea why this is the case, but thanks to Nico Lang at Salon.com for pointing out today that she, as I, can read the look on Scarlet’s face here, and what she may very well be thinking — as she steels herself and keeps her gaze firm: