Jan 30, 2005
When two people meet for the first time (usually girl/guy or girl/girl) they give each other what's called bisous (pronounced bee-zoos). It's pretty much touching left cheek to left cheek and kissing, then repeating it for the right cheek. You don't kiss the person, but you make the kiss sound and motion. Bisous are also done as a greeting between two people who know each other well. In this case, they are even done by two guys.
As a non-French person, this is very awkward for me. I never know if a girl I'm introduced to will expect this or what. Usually, they will initiate it. It's still pretty uncomfortable. In one instance, we ran into one of the teachers Lauren works with at one of her schools. She introduced me to her and the woman leaned in to give me the bisous. The first one went off with no problem, but when we switched to the right cheek for the kiss, something went awry. I don't know if it was my fault - being utterly inexperienced - or hers, but instead of our cheeks touching, it was almost the corners of our mouths that touched. Either way, we got way too close to actually giving each other a real kiss. After she left, I told Lauren about it and of course blamed it on her teacher trying to get some American action. After all, she was young and pretty cute.
As I've said before, this is done as an introduction between a girl and a guy or two girls. I'm not really sure of the etiquette between two guys being introduced. But, to save myself from the possibility of kissing another guy, whenever I am introduced to someone new I immediately stick out my hand to shake.