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27.11.10

Hola, amiga/muchacha/ señora/señorita. ¿Como estas?

I debated whether to jump straight in with a different topic, a bit of promotion or whether to offer some sort of introduction in view of this being my first Hitting the Hot-Spot post. As I do like to be polite - well, some of the time - I opted for the latter. However, that decision raised another predicament because I’m not all that new here. Although I’ve been around on TEB for a while, I’ve been kinda dormant of late so an introduction is not strictly appropriate. Therefore, a simple greeting is more fitting.

It got me thinking about salutations in general, not least because the initial meeting between characters that are strangers to each other is all important. First impressions count in life and literature.

Ordinarily, I’m quite a low-key greeter: polite good morning/afternoon, firm handshake (because I hate a limp handshake) for people I have just met. I tend to be a little more animated when it comes to family and friends, or people I haven’t seen in a while, but still never too over the top. I put this down to being a middle child; I like to blend in and not demand too much attention, (“she said, unable to hide the glint in her eye despite her sober expression.”) However, it can become difficult to stick to the status quo when you encounter those that like their greetings a little more dramatic.

For me, hugs and continental cheek kisses are reserved for family and close friends, it is a bit much from near strangers. There are some people that it is just lovely to greet warmly no matter how often you might see them, but this doesn’t apply to the majority, for me. Sometimes, you don’t want to be that close to people you don’t know, especially when the smell of cigarette smoke, coffee or booze is involved. Even when a cheek kiss is appropriate, you then have to worry about numbers. One – fine, two – hmm okay, three – a touch greedy perhaps.

Besides actions, language is also something that needs to be considered, hence the title. I love the Spanish language even though, alas, I am far from fluent. But I know enough to use different greetings according to the situation. Different titles according to the person – much like in English. Imagine a good old Cockney, for example, going into an interview and opening with: “Y’alright bruv, ‘ow ya doin’ geez?” Not only inappropriate but much more difficult to get your head around than: “Good afternoon, Mr Bloggs. How are you?” A term of endearment from an adored one is wonderful, but being called “darling” or “love” by a stranger just makes me cringe.

Then there are those that are unnecessarily loud, somehow reaching a level of excitement that makes them shriek a greeting rather than using an appropriate volume. I have found it all too easy to unconsciously become louder until everybody is screaming.

Some of the most powerful greetings can come when nothing is said at all. I once created an entire fantasy after a lingering glance from a stranger whilst on the tram. I still remember him – from his cropped black hair to his pristine Fila trainers – though it was years ago... yum. It is that type of glance or slight eyebrow twitch that can inspire the first meeting between a hero and heroine. However, if you ask me to recall anything about strangers that wink at me, or those that say “smile, it might never happen”, I could only stare blankly.

When I’m in a certain mood or an advance is unwanted, one of the best ways to respond is in Spanish. “Lo siento, no hablo Ingles”. The resultant look of confusion is priceless. Mischievous? Me? Never!

With all this in mind, there is no fanfare, no production, no invasion of space. Instead, I offer a slight tip of the head, a smile and a wave as an I’ll be seeing you around or better still hasta luego.
Shermaine
Lady in Red due from TEB Jan 2011

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