My family went to an art exhibit opening and reception last summer at Wailoa Art Center in Hawaii. Afterwards, my son – “Little Brother” – pouted all night because he saw me kissing the artist, “that man.” He cannot kiss me ever again, he says, and he rubs and rubs his skin with his shirt, to wipe off every last kiss that I give him.
I try to explain that, actually, I was kissed by the artist, that sometimes people kiss hello on the cheek just like others shake hands. But he will have none of it. This is not the first time we have had this conversation, but what am I supposed to do? The artist, the man in question, is over 80 years old! That is a really funny (and completely irrelevant) distinction when you think about it from Little Brother’s point of view. He is four years old, and I am ten times his age; I would gain nothing by pointing out that the artist is (only) twice my age. So I explain that in Hawaii, it is part of the culture to hug and kiss hello, that even my parents now hug and kiss hello (although this took them a few years to get used to).