Sarah Britten
Sarah Britten

Tannie-style kissing takes off

Who would have thought it? Lip-on-lip kissing, normally associated with ooms and tannies and oumas, has become fashionable in London.

“On the party scene, air kissing — that horrible ‘mwah, mwah’ used by the kind of people who know your job title and dress size but forget your name – is out,” noted the Daily Mail. “Instead, there’s a far worse social plague doing the rounds: being kissed on the mouth.”

Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older and entering a creaky new demographic, but I have noticed that this kind of greeting has grown in popularity over the past couple of years. Previously, my friends and I would hug each other or kiss each other on the cheek; now it’s lip-on-lip action with little option to present the side of one’s face at the last moment. When it comes to strangers, there’s always the awkward moment when one tries to assess the level of intimacy with which one’s counterpart is comfortable. Hug? Handshake? Kiss?

Usually this resolves into the awkward half-hug, in which one of us hugs, the other does not, and we make a fumbling attempt at compromise. Rather that than puckering up, though.

The Daily Mail quotes different views on whether this style of kissing is sexual. I have no doubt that it gives lecherous uncles an excuse to slobber over buxom young bokkies, but unless your proclivities are decidedly niche, there’s nothing remotely erotic about kissing a sweet old tannie on the lips.

Speaking of sweet old tannies, the Sydney Morning Herald asked Australia’s leading etiquette expert, June Dally-Watkins, what she thought.

“No. No. No. I’m not for that,” she said. “It’s far too intimate. I think it’s wrong. And I don’t think it’s healthy. My lips are special. Precious. Not even my children or grandchildren do I kiss on the lips. It should be reserved absolutely for that one special person.”

Now that lip-on-lip kissing is fashionable, what could be next? Helmet hair? Neil Diamond? Peppermint-crisp pudding made with condensed milk? In this world, it seems, anything is possible.