When we are small, we are (hopefully) showered with kisses from our foreheads to our toes; tickled, cooed over and snuggled into warm embraces, where our parents inhale the smell of our hair and revel in the warmth of our skin.
As we head towards secondary school these expressions of love become more than a little embarrassing and our parents must settle for a cheek turned upwards to receive a peck, and cuddles reserved for snuggling on the sofa in front of a film where they can be secretly enjoyed without looking uncool.
Then at some point we become curious about what a lust-filled kiss might contain. Desire and confusion collide and we find ourselves wading through a mire of revulsion, rejection, collision of teeth and wondering if we're ever going to kiss someone where it doesn't taste weird, involve dribble or feel like a tongue-fight. Eventually (and again hopefully) we find someone we can get it right with.
There's a natural order here, from being a recipient of joyous, love-filled fluttering lips, to the sheer excitement of a great snog that - who knows - could end up with a little one to shower your own kisses on one day.
Where is doesn't quite work is when it comes to the small matter of colleagues and new friends. Kissing people as a greeting or goodbye is not yet programmed into your average British person's DNA. Some do, some don't, some try and get it spectacularly wrong. Like the former colleague who attempted to kiss me on the cheek, misjudged it, and pecked me on the mouth. I was stunned, he was mortified, his colleague was crying with laughter.
I've seen teenage school-friends kiss each other goodbye where it's been unbelievably awkward - it's bad enough trying to control the flailing limbs of a body you're not sure about, without the added weirdness of trying to figure out the 'correct' way to kiss goodbye the friend you with whom you've shared nothing beyond tutor group, and who you're going to see again in the morning. I'm certain that it wasn't a thing when I was a teenager, I'm sure we just said 'see ya' (oh yes, I was classy even then).
I am guilty of this as an adult. In spending too long wondering if the person that I want to give a hearty hug to is going to be happy to receive it, the moment is lost and I am the awkward teenager which just makes the whole thing odd - although thankfully I am yet to accidentally kiss someone on the mouth.
So how to get it right? The people that carry it off, that do it best, are the ones that just go all out and do it. I have a friend who gives everyone the warmest kiss hello and goodbye and I'm not talking about a vacuous 'mwah'. You may have known her a month or a lifetime, but the greeting is the same. You can't help but be charmed or cheered up by it, and I've yet to see anyone turn away because it's absolutely her. Another friend offers languorous long-armed hugs that wrap you in and make you feel centred. One lady I know ends her emails with 'love and light' and when you meet her you know it's always meant. They are open, accepting and authentic, and they encourage me to do the same. So whilst my greetings are sometimes awkward, I hope you'll find in my writing my confident kiss.
Soundtrack: Kissing with Confidence - Will Powers