Saturday, April 5, 2008

Man Kissing

The American military has a long history of sharing our culture with the countries we’ve…occupied. The Japanese picked up baseball. The Germans stopped invading countries for no good reason…wait, forget that one. So, you’d figure the Iraqis would learn something from us, and vice versa.

On the surface, the Iraqis don’t have much to offer. Women dressing in black sheets, mosques wailing to the RPG gods five times a day and a language that sounds like gargling. There is one social custom that the United States Army has begrudgingly accepted; the Man Kiss.

Iraqi men who barely know each other will kiss each other on the cheek during greetings. It is a little unusual to see, as men never kiss each other in America. First time I saw this, I was a bit surprised. Do I call the cops? Is it contagious?

Once two Iraqi men get to know each other well enough, the Man Kiss is expected. My boss sees enough important people around the area that he’s reached That Point with a number of Iraqis. They come up, shake hands, and lean in just enough to freak out my boss.

An American Soldier’s reaction to the Man Kiss is horror. The Army isn’t the most receptive organization to anything resembling homosexual conduct (but the current rule is Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Care). Now we’re surrounded by men who kiss each other and hold hands. Is their a power point presentation to explain this?

Ever had someone you weren’t too thrilled with try and kiss you? You can bob and weave, arm bar, fake a seizure, etc to avoid the unwelcome attention. Do this with an Iraqi and you’re incredibly rude. What do we do?

My boss has begrudgingly accepted the Man Kiss. I got a picture of his first Man Kiss, I’m saving it for a special occasion, like when he isn’t my boss anymore. Or right now.

What have the Iraqis learned from us? I tried to introduce them to the magic of bacon bits, but those are against their religion. Bacon bits aren’t technically food, shouldn’t be a problem.

They will show up for meetings on time. First tour, you tell an Iraqi to show up at 6, and he hears “Show up whenever you feel like.” It drove us nuts, we could never get a meeting going because the Iraqis wouldn’t show up. Now, they understand that Americans don’t do Iraqi time. Why? We have the money. They want to do business with us, they show up on time dadgummit.

What will the Army do with the Man Kiss once our Iraq misadventure ends? Pretend it never happened. Ask any Iraq vet if he was Man Kissed. The answer is no.

And now for fun: A wind chime made out of spent shell casings.

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