I am one of those people who doesn’t like to be touched, not on an everyday basis. Not by friends, and certainly not by strangers. I make accommodations for my husband, however, albeit grudgingly. Of course, if I haven’t seen someone in awhile, a good friend, a family member, a hug is in order, the same if we are parting for a long time. But if you make friends with me expecting affection, forget it. For the most part, my friends and family have accepted this misanthropic peculiarity of mine, although they do at times question my propensity for giving the cats an unlimited supply of TLC. Cats are cats. They are furry and they are soft. They don’t ask for too much.
Personal space is king in
I am pretty sure you can’t translate the term “personal space” in Greek. At least, Greeks seem to have no understanding of what this means, nor do they care. Greeks pile on each other in crowds, in queues, in grocery stores, shops. They touch your shoulder or your arm when they pass by you. Friends and family always require the double cheek kiss greeting, even if they just saw you the day before. Personal space is offensive to Greeks, an insult.
The problem is, I can’t come to terms with this. The friendly greetings amongst family and friends I can handle. The close proximity of crowds and queues I cannot. Once, in line somewhere, there was a woman who kept knocking up against my back. I would step forward a little so there was space. She would move right up next to me again. The line wasn’t moving, I was just trying to put some space between us. Every time I tried, she would move up next to me. I knew she couldn’t get it my purse, that she wasn’t trying to steal anything. She was just under the mistaken impression that touching the person in front of you makes the line go faster. After a few attempts at giving her some space, I had enough. I am not a violent person, not really, I am usually quite meek. But I backed up into her with as much force as I could muster, but in the same general way she was pressing forward against me. She stumbled, looked at me in shock, and proceeded to give me plenty of space for the duration of our wait.
I’ve often thought that perhaps whenever I am going to go into a crowd situation I should just put my arms out at my sides and spin around, that was no one will come near me. The downside of that is that everyone will think I am crazy, but Greeks pretty much think that about me anyway.
In the end, I’m not sure how I am going to learn to deal with the Greek proclivity towards close proximity contact. I guess I’ll have to learn to grin and bear it, or not go out in public too much. Then again, I can always just act like I’m insane.