Hand-Kissing-art - 1/20/11
"Ioseph of Locksley's Handy Guide to Cavalier Hand-Kissing" by Ioseph of Locksley.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
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Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: Joe.Bethancourt at f148.n114.z1.tvbbs.UUCP (Joe Bethancourt)
Subject: Hand Kissing
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1993 10:28:02 -0700
IOSEPH OF LOCKSLEY'S HANDY GUIDE TO CAVALIER HAND-KISSING
-Ioseph of Locksley
(c) copyright 1993 W.J. Bethancourt III
Hand-kissing is a wonderful means of greeting a lady. It is very common, and unfortunately very commonly abused, in the SCA. Hopefully, this short article will help us do it right.
First of all, one kisses the hand in only two social situations:
1) If you already know the lady, and she offers her hand, or
2) If you are being introduced to her, and she offers her hand.
DO NOT run around grabbing any lady's hand, and kissing it, at random. They might just eviscerate you on the spot, and any person witnessing said evisceration will only point and laugh at your social faux pas. Or help out by handing the lady a dull knife or two......if she offers her hand to be kissed, kiss it. If not, DON'T!
(You can "cue" her to offer her hand by extending yours. Be prepared, however, to convert the extension into a flourish of your reverence to avoid the embarrassment of standing there with your hand out looking like a beggar asking for alms......)
There are several degrees of hand-kissing:
1) With -dry lips-, bend over the hand in a courtly manner, and make the motions of a kiss over the back of the hand. Do NOT touch the hand with your lips. This is correct when first introduced, and is always correct in any situation.
2) With -dry lips-, bow as above, and kiss the back of the hand, GENTLY. This is correct if you know the lady already. It is NOT correct if you have not been introduced previously.
a) You can express "I am overwhelmed by your beauty" by not simply bowing, but by -kneeling- before you kiss her hand. This gives a good opportunity to look longingly into her eyes. Make sure her arm will reach you as you kneel....if you yank her over on top of you, you will need to move to another planet and change your name. Remember the axiom: "The Society -never- forgets!" Or, if you are lucky, accept your evisceration stoically.
The above forms are the generally accepted means of hand-kissing.
What follows are more -intimate- kisses that should NOT be done simply whenever you want to, but ONLY to those ladies that would enjoy it........and be ready to apologize PROFUSELY if they take offense! If you are unsure AT ALL of the lady's reaction, DON'T DO IT. You don't know her well enough to do it if you can't be -absolutely sure- of her response. (Don't let your own ego get in the way of your analysis of her possible reactions...!!) And, needless to say, (but it -must- be said) these last three are extremely -off limits- to ladies under legal age!
3) Bend over the hand, gently turn it over, and, with -dry lips-, kiss the -palm-. This implies extreme admiration for her beauty, and adoration-at-a-distance. Close the lady's hand on the kiss, afterwards, and murmur something nice, like "I pray you, keep this as a memory of me..."
4) Bend over the hand, gently turn it over, and with as dry a tongue as you can manage, lick it. This implies extreme admiration for her beauty, and a wish for a more....ah....intimate acquaintance. It takes a great deal of sprezzatura ("cavalier attitude") to carry this off well. Don't try it unless you are confident of your ability to deliver on the implied promise.....and you are very confident the lady will not kill you on the spot. Don't try it if you can't "play Cavalier" very well indeed, because you will only come off as a lout otherwise.
The last form might be considered offensive by some. DO NOT try it unless you are on very intimate terms (not necessarily sexual!) with the lady. I have made Duchesses' knees buckle with this one:
5) Bend over the hand, just a little, so you can look into her eyes (you will need to raise the hand a bit to do it), gently spread the fingers apart, and, with a dry tongue, and using only the tip, lick gently between two of the fingers, on the web. This is an obvious promise....DON'T do it unless you are willing and able to keep it.
Notice that I have always specified, "dry". Wet, sloppy kisses are Not Appreciated.
The practice of sucking on fingers is gauche, and the business of kissing the hand, and continuing the kisses up the arm is simply stupid, or good as a comedic turn. Clicking the heels as one kisses her hand is out-of-period.
When saying farewell, one may kiss the hand -if it is offered-. If the lady offers her cheek, kiss it as in (2) above, gently and with -dry- lips.
Hand-kissing is an art form, and should be used along with courtly bows, flourishes of one's hat, and all the rest of the "bells and whistles" that go with courtly behavior.
But......tread lightly! When you kiss a lady's hand, you go where even angels fear to tread.
And: NEVER EVER force your attentions on the lady in ANY manner. Such an action is the mark of an uncultured boor, and places you in the category of "waste of food and air on an overcrowded tourney field."
Permission is granted for this article to be reprinted in non-official SCA and SCA-related publications. Send a copy of the publication to Joe Bethancourt, PO Box 35190, Phoenix, AZ 85069