Sunday, May 12, 2013


White Melburnians don't know how to introduce themselves. They don't know if they should do the handshake, the hug, the kiss or the hug 'n' kiss or the handshake with the half hug. They don't know if they should give you a dap, backslap, high five or low five, or whether they should do or say anything at all.

Do you kiss? But what if they go for the hug? You'll kiss their ear! How much pressure do you exert with your lips? If you're too gentle like a mother kissing an infant it'll be weird but going in too hard and punching them with your mouth isn't good either. And if you don't connect on a high five do you try again or go for the conventional handshake? How to recover if you spill your drink (or theirs) as you greet someone? What to do if you knock their glasses off their head while reaching for the hug? And if one person is sitting down do they stand up or should the standing person try to give them a squeeze and risk delivering a groin to the face?

Melbourne white people don't know what to do when they see someone they know. Do you go over to them and chat? But what if they don't want to chat? What if you just met them recently or met them years before but saw them recently? Does the protocol change if you're on the tram, in a bar or riding past?

There is also a pervasive assumption amongst white Melburnians that every person they've ever met will want to engage them in prolonged conversation. What's wrong with saying hello without breaking stride? What's wrong with a wave, a nod or a quick 'hello' as you walk past? White Melburnians will either have a deeply intimate and protracted conversation or completely ignore you. There is no middle ground for them. They prefer to pretend they didn't see you rather than say hello and keep walking. When meeting white Melburnians be prepared to be the first to introduce yourself. Offer your hand as you get their attention so they don't have to choose. They will appreciate it.