Elegant manners are unfortunately a thing of the past. Holding a door open for a lady is no longer delivered with a dash; offering her your seat or standing when she enters a room may be seen as gauche.
Unused to small courtesies, younger women may feel a little embarrassed when you open a car door for them or help them on with their coat. Do you still tip or raise your baseball cap to a lady?
The ultimate in gallantry was surely hand-kissing. To get a preferred lady eating out of your hand you need first to kiss her hand. There is a right way and a wrong way. If you get it right then the door to her boudoir and her inner sanctum is open. Get it wrong and you sleep in the garden shed.
Hand-kissing is not uncommon in certain social circles or societies. In Poland, the salutation shows impeccable taste in manners and in ladies.
Hand-kissing is a wonderful way to greet a lady. There are only two social occasions when hand-kissing is acceptable: If you already know the lady or if she has been introduced to you and she offers her hand.
Never raise the lady’s hand to your lips. The art demands that you stoop to kiss her hand but you don’t actually do so. The correct procedure is to bend in a courtly manner and gently place your hand under her palm at which point your thumb will cross her knuckles. Bending as in a curtsy you then brush your thumb with your lips. Only if you know the lady is it permissible to touch the back of her hand with your lips.
If you are something of a roué, a bit of a lad, that is, then there are variations on a theme which are a little more intimate. I do hope you know what you are getting yourself into. Get it wrong and you’ve got problems so be sure the lady concerned isn’t likely to take offence.
Gently turn the palm of her hand upwards and with dry lips kiss her palm. This implies extreme adoration. You then close the lady’s hand on the kiss and murmur something along the lines of: ‘I pray you; keep this as a memory of me.’
If you lightly lick her palm it suggests you wish for a more intimate acquaintance. If you can’t do it with élan then don’t do it as she will kill you where you stand.
There is a variant but don’t try this one unless you are on very intimate though not necessarily sexual terms with the lady. You can bring a duchess to her knees when this approach is delivered with a cavalier flourish.
Raise her hand just far enough so you can gaze like a spaniel into her eyes. Then with a dry tongue gently lick the cleft between her two middle fingers. If she swoons then catch her and do make sure you remembered to bring your Viagra.
The no-go areas of hand-kissing: You never force your attention on a lady; you respond to her hand being offered. If her glove remains on then forget the hand-kiss of any kind.
Wet sloppy kisses or sucking her finger suggests you are a prize twit. Clicking your heels is out of period. And, you will make a laughing stock of yourself if your kisses continue up your lady’s forearm.
Hand kissing is an art form and should always be done with panache, a courtly bow and a murmured appreciation. Good luck … to both of you.
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