Traditional greetings vary. Handshakes, kisses, two kisses — regardless of how it’s done, I’ve made it awkward at some point. Yet, all my previous social disasters pale in comparison to the level of humiliation I brought on myself the night I met the Prince of The Devils, Lucifer.
I recently moved to Romania and have been attempting to make friends. My neighbors, Alex and Anca, invited me to a party across town. When we arrived, there were about twenty people inside, many who greeted me the traditional Romanian way, kisses on both cheeks. Usually, I mangle this greeting and kiss a stranger smack dab on the lips, but this time I avoided embarrassment. Still, I nervously shuffled away after each hello, uncertain of my ability to make small talk.
I kept to myself, sipping wine and nodding to strangers, and then thirty minutes after our arrival, excitement percolated through the party. I walked over to Anca and whispered, “What’s going on?”
She smiled and her eyebrows peaked skyward, “Lucifer is coming!”
“Lucifer who?” I asked.
“Lucifer full-stop, like Cher or Ronaldo.”
I laughed, “You mean Lucifer, The Prince of Darkness?”
Alex sniggered and placed his arm around me, “That’s not his name. He’s just Lucifer except when he’s drunk. Then he might refer to himself as The Great Red Dragon.”
I looked back and forth between the two of them.
“I don’t get it.”
“You’ll see,” Anca said with a smile.
Were they pranking me? I sipped my wine bemused, wondering what cultural nuance I’d missed. Within moments, an electric stir of activity came through the door.
Lucifer entered with the casual indifference of a man unaccustomed to worry or inconvenience. He was tall with shoulder-length brown hair needing a wash and a swarthy complexion with several days stubble scattered over his chiseled jaw. His piercing blue eyes scanned the room from below a formidable set of dark eyebrows. He wore six necklaces around his neck of varying lengths, which you could see because his powder blue linen shirt was unbuttoned to the middle of his six-pack abs. Scores of beaded bracelets decorated his wrists. I mean a lot of bracelets. He sported brown tapered trousers with the left leg ending unmistakably at a large black animal hoof and, more surprisingly, the right pant leg ending at an orange Croc shoe. He looked like a vegan I once met at a meditation retreat, but he was not vegan because he was noshing on chicken wings. I was stunned. This man was, sure as shit, the devil.
When he finished his wings, he placed the box of bones on a coffee table, licked his fingers, and addressed the room.
“Okay, party people, let’s get this over with.”
He unbuttoned his trousers and dropped them to the floor. He wasn’t wearing underwear and managed with impressive ease to kick off his pants and the orange Croc shoe in one fluid motion. He raised his left leg, which bent inward at the knee and was covered in light brown hair, and loosed a devious grin. Lucifer turned his back to the room and bent over at the waist, calling out over his shoulder, “Make it quick.”
Everybody except me began moving. I sipped my wine with a combination of curiosity and horror as one by one, revelers lined up in front of Lucifer’s bare ass and knelt, kissing his anus. All this while Bruno Mar’s Uptown Funk played in the background.
I stood mesmerized with the revolting scene before me and almost spilled my drink when someone whispered over my left shoulder.
“It’s called Osculum Infame or The Kiss of Shame. It’s how you greet, Lucifer.”
The whispered voice belonged to a gorgeous green-eyed woman with long, red hair framing her impossible cheekbones and Instagram model pout. “It’s tradition. You should line up.”
“ME?!?” I hissed, three decibels too loud.
She placed her index finger on my lips, “Come with me,” she cooed in a thick Romanian accent and took me by the hand, leading me to the end of the line.
As people finished their Kiss of Shame, they formed a silent circle around the rest of us and chanted softly. Soon the beautiful woman in front of me knelt and leaned into the devil’s tuchus, tenderly planting a kiss on his backside. She then stood and turned toward me, indicating with her head it was my turn. I froze. She nodded more assertively.
I knelt and stared at Lucifer’s crack. I’d never been into butt-stuff and I suppose this was why. Most butts are unattractive up close. I felt relieved to see it wasn’t hairy like his left leg. I expected Lucifer to smell like sulfur, but there was a potent whiff of patchouli to his backside. I sniffed a couple of times. It was patchouli and something else. Cabbage, maybe? While I pondered Lucifer’s scent, a pointed cough behind me urged me to get on with it.
As Smashmouth’s All Star began playing, I closed my eyes and timidly leaned forward, inserting my nose directly into Lucifer’s asshole, and kissed his dangling testicles. I opened my eyes as I pulled back, realizing I’d completely botched another greeting.
“Dude, you kissed my balls,” Lucifer said without turning around.
“No. No! I kissed your anus.” My voice sounded weird because I wasn’t breathing through my nose.
“I know what it feels like when someone kisses my sack. Try again so we can kick this party into high gear.”
I vigorously shook my head, “Mr. Lucifer, I kissed your a-hole.”
“Who the fuck says ‘a-hole?’ Tilt forward and give me a kiss, dude.”
I didn’t want to do it but I also didn’t want to be a culturally insensitive person who disregards other peoples’ customs. There are enough ugly Americans requesting bottles of ketchup in French bistros without me making a scene in a foreign land about the devil’s rectum.
Still mouth-breathing, I bowed forward again with my eyes closed and missed my mark once more, lightly kissing his balls as Smashmouth sang ‘Only shooting stars break the mold.’
“DUDE! Seriously?” Lucifer yelled at me from the other side of his butt.
“I’m sorry!” I yelled back, “I’m new to this.”
I darted in and planted my lips on his sphincter.
“WHOA, man! The fuck! I wasn’t ready!” he exclaimed.
“What do you mean you weren’t ready? I’m like the 24th person to kiss your ass tonight! How can you not be ready?”
I looked around the room and saw consternation glaring back at me as someone muttered, “We don’t have all night, American.”
I sighed and gave the devil a chaste kiss on his butthole.
“There you go,” Lucifer said, and righted himself. I stood up as he turned around and we were eye to eye.
“Wasn’t so hard, was it, Dude?” he quipped as someone handed him his trousers.
“It’s kind of a difficult angle.”
“Dude, it’s a straight shot. No one else had a problem. You kissed my balls twice.”
I shook my head at my cringe-worthy faux pas. “I know. I’m sorry. Is there a name for kissing the devil’s scrotum?”
“Yeah,” he said and patted me on the shoulder as he walked past, “weird.”
It’s mortifying when you’re trying to make friends but then screw up something as simple as a hello. An Osculum Infame should be easy to navigate without smooching Satan’s sack, and definitely not more than once.
Alex and Anca glanced at me then turned away as if they didn’t know me. I was pulling up the taxi app on my phone when I heard Lucifer call out.
“Hey, ballboy. We all make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up. You’ve got soft lips, by the way.” He winked at me before turning back to the gaggle of women surrounding him.
I noticed several strangers giving me sympathetic smiles. These people weren’t mocking me. I obsess over my missteps and crush myself with my insecurities. I tried something new, something I never thought I’d do. I didn’t get it right at first, but I kept at it.
One kiss, technically four, and a kind word from Old Nick, renewed my self-confidence. Across the room, I spotted the beautiful redheaded woman waving at me. I walked over to her and asked if she’d like to try out my soft lips. Turns out she’s a 13-billion-year-old succubus, but she’s also a Scorpio and tells me Scorpios and Pisces are very sexually compatible. She likes me for more than just my body, though. We have a date to play Scrabble next week.
Life is weird and can change in a matter of seconds. I didn’t believe in myself and I certainly didn’t believe in the devil, but he believed in me and that made all the difference. So, you know, hail Satan, Ruler of Darkness.
(That is one of his titles.)
About The Author
Brian is a failed philosopher turned almost-successful writer. He lives in Romania with his wife and dog and often writes about living in Romania with his wife and dog.
His work has appeared in several popular publications, none of which made his parents proud as they continue to ask when he’ll be in a real magazine, why he dropped out of law school, and why he uses the F-word.
If you want to see what else Brian is up to, you can go to his website or follow him on Twitter @brianabbey