fantroll stuffs

WORLDBUILDING MEME || traditions-customs-rituals 1/7

Wrist-kisses

“Quick as a flash, you whisk forward and kiss the insides of his wrists – two little smecks, like a fine lady in an old movie, just a bit more hasty.” 

– from this drabble

“[S]he holds her hands out, splayed wrists, wiggled fingers, and looks significantly at your sickle. You’ve seen this in movies – […]you’re supposed to kiss her wrists or cut them clear through…” 

– from Lost Teeth Like White Jewels, Chapter 2


The wrist-kiss was originally a highblood ritual of formalized trust and submission, in which person A offers the interior side of their wrists while person B kisses just above the veins. Person B is usually higherblooded*, higher-ranking, or more dominant than person A, and the gesture implies an almost-feudal acceptance of that dynamic: A is lowering their defenses and putting their life in B’s hands in a very intimate way, and B is showing mercy by forbearing from the violence that troll society deems normal and responding with affection instead.

(*Again, this is a teal-up thing, pretty much. Lowblood-highblood interactions are an entirely different set of behaviors, so, for example, a cerulean would offer their wrists to a purpleblood, but would not kiss the wrists of a rust.)

However, the custom has largely fallen out of practice in current times, except for some very, very old seadwellers. It’s chiefly used in movies or books, whether historical (to denote that This Is In The Past) or romance (to denote that It’s Gonna Get Steamy Up In Here). In the latter genre, there’s occasionally a subversion wherein a higherblood offers their wrists to a lower, changing the power dynamic between them. Troll Jane Austen has a lot of this, both subverted and played straight, and troll Austenites have written scads of excited meta about what exactly it means that Daarci offered his wrists to Elizae Bennet but Colinz expected to kiss hers instead. 

Anyone who actually does wrist-kisses nowadays is viewed as hopelessly old-fashioned: opinions vary as to whether it’s pretentious to the point of douchiness, or just quaint/charming in a ridiculous way. That said, something of the wrist-kiss has filtered into the modern mainstream, but as a pale trope rather than a political one.


When you hold out your hand for their card, the gesture is purposely casual, but you take care to make sure that the pale skin of your wrist is exposed. Little trust gestures like that tend to make your customers feel more friendly…

–from this thread, starring known palebait Pheres Dysseu


Exposed wrists are still seen as very vulnerable and intimate, both because of the inherent defenselessness and because the veins are closer to the skin in the wrists, showing one’s caste clearly. Also, it usually involves empty palms, which is as universal a symbol for weaponlessness and peace as you can get. Even deprived of the official meaning that the gesture once held, anything with palms-up-wrists-out reads as pacification, and the highbloods of long ago would be scandalized at some of the stuff pale-flirting trolls get up to.

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