The Kiss

The Kiss

I’m going to kiss and tell.

Actually, I’ve already done the kissing.   This is the telling part. Okay, I admit it. I’ve never kissed a celebrity, political corruption defendant, or my best friend’s husband.Even so, I pride myself on being a seasoned smoocher.

It started simply enough.  My mother, my father, Nana Anna. My dolls, my dog, and my picture of Bobby Sherman. David Cassidy didn’t make the cut. Ditto my brother.

But when high school rolled around, nothing, and I mean nothing, was ever simple again. Dating brought a whole new meaning to the kiss. Complications, physical and emotional, ensued.

There was my first kiss, or the-little-kiss-that-couldn’t.   It was less of a kiss and more of a nose-meets-eye, as poor Stevie Lindholm searched fruitlessly for my lips during that classic teen romance, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”   Stevie had a nice nose but it wasn’t all that I was looking for in a relationship.   We were over before the movie was.

I finally succeeded in getting lip-to-lip with my next beau, Jake.   Jake was two years older than I and was so sophisticated that he could light a cigarette from the electric coils on our stovetop.   His kisses were swift, sweet and on the mark.   It was kiss bliss for Jake and me, until that fateful incident in the school parking lot, scene of all fateful teenage incidents.

We stood face-to-face, propped up against his 1970, electric blue Trans Am.   “Free Bird” was whining from the car’s radio.   Just as Lynyrd Skynyrd reached its crescendo of non-commitment Jake tipped his head to my eager, uplifted face.   What came next shattered my belief in kissing as one of God’s greatest gifts to girlhood. Jake’s gum, followed immediately by his tongue, began swimming around my innocent young molars. It was more horrifying than anything the chainsaw massacre could dish up.   I broke the lip-lock violently and unleashed a blistering scream that sent gum hurdling to the ground like a speeding bullet.   Everyone in the parking lot stopped whatever immoral act they were committing at that moment and stared.   Ah, what I must have done for his fragile teenage ego.  

It took some time, but once I got past the initial shock, and slight revulsion, I began to appreciate what was known as the French kiss, spit-swap, and, for all you sports fans, tonsil-hockey.   Extended French kissing, or making out, was not without some charm.   I spent the next few years making out with a variety of young men whose names, or kisses, I cannot remember.   I did know their names at the time. I’m sure I did.

From there I have traveled a long and winding road paved with kisses of all shapes and sizes.   I have enjoyed two “I now pronounce you husband and wife” kisses, 4000 “I love your baby toes” busses and a gaggle of “Great to see you again, whatever-you-name-is” pecks.

However, one stands out prominently, even without Juicy Fruit.  

Friday, March 17, 1980, seven minutes past noon, McGillin’s Pub. I am a college senior celebrating my favorite saint, Patrick.   McGillin’s is packed with young executives in three-piece suits who have poured from their office buildings for a lunch of green beer.   The line-up at the bar is three deep as everyone stretches a fistful of dollars through 99 other arms in an attempt to secure a mug of fun. Blessed with unusually long arms, I am the designated buyer. I stand patiently in the last row of revelers and make a full visual sweep of the place.   When I turn back to the bar   my eyes rest on a dashing young businessman, with unusually long arms, whose eyes are resting on me.   We stare at each other openly and innocently. Within seconds, although it seemed to be in slow motion, he leans the short space between us and, with a mixture of gallantry and audacity, lays one on me.   It is brief, sweet and on the mark.   I don’t flinch, falter, or froth.   He moves back as smoothly and naturally as he moved forward. And my eyes never leave his.   Suddenly, the bartenders invite each of us to order and it’s over.   He disappears to his friends and I to mine.  

We never spoke aloud, we never arranged to meet. We never sat down to a meal, met each other’s parents, or wondered if we’d last.   We also never angered each other, hurt each other or, the worst, disappointed each other.   We were golden for 25 seconds. And it was enough.