(My two year old son kissing his two-year old cousin.)
It may surprise you that in “Meet Me Under The Eiffel Tower” the longest chapter is on kissing. I cannot under-estimate its importance. From the moment of birth, when we get that first maternal kiss on the forehead, to our death bed when loved ones step up to say their final adieu, kissing adds a dimension to our lives that cannot be disputed. It is one of the best ways of nurturing and being nurtured. But, let’s face it, between birth and death there is a whole lot of kissing going on.
The Chinese knew this long ago: “Kissing is like drinking salted water. You drink and your thirst increases.”
I remember my first kiss. Do you? I still remember his name: Lenny J., who attended the last two years of grammar school together. We were thirteen and he was about to move. He told me later that his older brother urged him on the eve of the move, to claim that first kiss before it was too late. Over he biked to my house.
In Chicago we all had stoops and families would hang out in the summer evenings talking. Teenagers would wait till their parents went indoors and then hung out with their friends. Today, it would be called “chillin”. I could see Lenny was nervous. After hemming and hawing for some time, he told me the truth: he wanted to kiss me. I, at thirteen, felt my heart beating wildly but I didn’t want him to know that. I waited till he made the first gesture. Eventually, with my eager anticipation (and implied consent), he placed a five-second kiss square on my lips. Then he looked down, exhaled loudly, clearly ready to faint! I could hardly process it all myself. With renewed courage, “One more” he suggested and I received my second kiss. I was thrilled. He was relieved. He got up to leave; we both, indeed, needed to think about what we had just experienced.
Why is a kiss so important? For two thirteen-year olds, it was the first sign of maturity. It was the awakening of something we had not yet experienced, the connection of two persons in one, the intimacy of crossing over that bridge from friendship to more. It was surrender at its most innocent form. It was the official, coming-of-age acknowledgement that I was a girl and he was a boy. That sweet memory has stayed with me for fifty years. That and a few more I’d sooner forget.
Do you remember your first kiss? Your worst kiss? Stay tuned, we have more on those kisses coming up all this month, the month of love.