A Midnight Rambler

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss

My evening appointment ran long and I found myself at the corner of Pearl and West 130th Street at 10 PM. It’s a nice neighborhood. It is just not my normal stomping grounds.

I studied the area around me as I waited for the light to change. In front of my Caravan was a little black Chevy pick-up. You know the type. It was one of those trucks that are purchased by people who really don’t need a truck.

The couple in the truck were talking softly. No gestures. They hardly moved as they spoke. Suddenly they leaned together and kissed gently. I don’t know why, but the kiss, their kiss, seemed strangely intimate. It wasn’t a long kiss. It appeared to be no different than thousands of long forgotten good-bye kisses I had shared over the years. But it was different.

The couple resumed their conversation after the kiss. The light changed. They went straight while I turned right to catch the freeway.

A sweet kiss. An innocent kiss. A kiss shared by young lovers. Cliché? Perhaps. But does the fact that these thoughts are common make them any less valid or desirable?

I remember my first kiss. I remember the long, agonizing walks from the car to the doorstep when maybe, just maybe, my date might reward me with that momentary thrill of physical intimacy. How was I to know that she was just as nervous, just as unsure as to what the rules really were?

Is it any different today than it was twenty plus years ago? Not much. The kids seem to age quicker, but they don’t really mature faster. They have the same fears and frustrations as we had when we were in junior high and high school. Their concerns are in some way reassuring. It proves that they aren’t THAT jaded. Innocence changed, but not lost. They’ll be fine.

But what about us? I know that it has been a long time since I have been considered innocent, but as someone starting over I need to know what the rules are in 1993.

I have passed from one serious relationship to another for almost twenty uninterrupted years. Since October 1973 I have never been “unattached” for more than 30 days. I’m wondering if withdrawal symptoms will kick in at the six week mark.

Of course my friends have complete faith in me. The barber shop by my office has a lottery set up to predict the next time I get married. Yes that is as tasteless as betting when an alcoholic will fall off the wagon, but a certain amount of abuse is inevitable.

Is a kiss just a kiss? I don’t think so. I think the first time, each first time, might be the best. The first kiss is the culmination of all our fears, indecision, and sexual tension overwhelmed by the sheer imperative of our need to touch.

It was 3 AM and I was thoroughly exhausted. I had gotten up at 6 the previous morning and had been at her home for about seven hours. We had talked endlessly abut the usual topics: kids, music, cooking, etc… The tension was wonderful. I noticed she touched me when she made a point. I’m a sucker for that. Was she going to kiss me? Would I make a move? I found myself strangely gun-shy.

The moment came as I was about to leave. A kiss. Softly, our lips met for a brief moment. It seemed that the tension evaporated as we hugged and then kissed again. And then I left.

It seems silly to assign so much value to something as common as a kiss. Whether it is the witnessed kiss between two strangers at a stop light or two friends in a kitchen, it is still just a kiss. And we know what a kiss is worth, don’t we?