A Good Kiss

Recently, I shared a good kiss with someone I hadn’t considered attractive before. I’m pretty sure he hadn’t considered me attractive either. Don’t get excited, o ye who believes my “cheese stands alone” stance is by default rather than elective. This story doesn’t come with a happy ending–at least, not of the “happily ever after” variety.

That said, it was a very nice kiss, even if this gentleman lives somewhere sunnier and slower and neither of us are inclined to change a zip code on the grounds of a good kiss. Maybe when we were younger, though I highly doubt we’d have stuck to it–he’s not the sort to be seduced by the bigger mirror of New York and I’m eternally certain nothing tops a subway ride in which everyone’s an outsider.

He was on my coast for work and I could tell he’d almost not looked me up since the last time we’d seen each other I’d been a real sour grape; the poor guy always seemed to surface just as Mr. Oyster was landing another blow. But get in touch he did, albeit the day before he was supposed to leave. Maybe he reached out because the window (and mirror, so many mirrors) of social media suggested I was doing better, buzzing around like a freed little honey bee.

To be sure, this was a social call, not a booty call. We’re roughly in the same field so mostly we share puns and shop talk when he’s here, compare notes over coffee, that sort of thing. Yet from the minute we met up this time, it was clear we were digging each other’s rays in the hot summer sunshine. For both of us, I think, it was that feeling of a beloved paperback in the backpocket, a rose so lush it’s about to drop. For Gen Xers who read a lot as kids, it’s a great feeling.

At the lunch spot I’d chosen–not too far from my house, not so close I’d have to invite him up–we talked and talked, fun and funny flowing into big and bigger confidences, and eventually wine was ordered, and I found myself looking longer and longer into his eyes and being met with a long-lashed intensity whenever I did. He was saying such smart things that I was taking them in despite how we were looking at each other and, then, well, he had to go. Meet other friends, people who, I am sure, were not sour grapey when he saw them in person. Maybe they were plans he could have moved around if he’d wanted to but I wasn’t so young as to expect that of him, at least in terms of self-esteem cues. The resurrection of chemistry, that slowed-down bloom of senses and sources, was enough to remind me nothing had died no matter how much scar tissue my vital organs–heart, head, hope–had sustained.

I walked him to the corner and we did the both-coast social kiss–quick peck, one cheek–and just as I was breaking away he slid his lips to mine and


I can tell you that when we both were young I would not have found him appealing though many must have gone for his matinee idol looks. Back then, I always read fuller bottom lips as permanent pouts and those long lashes would have seemed like the most obvious ploy in the book. Let me be the pretty one; you bring the throwdown,was basically my motto. Likewise, I doubt he’d have soldiered past my sharp edges the way he was doing now with long fingers tracing through my hair and down my back.

So, yes, we kissed and we weren’t just kissing shadows of our younger selves but the better people we’d become, and this was such a relief. So often what people my age are seeking in romance are confirmations of dreams that should have been retired long ago. A street corner kiss, toe-curling and time-stopping, between two people who’ve had the decency to grow up is a crash course in how satisfying short stories can be. A street corner kiss you weren’t expecting, especially.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy