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Pucker Up

by Stephen Lautens


May 2, 2003

My wife caught me not kissing another woman.

It all started so innocently. My wife and I had found a babysitter on Saturday afternoon, and we were out on the town alone in the middle of the day. No stroller. No bag of wipes, diapers and cookies. No stopping every five feet to pick up a discarded toy. No child who can occasionally act like a 25 pound bag of wet weasels. The freedom was overwhelming. I can now imagine what a prisoner feels like when he gets out on day parole. I can also understand people who want to jump bail and not come back.

On our stroll down the street I spotted a woman who bore an uncanny resemblance to someone my wife and I went to college with more than fifteen years ago. To make a long story short, it was her, and the three of us stopped to catch up.

That’s when it happened. Or didn’t happen, to be more accurate.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve never been much of a social kisser. I’ve always thought that kissy-kissy stuff between near strangers was a little odd. A while back a friend of mine came back from Europe, and was kissing everyone in sight. He was even kissing his men friends on both cheeks. Planting a smacker on your friends’ wives and girlfriends just makes me uncomfortable, although I’ve slowly gotten used to turning the other cheek as something some people expect.

Occasionally, I’ll even take the initiative, like I did last Saturday. As the three of us began to say our hellos, I leaned in to give our long lost friend a chaste peck on the cheek.

It’s not as if she recoiled in horror (although I have had some experience with that reaction to my advances too), but she leaned back with the finesse of a champion boxer so my lips caught nothing but air. Undeterred, I leaned in a little further, but still no contact. My lips were just left hanging there, flapping in the breeze.

I though I had her sized up pretty well as a social kisser. I was wrong.

Now I felt like both a boob and a lecher. The look on her face told me she had no idea what I was trying to do, but whatever it was I had better knock it off. I slowly reeled my unwanted lips back in and offered my hand for a belated shake. I’ve been told I have a pretty good handshake, and even my double handed grasp for extra warmth comes off as pretty sincere, but it was too late to recover and she wasn’t having any of it anyway.

I didn’t dare look over at my wife, who had witnessed the whole sordid thing. It isn’t often that you get to treat your wife to the spectacle of being shot down by another woman. Smooth.

For the rest of our stilted conversation I wrapped my arms firmly around my body where they could stay out of harm’s way. My lips remained dry and pursed. My only other contribution to the conversation from that point on was to cheerfully ignore my wife’s subtle warnings and happily explain that we had recently had dinner with a close friend of her ex-husband.

Maybe that’s why social kissing was invented in the first place - to keep people like me from using their lips for more dangerous things.

© Stephen Lautens 2003

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