We had just left an exhibition opening at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and we were walking down a length of wide steps to the street.
My friend was a little taller than my shoulder. Raven black hair fell to her shoulders; it was parted in the middle and she was always brushing it back. The ridgeline of her nose was straight, almost sharp. She wore lipstick lightly, like the first blush on an apple. Her eyes were a deep blue, the color of sky at dusk before the blue turns black. She wore a raincoat, a Burberry and by chance I wore one too, but with the collar up. It was late fall. A few leaves scattered over the pavement and there was a nip in the air. We did not wear hats. She was married.
We were talking about some inconsequential happening at the party. An acquaintance from the opening passed us with a wave. My friend kept talking, almost whispering, about the people at the exhibition and I leaned my head over to hear her soft voice, and put my arm around her. She smelled fresh as the fall evening we were stepping into. No perfume. She laughed about a quip she heard and I did too and she looked up. I looked down, and it happened. We brought our lips together.
It was our first kiss, about three seconds long. Gentle, soft. No lust or desire or force but our lips vibrated. It was an instant commingling of…what? Our souls? Our being. A past life shared?
She tucked her head into my shoulder and, arms around each other; we walked north along Fifth Avenue. We said nothing.I shouldn’t say walked; we floated. We had found what all of us ever want, even if for a few moments. My body pulsed, my psyche, my soul, id, whatever it is, sang.
POP! WHACK! THOWP! I woke wide-eyed, sat up in bed. Alone, of course. I looked at the clock. 6 AM …A DREAM!
‘WHO WAS THAT???’
Never had a kiss so charged me.
Suzanne was the first girl I kissed. She was skinny, wore her hair in pigtails, and I think she was blind in one eye. I liked her. We were on the ground looking at the clouds, as kids will do. I leaned over and grabbed her shoulder.
‘I am going to kiss you!’
I said it again as if a threat.
‘ I am going to kiss you!’
‘Go ahead,’ she said, and giggled.
I pecked her lips, fast as a snake striking. I pulled back, stood up and ran. I was six years old.
The next kiss was five years later. Lil was 13. We were at a night picnic, on a Connecticut pond, sitting on a bench, very close, touching each other. We were looking at a glowworm I held in my hand. Suddenly we looked at each other and kissed—a very chaste, tender, kiss. Sex was not on my mind and I don’t think on hers. Frankly, I didn’t know a helluva lot about sex. It was a kiss of the moment turned magical by the moon mirrored on the pond’s surface. Lil and I weren’t that close and I never kissed her again. Then my family moved away.
Post puberty kisses were, ahh…moister. Sometimes I licked my lips and my tongue probed. Lust and hormones took charge, and finally I was deep inside a woman on a couple of fronts. All sex, and that was the way it was for a while. If I were Philip Roth, I wouldn’t be writing about kisses.
So who, I wondered was this woman of my dream? My ex wife, she had a thin kiss. I can recall a few that were sloppy. Some kissed too hard and sucked. So did I. Then there were the greeting kisses, more like a chicken pecking up corn kernels. And pretend kisses, with women I didn’t want to particularly kiss, or even touch. And then there were those out-of- control passionate explorations.
There was one woman whose first kiss was like my dream but her kiss was reserved; she was hiding something.
Most of my dreams take place when I was younger and lived in New York City. Perhaps I passed the woman of the dream kiss on the street and we had eye contact, perhaps it was the airline stewardess on that trans-Atlantic flight, and I didn’t have the courage to ask her out, but I could feel this electricity between us.
I just don’t know. I lay back in bed, that early morning, shortly after 6 AM, and thought about the dream. Sex was not the force—it was the sharing of a different emotion that was detached from our senses, although that is where it began.
This woman of the dream kiss. She lives within my imagination. That kiss is a yearning for some sort of enrichment that swims under our physical and emotional planes.
And you…have you experienced such a kiss?