I don’t remember if I heard it first-hand, or if it was passed down to me by others, but my Grandfather was credited with saying “kissing a woman you aren’t going to marry is like licking the butter off of someone else’s bread.” I don’t generally lick butter off of my own bread, not to mention off of other’s bread, so this image seemed a bit odd to me. However, I’m pretty sure what he really meant was that you should reserve that act for when a relationship is pretty serious. It seems odd to me that this came from my grandfather who was also reported to have kissed his future wife on the first date and was so impressed with the result that he had to come back for more. In that case, that first-date kiss ultimately resulted in nine kids and over 100 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
As a general rule, I disregarded this advice when I was young. It rarely took long for me to finagle a goodnight kiss or two — sometimes following my grandpa’s example and accomplishing the feat on the first date. However, somewhere along the line I stepped back, took stock, and decided I didn’t like where that trend was taking me. I had experienced a series of bad breakups and relationships that had pushed to a place I wasn’t happy to go. As a result, I basically swore off of dating and women with the intention of graduating college before allowing another girlfriend to get overly serious. That intention didn’t last, though. A few months after this I put this resolution into force, I met a striking young woman who captured my attention with a fierceness for which I was completely unprepared. Swearing off of women all together was simply not an option with someone like her tantalizingly close.
This new development left me completely unable to stick to my initial resolution. I was not about to pass up the opportunity represented by this amazing young lady, so the resolution to stay single had to go. However, I was still motivated not to fall into the same trap I’d been in all too many times. Since my original resolution wasn’t viable, I adjusted it to resolve to make this round different and be more careful about how I managed the relationship. After the prior disasters I wanted to take things slower and better manage expectations on both sides. Among other changes, there would be no first-date kisses. After a few dates I was even more convinced than before that I wanted this relationship to progress differently.
Unlike many other plans of mine, this one seemed to work. As time evolved, so did the relationship, and what started out as a fun date to keep the weekends from being boring quickly evolved to long evenings together as often as possible. Frequently those evenings would close out with a long close stare into each others eyes, with me at least wanting badly to lean in and kiss those beautiful lips. But I stuck to my guns, though, and would only squeeze her hand (or something along those lines) and walk to my car without giving in to those inclinations. Sometimes our faces would be just inches apart for a very pregnant pause, but that’s where it stopped. I didn’t want to ruin a good thing by moving too fast.
One evening Liz and I were talking in my driveway before she left to go home and I lost my will to resist. She was amazingly beautiful in the moonlight and frankly irresistible, but rather than lean in and steal a kiss I did something I had never done before… I asked. She said yes, and I didn’t wait to give her any time to reconsider. It was an amazing first kiss. One that I’ll never forget. However, my favorite part of this story happened later.
A few dates later Liz and I were talking and she smiled and almost started laughing. She had something she wanted to tell me about that first kiss. You see, there was a set of railroad tracks that crossed the road that connected her house with mine, and as a kid folks in my area used to have a tradition that if you touched a screw and made a wish while crossing the railroad tracks, your wish would come true. Liz, wondering why I was taking so long to kiss her, touched a screw and wished for a good night kiss. I suppose it worked, and I’m glad it did. That kiss was the first of many, and set the course that would eventually lead to a very tender one across the altar. To this day, I think about that story every time I cross a set of railroad tracks.