Chapter 35

Don’t let anybody tell you that poems and songs don’t have the power to hurt a body.  Any doubts in the matter, just go ask that snotty little Matty Ranglin about it.  What got him socked up so bad he missed a week of school was just singing a stupid little poem.  Dedicated to my eleven year-old self and Russell Pugh, who was the cutest, coolest eighth grader in the consolidated district, possibly of all time.  And what’s really subtextual and all, is that you know the poem.  It went,  “Cammy and Russell, sitting in a tree, K…I…S…S…I…N…G.”

The second verse is even more controversial, and really what led to some bruised knuckles for me including a cut from a tooth, and the resulting trauma that led to Matty getting a little vacation from academic work.  You know it, too.  “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Cammy with a baby carriage.”

Babies, for Lord’s sake.  Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.  Definitely a call to arms.

But actually, kissing a boy was a gross enough idea at the time.  In fact, later that same year the Dillon brothers grabbed me and Willa Macon behind her garage and started kissing on us.  Kind of HeadStart pre-training from future rapists.  Also turned out badly.  It’s actually not that easy to get your tongue bitten halfway off.  You have to be a major asshole in training to qualify and enable it.  Plus Willa kneed the young brother, whichever one of those little sidewinders he was, right in his groin contents, causing him to scream like rabbit in a trap.  Sometimes I think my early experiences led me to associate love as some sort of full contact martial art.

But what’s really funny, now I look back on it, is that by the time I was thirteen I was playing kissing games at parties.  Spin-bottle, go off in the closet and do what the spinner said, kind of things.  Very frequently down in the Tadlock’s creepy stone basement since they  had more kids than the woman in the shoe and there was always a birthday party over there.  Somehow kissing boys had become this fun, daring thing to do.  I still mostly thought of boys as either rivals or criminal cohorts, but for some reason the idea of pushing our lips together was suddenly workable.  Even mildly desirable.  Definitely better than being called a chicken.

But I ended up telling my sister Selah about the kissing games, thinking she’d see it as cute, and kind of proud of getting that much closer in on the whole Nancy Drew Mystery Of The Boy And Girl Thing.  She listened to me with her usual sweet, insipid smile and her big old brown eyes not moving.  Then she leaned over and put her lips right on mine, which she’d never done before.  Gave me a very sweet kiss. Then she looked me right in the eye until she had my attention, but good, and said, “Cammy, don’t ever start kissing on anybody unless you really mean it.”

Trouble is, finding out what it means.

One thing it means has been shrined in a major motion picture.  That one where Julia Roberts, no less, is whoring her ass on a corner of Wilshire, instead of a prime cut website for $3600 a crack.  Her little ho buddy is horrified, says,  “You kissed him??  On the MOUTH?”

So there’s the whore lore.  Take a girl who’ll do any sort of nasty shit for money, but the one thing she won’t do:  something teenybopper girls do with gherkin guys they don’t even like.  It’s kind of a quandary and a lot of men don’t understand it.  You get them asking, You don’t mind having my dick spurting bodily fluids in your mouth, but you won’t let lips touch it?   I know of girls who will let a guy piss on their face or shit on their chest, but not kiss them on the mouth.  And, frankly, it doesn’t make that much sense.

Except it does.  It’s personal.  You know in the Godfather, Abe Vigoda says that trying to kill the Corleones wasn’t personal, just business.  And everybody understood that.  There’s a difference, and it’s an important one to both the business and the personal side of the line.

Kissing is something really, really basic to us.  We do it from birth, pushing our lips up on a tit for food, and for something to major that “love” isn’t even a big enough word to cover it.  We kiss people and things out of instinct as children.  It’s around before even the hint of sex.  InJapanI was surprised to learn that it’s not all hard-wired like sneezing or laughing or something: they have all these weird taboos against it and it can be considered super-nasty and not a nice intimate thing.  At least they don’t rub noses like Eskimos.  But by and large, I’d say, kissing is a really core event.

I read this thing once, a writer saying that the trouble with actors and salespeople and politicians is that they use their faces to work people, as professional tools; but then  you have to use that same face for your own use and it might get confusing.

So I think that’s what the issues are. And the stakes.  Even if you’re a public utility, you have to have a self in there or it’s not worthwhile.

After saying all that, I’ll tell you that I kiss clients.  Right on the kisser.  Maybe that’s a little different, though.  And less uncommon at the level of things I work.  These are generally men I have known a long time, and not for just a few hours in the sack here and there.  Maybe actually kind of living with them for a weekend or even a week or so. Full time, Girl Friend Experience.  I’m in a fortunate position of not having to take up with anybody I don’t want to, so they are men I like.  Sometimes I just spontaneously feel like giving them a smack.  Or maybe sometimes I can tell they really need somebody to kiss them.  Lots of people do;   you see that all the time.  But they don’t have anybody to kiss them.  But my guys do, and it endears me to them. And, quite a bit, endears them to me.  Any business you do, you have personal likes for some of the people you do business with.

So yeah, I don’t mind a kiss on the lips.

And near as I can tell, I really mean it.