A kiss can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Marilyn Monroe sang about a kiss on the hand being quite continental. Julia Roberts’ hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold in Pretty Woman refused to even kiss her Johns on the lips. In Chekhov’s short story “The Kiss,” it led the protagonist to question its significance and its meaninglessness. For me, it happened almost like it did in Chekhov’s story (except I wasn’t kissed by a woman.) Unlike the protagonist, Ryabovitch, I had a clear view of the guy that pressed his lips against my own. And then I never saw him again.
The last day of the century held a lot of uncertainty, you know… Y2K, the end of the world… But the most pressing matter for me was where my friends and I would ring in the New Year. We were broke and the only wheels belonged to my best friend’s little brother who was restoring a 1952 Chevy Bel Air. It was a real fixer-upper complete with a rusty body and no upholstery. Still, we climbed in, threw a blanket over the bare springs that once contained leather seats and we were on our way to the local gay bar.
I had thrown my last boyfriend out of the house a year before and I was starting to believe that I would never meet anyone again. We arrived, got our drinks, and mingled with the crowd. As midnight approached, I realized I didn’t have anyone to kiss at the strike of midnight. The list was pretty short to non-existent and kissing my best friend and his brother (who aren’t even gay) was not an option, thankfully.
We were on the stage looking down at the rest of the party-goers. The DJ started the countdown and as he reached the end, I saw someone coming right at me. It happened so fast. I felt his arm around my waist and he pivoted me so that I was turned to face him. I recognized him as the guy I saw earlier that evening. I hadn’t thought much of him earlier-just a handsome, friendly guy with a friendly smile across the dance floor. He was dressed in a sailor uniform. But now, I was in his arms. The hand that was wrapped around me tightened its grip and he moved in for a tight kiss right at midnight.
I was reeling from the unexpected kiss. Had he planned this all night? But before I could finish that thought, his angry boyfriend dragged him out of the club.
That kiss, as brief as it was, stayed with me for a few days after the new year. I questioned it: was he someone who fell in love with me on first sight? Was I so irresistible that men lost all inhibition? In reality, I didn’t believe any of that. It was just a random kiss on a night where it is expected. It definitely wasn’t love, but it was a kiss that gave me hope. I wouldn’t be single forever. For that night, I could believe that the new century would bring me lots of love and success.
It reminded me of a quote from Steve Martin in L.A. Story: “A kiss may not be the truth, but it is what we wish were true.”