When the suitcases come down from the attic, when the bike comes out of the garage, when one of us goes searching for car keys or a water bottle, we meet for an exchange of lips. Just in case the plane goes down, the kid texting on his cell doesn’t see the cyclist, the car goes off the road. Just in case I don’t come back, or Michael doesn’t come back, or the world blows up and there’s no place to come back to. It’s a joke and that we seal with a kiss. (You MUST remember this!) Not a kiss that expects to be followed by another, it doesn’t even require eye contact, sometimes exchanged mid-sentence. A kiss totally without expectations — except that unlike in Casablanca, the other will in fact return.
Today was a two kiss day. One before Michael went off on a run into the soggy sweatbox of late morning. It was a day worthy of building a bridge over the river Kwai. Lawrence of Arabia wouldn’t have gone for a run on a day like today if they had Lake Erie humidity in the desert. A day that was giving me palpitations. These are the palpitations I am prone to in heavy heat + pollution, accompanied by shortness of breath, which means I should use my inhaler. Unfortunately I always forget that the inhaler is what I need until I have half convinced myself that I’ve developed a heart condition between the bedroom and the kitchen.
“If you drop dead in the heat, don’t call me because I will kill you for even attempting this,” I rasped.
“Are these the suitcases that go in the car?”
“Yep.” And I was off for the airport. Kiss number two. I bumped to a landing in jaw clacking jumps through powerful clouds over Kansas City, MO. Heavy shouldered clouds that looked perfectly capable of transporting me to Oz in a flying house. But instead, I was safely transported to the Marriott in a black cab.
Millions of these kisses are exchanged between loved ones everyday. Thoughtlessly. Almost a reflex. Do we do it because (morbidly) it might be our very last chance? If so, we ought to make it more of a Hollywood moment. Or is it more of a superstition, that this little lip buzz will keep a body safe?