The idea for this column came from the picture on the cover of a magazine. The famous photo was of a sailor kissing a nurse to celebrate the end of World War II.
Kissing must go back a very long time. No one knows just how it started, but one theory is it might have been a means of identification.
The Bible records how Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Symbolic kissing is part of religious rituals. Kissing the Bible, the altar, the bishop's ring, the feet, as a gesture of humility have all been known from ancient times.
The kiss of peace among church members has evolved into the handshake of peace. Popes often kiss the ground upon arriving in a never before visited country. People who have survived some kind of ordeal often kiss the ground upon their return to their own country or their own home. Kissing a crucifix, especially during Holy Week, is just one part of the observances of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
A long ago custom I have not seen lately, is when a man kisses the hand of a lady. It comes across as a very romantic gesture, which makes the man look like a real-life gentleman. I recently saw an old photo of a political dignitary kissing the hand of Nancy Reagan.
Many of the early movies were romantic love stories and they all ended when the leading man kissed the leading lady. Some movies included an element of suspense, when the viewer was left to speculate which of two or more beauties would get that kiss. It was great news when a movie showed the first ever on-screen kiss, in times when movies were new and everything shown on screen was newsworthy.
There must be many songs about kissing, but I can remember only a few. Tiny Tim sang one that went something like this: "And if I kiss you, in the garden, in the moonlight, will you pardon me and tiptoe through the tulips with me?"
I like the one where a girl is calling out to her mother about her boyfriend, using these words: "Ma! He's awful nice to me. Ma! He's making eyes at me." And she ends up saying frantically, "Ma! He's kissing me!"
A rather sad song is about the guy who sings, "I wonder who's kissing her now?" And a somewhat clever one has the guy pleading, "gimme a little kiss, will ya huh, and I'll give it right back to you!"
It surprises me that I can not think of any more songs about kissing.
Kissing has to be fun. If it were not, it would not have survived over many centuries. I recall a time when people, especially men, wore badges saying "Kiss me, I'm Irish," or "Kiss me again, I'm still conscious."
Do mothers still "kiss a boo-boo" when their precious little one scrapes a knee or skins an elbow? Do politicians still go around kissing babies, telling mothers how beautiful the babies are and how they resemble their beautiful mothers? Remember, every vote counts.
Candy kisses came in two flavors: chocolate, wrapped in silver foil, and taffy, wrapped in yellow waxed paper. Can you recall what the brand names were?
I remember when a man was quoted as saying he wished for the good old days when you could kiss a girl and taste nothing but the girl. That was in response to women wearing lots of makeup, including powder and lipstick. It was said that after a couple had an argument, they would kiss and make up, meaning she got the kiss and he got the makeup.
My parents told me about the innocent young girl who was looking for relief for her chapped lips. She was told to go to a particular drug store and ask the handsome druggist for some "Tulip Salve." That, of course, was interpreted by the lucky guy as "two lip salve." The situation could become embarassing if the druggist went on to explain the practical joke to the unsuspecting girl.
Another guy came up behind a girl, put his hands over her eyes and asked her to guess who he was. He allowed her only three guesses and if she didn't identify him, she would have to forfeit a kiss. Without a moment's hesitation, she said Jack Frost, Father Time and Santa Claus. She just wasn't taking any chances.
I never had the opportunity to play the game of Post Office. A long time ago, a girl on our street had a sweet 16th birthday party. Her teenaged friends and neighbors were invited. Among other activities was the game of Post Office. After that day, the party girl was known by all the kids as Juicy Lucy. By the way, do any of my readers know about the game of Pony Express? It's a lot like Post Office except there is a lot more horsin' around!
One of the old-time radio comics said he doesn't kiss his girl under the mistletoe. He kisses her under the nose. I've kissed a few brides. Never kissed the Blarney stone or a frog or bought a kiss at a kissing booth. I'll close this column by blowing a kiss to all my readers!
Editor's note: Straka can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.