From the Back Nine: The kiss

After months of politics and COVID, I decided to tackle another equally important subject. I know! Kissing!

You have your Louis Armstrong “kiss to build a dream on” and your Casablanca “kiss is just a kiss,” and what the heck is the difference? Here’s my take on it.

I went to high school and college in the 1960s. It was a rocking time of revolution in many major areas. Like kissing. For the first time, guys weren’t the only ones allowed to “play the field.” Nice girls did, too. A kiss was not saved for a one and only … you smooched several before winnowing down to the serious contenders.

Yes, folks, I admit: I kissed around.

The mechanics of kissing haven’t changed, even if the meaning has. Your first kiss was unlikely to have been a kiss to build a dream on. That kind of kiss takes the right time, the right place, the right (or maybe wrong) person. Nope. Your first kiss was probably on your doorstep, just before your mom screamed, “What’s going on out there?” It was tentative and awkward. You were far more worried about clashing glasses or deadly breath than about whether the kiss was enjoyable or not.

Improving one’s kissing technique was the first night move you practiced. Either I was a slow study, or it took the boy involved a longish while to manage a smacker that blew the headband right out of my hair. If the ’60s did anything, it taught us that kissing was an act unto itself, not necessarily a prelude to other body parts involved in serious wildfire. Being a master of one had little to do with the other.

Cut to many decades later. I was in a conversation yesterday with three young adults (virtually all adults are younger than me). Kissing came up. All three respondents in this exhaustive research study agreed that kissing is fairly selective once more.

Has kissing become a serious commitment again? On a health level, this makes sense; my generation practiced mouth-to-mouth in the years before things like AIDS terrified us … or before masks became yet another article of clothing to contend with. Smoochers may have wised up along the way, no longer viewing kisses as something you hand out at fairs for a buck a pucker.

I don’t know. Maybe you believe kissing is an act of intimacy filled with breathy promise and commitment. You know, a kiss to build a dream on. Or maybe you are an explorer. You know, a kiss is just a kiss.

All I know for sure is that the rules of kissing may change, but fast or slow, commitment or no, thank heaven we continue to play the game.

Linda B. Myers is a founding member of Olympic Peninsula Authors. Her newest historical novel, “Dr. Emma’s Improbable Happenings,” is available at Port Book and News, One of a Kind Gallery, and on Contact her at