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Kissing Week, Part II

April 18, 2010

It’s been a red-letter week for hugging and kissing, both by babies, and by strange men. I blogged about the being kissed by babies here. On to the scandalous strange men aspect of the story.

By Strange Men

This is not the man who kissed me.

I had a *bad* day the other day. In brief:

* Henry’s babysitter is going to work with another family 3 days a week. She should, because I’m not giving her enough hours, but it still means I need to find appropriate childcare for a whole day. Ugh.

* I had a meeting in midtown which got canceled, piggybacked with

* A dr.’s appointment that was not of the calendar of the dr. in question, who

* Informed me while I was there, though I didn’t get any services, that they don’t take my new insurance.

In light of these things, my head was spinning. I understood little except for the fact that, having been thwarted in so many ways, I needed to turn immediately in the direction of the gym.

I walked out onto 43rd Street, towards the subway that would take me briskly gymwards, when a man in a suit with a huge grin stopped in front of me, his arms held open in a highly welcoming gesture.

“It’s so good to see you!” he proclaimed, stepping towards me, closing his arms, giving me a big hug. Then, in the style of someone from another country, which was pretty much his whole style, he grabbed my face and kissed me on both cheeks.

In New York, people are always kissing each other hello. Women often air kiss, men often are a bit more genuine in their kisses.

And I admit that I frequently have a problem placing people. I admit this. So I wasn’t completely surprised. And he was so adamant about how good it was to see me that I was stalling while trying to find the most polite way to get across my message, which was “Wait, who the heck are you?”

I came up with:

“I’m so sorry . . . I can’t quite place you at the moment?” This should not have been phrased as a question, because by the time I got to the end of the sentence, I had realized that there was basically no question in my mind. I had not met this person before.

“I met you with Stacy!” he proclaimed. “Absolutely, the other day. Wonderful, just wonderful to see you.”

I took him in again. Shortish, dark suit, Indian appearing, late 30s or early 40s. Flipped through a mental Rolodex. Nope, rang no bells. Neither did Stacy.

“Stacy?” I asked. Tentatively.

“Yes, Stacy from Wall Street!” Ok, now I knew we were going in the opposite direction.

Where do I start, I wondered.

“It’s just that, I’m a mom at the moment? So I rarely leave Brooklyn. I’m actually quite sure we didn’t meet. But, you know, it’s very nice to meet you now.” I can’t say why I was afraid of hurting his feelings.

“Yes, you see! Stacy is also from Brooklyn!”

Right. Me, and Stacy, along with the other 299,999,998 of us, are from Brooklyn.

He finally gave up. And he said “Well we know each other now. So wonderful.”

Which was my line, except he took it a step further. He moved forward and hugged me again. This surprised me. And then he kissed me on either cheek, except . . . no. That’s actually not what he did. He kissed me on my left cheek, and then, without stepping back and coming back in, he went straight for my mouth. It was the right side of my mouth, somewhat near my cheek — but, no. It was on my lips. Absolutely.

I was flabbergasted, but do not have a behavioral template for how to react when a tremendously cheerful and otherwise seemingly well-mannered man starts to try to lay the mack down with me on the street. I was already feeling flummoxed when he found me. And I’m always too tired lately to think in a wholly crystal clear manner. What to do?

He grabbed my hands, flicked his eyebrows up and down twice, and said, “We really need to spend some time together!”

I stared at him. I wiggled my hands. I wasn’t afraid, I just wanted to be out of there without any other hugs or kisses . . . or even necessary conversations.

It’s like when I shop at DSW and someone suddenly starts following me and asking would I like to be part of a DSW club. No, I wouldn’t, I shop here in order to be ignored. Don’t your marketing people know anything?

And it seems that on 43rd Street, the Code of Ignoration should be even stronger. I wasn’t even doing anything provocative, like going on vacation in Continental Europe, for crying out loud. Why did this person still have my hands? He still had my hands.

Still, I felt a pressure to be nice to him — and that is what marks me as prey, though my theory on that is more complicated. I do believe that in balance, life is enhanced by being a trusting and kind person. However, I think that if someone murders me, it’s not unlikely that I’ll be apologizing to them as I breathe my last. Just in case the whole thing was just a big misunderstanding on my part, you know.

I considered telling The Kisser that I have a husband. But to what end? It’s not like I would go and “spend some time” with him, at the Westin or elsewhere, if I didn’t have a husband. That wasn’t exactly the issue.

So I settled for “I have to go home now.”

And he grabbed my hands tighter for one moment and inquired, with great fervor, “How old is your baby!?”

And I said, with great fervor,

“He’s a year!?”

And I tore away and we both scuttled off, me going westwards down 43rd Street, in the general direction of the Westin, and he towards Grand Central, back to wherever it was he called home.

My Question Is:

My question is: what was his experience of the interaction? Did he really think he knew me? Or do I just look like a person who would try to avoid hurting your feelings for a while, at least until the fourth kiss?

It was good to get back home to Brooklyn. To the one year old. To my husband.

To Stacy?

This is the second and last part of an extraordinarily small series. You can find Part I here.

Thanks to Photomish Dan on Flickr for use of the self-portrait.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. April permalink
    April 18, 2010 12:09 pm

    Omg. I am laughing so hard that I have to leave a comment long enough to give me time to catch my breath so I can go back and read it again. This comment? Not long enough !

  2. Meg permalink
    April 19, 2010 1:27 pm

    I love this story. I think you need to start looking into whether or not he has a blog about kissing strange women.

  3. Michelle permalink
    April 19, 2010 1:36 pm

    I love your blog, Meredith. LOVE IT. But it reminds me often of why I think I am not suited for an urban existence. So much intense interaction! See above.

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