The Awakening - Part I

Serpent Tongue

Chapter 9 reprinted from Love, Loss, and Awakening

Do you remember your first kiss? Were you twelve, fourteen?

Younger? Older? The age doesn’t matter, but the anticipation

in tingling lip sensation does. I was in ninth grade, and I don’t even

remember her name. I was shy and totally out of my element. Having

just graduated from neighborhood youth games to a first date was

monumental for a street hound of the 1960s. At my current age, all

I remember of that first kiss is that it was in a movie theater and

was luscious. She had on teenage cherry lip-gloss that made the

taste hang on my lips. It was like slowly licking a cherry lollipop.

We never went on the second date, I don’t remember why, but to

this day I remember that delicious cherry taste.

In thirty-two years I kissed only one woman, other than Hope, on

the lips. It was a short goodbye kiss with no pretense of romance. It

was a temptation of another life maybe, knowing that the time in

this life wasn’t right. It was about twelve years before Hope passed,

when our marriage was faltering, but somehow I knew we would

make it right, so the kiss was more a goodbye than an opening.

For thirty-two years my mouth knew only one pair of lips, Hope’s,

sometimes with just a peck and sometimes a long, lovemaking

kiss. Either way, every single morning and evening for thirty-two

years, on awakening, coming home from work, and going to bed at

night, I was either greeted or put to sleep with the same tried-andtrue

lips. Oh, boy, they were so comforting and familiar. I took the

simple acts of daily pleasure for granted. The universe says they’re

gone forever.

Was it the familiarity or just knowing they were always there

and mine alone that made me think those lips would remain mine

forever? I don’t think Hope ever kissed anyone else either, and that

she was true to me. During our turbulent years, I always thought

she might have had a fling, but all the housecleaning of history

after her death never revealed any indication of any unfaithfulness.

I think, like me, Hope had visions and fantasies, but was too

afraid to risk losing our family and the hard work of cooperation

we’d built over decades. As I write this, I feel comfortable that had

I died first, her first new kiss in thirty-two years would have been

just like mine—a romantic comedy.

I didn’t practice my kissing for the first new lips to touch. Who

would have thought to practice? After all, doesn’t thirty-two years

make you an expert? Doesn’t experience count? Wow, what an

innocent fool!

Fortyish and attractive, she had medium-length, straight blond

hair and was just a tad overweight, as are most of us who try hard

to look good but still love to eat. I would say she was soft like a

teddy bear. I don’t remember the peripherals, but the kiss itself is a

highlight of memory, as is my first kiss in ninth grade. I’ll spare you

the details of the prelude to embrace. It was actually quite boring,

but I’ll jolly you with the actual kiss. I had no preparation for the

coming mind-flummox.

My companion was a divorcee of many years and a knowledgeable

kisser, or so I thought. We started to kiss normally and

passionately, and then she suddenly rammed her tongue into my

mouth. It wasn’t French-kissing tenderness, but more like a serpent

on the hunt, its spear-like tongue searching for its prey and, having

found it, going in for the kill. My mind went awash, frantically

The Awakening, Part One — Serpent Tongue 43

trying to figure out what the heck was going on as I struggled at a

supposedly enjoyable activity I had performed with no problems

for thirty-two years. Her tongue was searching deep in my mouth

for a response, I mean full-tongue deep! I pulled away and like an

embarrassed novice asked, “Sorry, what are you doing?”

Now I’ve learned some lessons from dating a plethora of women:

Some are sensitive and some insensitive. They don’t necessarily

mean their quick answers; it’s just them. Her answer, actually how

she shared it, made me feel like an incompetent bonehead. It was

similar to the first time in class you eagerly, with impatience, raise

your hand to answer a teacher’s question and the insensitive, hardass

teacher dismisses the answer with condescending indifference,

demonstrating to the class what a fool you are. You learn quickly

never to volunteer unless chosen. It is the same with dating and

the mistakes of dating.

Back to the kiss: my date’s response was not reassuring.

“What, you never kissed like this? This is how it is done where

I grew up.” She repeated it again to inflict her point. “You never

kissed like this? I have done this always.”

Well, maybe I was oversensitive and took her response as a jab at

my manly prowess. Or maybe she was just condescending. It really

didn’t matter. What mattered was I just realized I wasn’t prepared

for this new single dating life. I was a novice, a fourteen-year-old

at fifty-four stumbling at the dating scene all over again. It wasn’t

pretty the first time, and now, with remembered battle scars still

secreted in the folds of my brain, it wasn’t pretty again.

After the few seconds of realization, I became the student for

whom many women love to take the position of teacher. My date

explained to me that one person sticks a tongue deep in the other’s

mouth while the receiving person sucks on the tongue as it is slowly

pulled out. Then the process is repeated and shared. The routine, or

should I say kissing fun, goes from normal kissing to serpent-devil

tongue kissing by both partners, and back to normal kissing. This

process is repeated until boredom sets in or you jump into the sack

for more mistakes—for this wasn’t my only mistake that evening,

but the only one I dare share if I’m to salvage any self-respect.

You see, the mistakes for a widower don’t begin or end with the

kiss. A man must perform. I’ll save those tears of laughter and

self-deprecation for another chapter. Back again to the kiss: I’m an

engineer, and my nature is to execute all tasks and responsibilities

correctly. I remembered reading Men’s Health magazine in a doctor’s

office. (If you don’t know, it’s the Cosmo for men.) After that

first kiss, I decided I was going to learn to become the Don Juan of

kissing. I wanted to be a man who knew how to kiss passionately

and make love with sensuous caring while savoring each new

romantic interlude as I explored a new heavenly body. For thirty-two

years, complacency had made me comfortable, but I discovered

each woman had a different notion of kissing and intimacy. Each

one was a whole new learning experience. I learned, as a man who

wanted to bring pleasure, that the woman was always right, and I,

the man, was always wrong. It didn’t matter if they had a serpent

for a tongue or no tongue at all. I wanted to please them, and it was

up to me to find their reality. In fact, I kissed a plethora of women,

and no other woman knew of serpent tongue, as I called it. I tried

the serpent-tongue technique on a few other women, and each

withdrew in bewildered disgust.

I had learned the lesson: Each woman is unique. I wanted to be

prepared for every experience and therefore studied Men’s Health

and other publications to please the women who welcomed and

trusted me. Occasionally, I made really stupid and inconsiderate

mistakes, for which I sincerely apologize to every one of those

women I fumbled on. I was a good man and husband for thirty-one

years, but I was making hurtful intimacy mistakes like a teenager. I

was and am truly sorry for the feelings I hurt, but with each failure

there were also successes that made the whole experience well

worth it. With each success I felt closer to what was intended for

my next journey.

There is a happy ending to this chapter. One woman didn’t really

appreciate me much on our first date, but when I kissed her goodbye

as she waited to go into the taxi, some spark flew in her brain and

she needed to know more. She tells me that my kiss was why she

came back for a second date. I had practiced and learned through

trial and error for the time it counted the most.