Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kissing A Stranger; Strangers Kissing; Famous Kisses

We never were
We'll never be
Strangers kissing in the pouring rain
Chasing after your leaving train
 -from Our Song by Spill Canvas

Have you ever been kissed by a stranger or kissed a stranger? Someone you have never met and probably will never even see again?  Yes. I have been. I was the kissee. Three times kissed on my lips-and all took place when I was well past that certain age when I had stopped celebrating my birthdays 'cause there were a whole lot more than 40 candles on the cakes.

All three kissing events were different. One was when I was sitting parked in my car at a Walgreen's, once at a sophisticated, local German restaurant when I was with another man, and the most recent happened at a local outdoor Oktoberfest with my grandkids. I still do not know why I got kissed. All kisses were fast and quite spontaneous. I later did inquire at the restaurant about the well dressed gentleman in his mid 70s who had planted his beer-y lips on mine and discovered from the waiters that this customer had kissed other ladies before, usually when his steins had been too numerous. When I found this out I felt less special and a little jealous!

The famous kiss shown above is a long, passionate one. And they are strangers. Only one of my kiss adventures was similar to this one, darn it. U.S. Navy photo journalist Victor Jorgensen photographed the returning sailor and the nurse in Times Square on V.J. Day August 14, 1945. It is titled 'Kissing the War Goodbye'' and is almost exactly like 'V-J Day in Times Square', a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt also taken on the same day and time. 

From Eisenstaedt on Eisenstaedt:
  "In Times Square on V.J. Day I saw a sailor running along the street grabbing any and every girl in sight. Whether she was a grandmother, stout, thin, old, didn't make a difference. I was running ahead of him with my Leica looking back over my shoulder but none of the pictures that were possible pleased me. Then suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse". 

Years later a few people identified themselves as the strangers in the photo. A nurse Edith Shain wrote to Eisenstaedt in the late 1970s claiming to be the woman in the picture. She related that at the time she thought she might as well let the young sailor kiss her since he fought for her in the war. A Mrs. Friedman also claims to be the lucky nurse caught up in the moment. George Mendonça of Newport, Rhode Island, was identified by a team of volunteers from the Naval War College in August 2005 as "the kisser". George by the way was on a date with another girl when he went on his joyous kissing spree.

Linked forever together in the photographs by both Eisenstaedt and Jorgensen, these two kissing strangers never knew each other or saw each other again. That's art, but then "...a kiss is just a kiss."

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