A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster
My friend, John Bleasby, is a curious chap. By that I don’t mean John is ‘curious,’ although he is, I mean he is curious about all kinds of things, none of which would be the least bit interesting to a normal person, but to John there is a world of mysteries out there – like kissing booths.
“What?” I hear you say, “Kissing booths?”
Yes, it appears John and his beloved, Louise, were coming home from the Farmers’ Market when it occurred to him that we never see kissing booths anymore. Why this thought should strike him is beyond me, and probably Louise too. I would imagine she got out of the car immediately, called a cab, or walked home. It isn’t wise to stay in a car with someone with such loony thoughts on a Saturday morning.
John, being a technical type of person, was fascinated by the problems that could arise in today’s world filled with so many complexities that would never have been dreamed of when kissing booths were popular. For instance, how long should a kiss last? There is a big difference between a quick peck on the cheek and one that lasts an hour and the recipient’s eyes roll back in his head. Another concern he had was should the police be on hand in case one or the other got carried away and hung in there for an inappropriate period of time? And what is an appropriate length of time before a young male customer becomes aroused and begins to take liberties so to speak, two seconds, ten seconds, or a full minute? And then there is the inevitable problem of the cost and whether all credit cards would be acceptable, and what about Tim Horton Reward cards?
There is also the COVID 19 problem to consider and whether one or the other has had one or both shots. Would it be necessary to go into self-isolation for two weeks after? Probably, in fact I remember a couple of girls that would require at least a month in ICU if you just passed them on the street.
After I got over the shock of his latest musings, I poured myself a wee dram of Writer’s Tears Irish whiskey and began to muse myself. (I said muse, not amuse)
I suddenly realised that I, as a man of the world and of considerable years, had never availed myself of a kissing booth. As a matter of fact, I am not sure if I ever actually saw one, in the movies perhaps, but not at a village fair or a Baptist Church picnic. I once saw a young couple kissing in the beer tent at the Scottish Festival while her husband was up buying beer. That ended badly as I recall; the young chap’s bagpipes had to be removed by a surgeon.
I don’t recall seeing a kissing booth at the Orillia Fall Fair, although I remember a couple being married in the goat barn. I wrote about it in the Packet a few years later wondering if they had any kids. (Did you get that? Kids! You don’t get that kind of sophisticated word play anywhere but here.)
As I mentioned, one of John’s concerns was pricing. He thought the cost to kiss a young miss might have been a dollar, it could have been, but when are we talking about, a dollar in 1960 or 1970 was a lot different than a dollar is today. What lady would risk her lips in 2021 for a lousy buck? Another thing, who pays for the half-gallon jug of Scope, and the giant tube of Lypsol, and by the looks of the seedier types we see around lately, the tetanus shots after.
Let us assume the price is a dollar for starters, plus a sliding scale to cover some of the more intricate moves (i.e., a full-blown tonsil-tickling vacuum smooch that would curl your toes and blow the soles right off your army boots). It only seems fair such a heart-stopping kiss and the necessary effort she needed to put into it could raise the price somewhat and the extra charge may or may not include the cost of a motel room.
But let us also assume the price has always been a dollar. Since the kissing booths have been around for a long time and a dollar was quite substantial sum in the 1890s what could you get back then for a buck? I remember reading somewhere that in 1892 Queen Victoria wearing a Bikini would hide in a giant cake and jump out just as Happy Birthday to You was beginning. Rumour has it that most people at the time would gladly pay twenty bucks if she stayed inside and never came out at all.