tremble clef

Friday, October 06, 2006

Bliss, "Kissing (New Version)" (2003)

The most surprising kiss I've ever been part of took place on a bridge. The locale -- Longfellow Bridge, to be specific, which links Boston to Cambridge -- was, I suppose, part of the surprise. It was late; one, even two in the morning. At that time, I was traveling precisely in that direction, coming from some depressing bar in North Station, past Buzzy's Fabulous Roast Beef, and going home. I was on my bicycle; in those days, that was, perhaps foolishly, the way I chose to get home at closing time (the better to tell people that, without a dainty basket on the front of the bike, there was no way for me to offer them a ride?). But, foolish or not, I loved being on my bicycle at those late hours, in the cool night air. It made everything feel like it would be alright.

Despite the late hour, I wasn't the only cyclist crossing that bridge. And like me, the other man was doing so in the same manner: haltingly, with starts and stops. I pedaled past him, who was pensively gazing into the river, at the quarter mark; I myself then stopped, a little further on, to do the same. The lights were reflecting off the water. Like in some odd relay race, he got back on his bike, and thus passed me in return. As he did, he said, with a bit of a brogue, "I hope you're not thinking of jumping."

You know how such dances end. We talked for a while, our bicycles similarly idle by our side. We might have walked a bit, checking out different spots along the bridge, as if they offered drastically different views of the water. It's not even a long bridge, but somehow on that night it could contain a conversation that seemed to stretch very far, if only with possibilities. And, indeed, when we eventually, finally, got to the end...the Cambridge end of the bridge, at any rate, which I guess from another perspective would be the beginning, he, in one swift motion, kissed me. I don't need to tell you that memory plays tricks and realigns everything into a stupid movie script, but in my mind the headlights of an isolated passing car chose that moment to briefly light the edges of our being.

In his defense, the foolish man was a bit drunk. This became more apparent when he needed to descend to the bushes underneath the bridge to relieve himself. It's hard to say if this made the moment more or less romantic, really. Less ambiguous in that regard was his admission that he, at this beginning or end point of the bridge, "unfortunately" had to head off right, to the east, "home to his boyfriend." That boyfriend, it turned out, owned a restaurant that I'd eaten at several times, although I only liked one thing on the menu. Yet, somehow, a few days later, we talked on the phone and ended up, aptly enough, going for a long bike ride together that had, if memory does not again deceive me, its share of meaningful silences. There was a second kiss, but by then it was decidedly bittersweet.

Thanks to a friend for reminding me of this. Sorry I didn't go with, as you suggested, Scissor Sisters' "Bicycling With The Devil" for the entry. It was only partly a high camp comedy, you know.


  • Wonderful. You surprised me a bit with this. I think you are great for telling this very personal story. I have one like it, but it's raunchier and involves a car and ...nevermind! :)

    By Blogger xolondon, at 5:14 AM  

  • i ride a bicycle everyday, nothing like that ever happens to me

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:48 PM  

  • Well, I...I mean, the narrator of the story is very instantaneously charming, and capable of earning kisses at will. As long as it's two in the morning. In a place when no other humans are around. From drunken men. But, no, maybe you really don't want the story to happen to you. It wasn't like it turned into a Letter to Penthouse.

    XO, I wondered if my telling of the story surprised you, or if, the behavior of the narrator in the story did, but maybe I don't want to know.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 8:33 PM  

  • Is "only liked one thing on the menu" a metaphor? :-)

    By Anonymous esque, at 7:00 PM  

  • maybe you're right and this track is nore appropriate than "bicycling with the devil"...
    never heard about this band though, should i have?

    By Anonymous arnault, at 9:03 PM  

  • "One thing on the menu" is a metaphor. Although it was also literally true. The one thing was a noodle dish. That isn't a metaphor. Or is it?

    Bliss is, to be frank, a fairly anonymous downtempo group that gets anthologized in a million Cafe Del Mar compilations, although I really like this song. One of their biggest distinctions is their use of Sophie Barker, who's also sung with Zero 7, on some of their tracks.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 9:31 PM  

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