KISS ME QUICK
A local news programme once informed me this city is the further from the coast in the whole of the Britain. Whilst this may have some advantages in this age of freak weather and rising sea levels, on the rare occasion that I find the sun blazing down and a commitment free weekend ahead I find myself pining for the nostalgic pleasure of the seaside; ice creams, sticks of rock, stripey deckchairs et al. I can't quite recollect if this image stems from an actual childhood memory or from years of Sunday sitcoms and carry on movies, but just imagining lungs filled with salty air and the cacophonous squawking of circling gulls transports me to a happy place far from the concerns of everyday life.
I was walking through the park on my way to the supermarket, iPod blasting at full volume in an attempt to let Bill ‘Lovely Day’ Withers transport me away from the graffiti and dog crap reality of my journey. This was a route that I'd taken many times before, and the fact that we were experiencing freakishly good weather for April did little to detract from the fact that the Nobby Herring Memorial Park was a grim place, preferred hangout of drug dealers and local disaffected youths and not somewhere you would wish to linger for any longer than strictly necessary. I was, as usual, trying to avoid making eye contact with anyone else unfortunate enough to be in the locale, when out the corner of my eye I saw a flash of brilliant blue. Taken aback by something so colourful against this dismal backdrop, I broke with my usual rule and looked up to see a barefooted girl wearing a billowing blue dress dancing on the dead grass, rucksack at her side.
'She sells seashells on the seashore. She sells seashells on the seashore.'
I'd had a relatively heavy night on the town but I was pretty sure that I wasn't seeing things.
'Hasn't anyone told you it's rude to stare?'
The girl stopped dancing and was now stood still, hands on hips and head tilted coquettishly.
'I'm sorry, it's just that I was daydreaming that I was walking along the beach rather than negotiating the litter in this dump, and then there you were, singing about seashells. Weird.'
I was about to walk on but she was staring at me intently in a way that suggested she was waiting for me to speak.
'Er, I've not seen you here before. Are you local?'
'Maybe you just haven't been looking properly. Aurora.'
'Steve. Pleased to meet you'.
Aurora sat down, dress spread in a circle, and patted the ground, beckoning me to join her. Kicking aside a crumpled coke can, I accepted the offer.
'So, you were saying that you were dreaming of the sea?’ she said. ‘I love the sea. So romantic.’
'Me too, though to be honest I was thinking about the funfairs, donkeys and kiss me quick hats side of things rather than waves crashing on the shore.'
‘Kiss me quick hats?’ she repeated quizzically. ‘What’s a kiss me quick hat?’
‘Surely you must have heard of them;’ I replied. ‘When I was a kid my granddad used to always wear one when we went to the seaside. I found it mortifying, of course.’
‘And did he get many kisses?’
‘Well, given that my grandma was always at his side ready to fend off any admirers with her walking stick, unfortunately not.’
‘And do you have one of these famous hats in your wardrobe?’ she said with a grin on her face. ‘Because you know what, if you were wearing one right now, I might just have to...’
‘You might just have to what?’
‘Might just have to kiss you. Maybe quickly, or maybe like this’
She leaned over and lifted my chin with her hand until we were staring into each other’s eyes, then firmly pressed her lips to mine. In an instant I saw the Nobby Herring Memorial Park in a whole new light; in my nineteen uneventful years of existence there had been maybe half a dozen girls prepared to swap saliva with me and yet here I was with this beautiful stranger kissing me passionately and running her hands all over my body in broad daylight. It was like all my adolescent dreams came true all at once, and far more exciting than anything that the internet could provide.
The kiss must have gone on for a full minute before she pulled away, bringing me reluctantly back down to earth from what had felt like a truly divine experience.
‘I’m sorry, Steve’ she said apologetically. ‘I don’t normally do that kind of thing, I’ve no idea what came over me.’ She grabbed her bag and leapt to her feet.
‘Wait!’ I called out as she frantically brushed grass from her dress. ‘There’s no need to apologise, that was amazing. Want to grab a coffee or something?’
She shook her head.
‘No, I really have to go, I’ve got to get to a lecture. Maybe see you around?’
‘Yes, that would be great;’ I replied. ‘Can I give you my number?’
She shook her head again.
‘No, I don’t think so. But it was nice meeting you.’
With that curt reply she turned and walked away, leaving me dazed and confused. Had I really just shared the best kiss of my life with a random girl in the middle of the park?
Bemused, I rose to my feet. I wasn't really in the mood for grocery shopping anymore, but aware of the bare cupboards in my flat I begrudgingly decided to continue on my original mission. I reached into my jacket to retrieve my iPod; for once Bill Withers had been right, this had turned out to be a lovely day indeed. It was then that I sadly realised that if something seems too good to be true, chances are that it is. No wonder she had been keen to kiss me quick and squeeze me slowly; the spontaneous seduction had actually been the perfect cover for a thorough excavation of my pockets. No regrets though; in that instant I would have signed over my soul if only she had asked, so a £150 mp3 player and £16 in change were a comparatively small price to pay.