By John Addyman
“How long have you been married?” he asked.
“52 years,” I told him.
“52 years…that’s a long time,” he said.
“Damn straight,” I told him.
When you confess to people how long you’ve been hitched, you can almost always guess the next question that pops up.
“So, what’s your secret?” I get asked.
“To being married for so long…”
I pause for a moment, because I get asked this question pretty frequently and I need to have an answer prepared.
“Her kiss,” I respond.
It’s at that point I generally get a look and another question. “What?”
Yes, my wife is a great kisser. I found that out when we started dating — when she was a junior in high school and I was in college. Even then, she was a graduate-school-level kisser. The first time we locked lips, it was like falling into a warm pillow. Like a spring night, she was sweet and soft and airy.
Over the years, she has changed; her kissing prowess has improved with the times. We’ve had some very good years.
And my wife has gotten more diverse in her lip-locking. For example, the other day I was standing in an upstairs hallway. I’m at the age where I’ve gone way beyond just occasionally walking into a room and stopping to remember why I went in there in the first place — now I stand in the hallway and wonder which room I was headed into so I can struggle to remember why I was going there, when I get there.
And while I stood there for a second, my wife came up and gave me a kiss on the cheek and patted my shoulder.
“What was that for?” I asked.
“It was a ‘just because’ kiss,” she explained, and off she strode — she knew where she was going and why.
For the next couple of hours, I thought about that kiss…and about a lot of other kisses.
My wife has learned over the years that I can’t fix anything and I should never have a power tool in my hands. That doesn’t stop me from trying to fix things and using power tools.
When we were in the first years of marriage, I tried to fix a hair dryer and managed to break a plastic piece that held the whole thing together. There was no way I could go into a hardware store and get a replacement piece: the dryer was trash now. In a fit of pique, I then smashed the thing to pieces.
Moments later, when I had reduced the dryer to dust particles, my wife came into the garage, where I had been working. She gave me a kiss on top of the head. That was her “I understand you’re a complete failure as a handyman but I love you anyway” kiss.
Not too long after that, my wife’s sister, Lynne, was helping me put away her snow tires in that same garage. She was supposed to be holding the ladder while I swung the tires up onto a platform.
Lynne did a lousy job. Just when I needed it most, she bent over to pick up something on the floor. The ladder slipped out from under me, and I did a trip around a beam and ended up flying onto the concrete floor — lucky for me, the aluminum ladder, which was on its side by now, broke my fall — and my arm.
At the hospital, my wife came in after my arm had been wrapped in a cast and gave me a kiss on my forehead. It was her “I’m sorry my sister is a ninny” kiss.
When I got stuck on the roof in our first house and she talked me down the ladder by threatening to call a lot of guys I knew in the fire department to come get me, she gave me a “You really do the stupidest things” kiss, followed by a hug and a “I’m glad you did something like this and not me” kiss.
The first morning my wife and I were together with our new baby, I gave her a thankful kiss for producing such a blessedly beautiful child. She gave me an “I’m thrilled you know how to change her diaper” kiss and pointed me toward the kid, who was wailing in the infant carrier the nurse rolled into the room.
Over the years we’ve shared great kisses…when our daughters were married—when we met our grandkids—when we sent kids off to college—when I got fired from a job and almost immediately got hired for another—when we had deaths in the family—when I got home after a long, tough day.
The best kisses are the ones I knew were coming, when she’d get that look in her eye — a look of understanding or affection or an expression of patience like her “Yes, I know you bought a lot of new records at the garage sale but wait until you see the dishes I just bought” kiss.
Her all-time best came on our 50th anniversary when she planted a passionate kiss reminiscent of those first days we knew each other, followed by a much more temperate, “Have we really been married this long?” kiss.
What’s the secret of a long marriage?
It’s in her kiss.