SUMMERS HERE, AND the time is right for dancing in the street. Or swimming in the lake. Or lounging in the hammock.
Or, especially if you are young, kissing in the woods. Or in fast-food parking lots. Or in your parents basement.
Spring, they say, is when a young mans fancy turns to thoughts of love. By summer, these fancies become full-blown intentions.
The intentions often turn into something entirely unintended: that glorious and ephemeral flame known as the summer romance.
Its the heat.
The heat makes us crazy.
It makes us see things that arent really there, such as the illusion of water in the wavy heat when, in actuality, there is nothing but pavement.
And the mirage of love that evaporates with the cool breezes of autumn.
They make movies about summer romance, inevitably a boy and girl silhouetted against a lavender-and-pink sky as the sun melts into a glittering body of water in the background. There is always a summer song, and it is always about yearning and loss, about how everything will be okay if you can just kiss her, and then, after you do, how she slips away. (Exhibit A: the bittersweet heartache in Caroline, No by the Beach Boys. Exhibit B: all the other Beach Boys songs.)
Some researcher somewhere, no doubt, has written a scholarly work on seasonal kissing. My hunch is that it confirms what we know: Most people experience their first romantic kiss in the summertime.
As Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote, I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year.
Perhaps Millay knew intuitively what science has since proved. This month marks the one-year anniversary of a study on kissing released by the University at Albany. The studys findings should guide all summertime lovers, especially men. The study showed -- and this is a stunner -- that men and women communicate different things while kissing. Men kiss to attain greater goals while women kiss as a means of mate assessment. Especially for women, a bad kisser can ruin an initial attraction. While many forces lead two people to connect romantically, says Gordon G. Gallup Jr., an evolutionary psychologist who was part of the team that led the study, the kiss, particularly the first kiss, can be a deal breaker.
MY FIRST KISS occurred in the summertime and was probably a lot like yours. I know, because I interviewed some of my friends, all of whom had similar experiences. Like theirs, my first memorable kiss was G-rated, but I recall it with equal measures of warmth and embarrassment.
I was 13, maybe 14.
I saw her as beautiful and unapproachable. She was a goddess. I saw myself as a doofus.
I stole away from a family vacation for our rendezvous, a word I had just learned and liked to use because it sounded exotic. As she and I strolled aimlessly through town, the sun beat down so hard it seemed to pant.
At her suggestion, we ambled onto a sun-dappled wooded hillside that descended to a fast-rushing river. It was cool among the trees. More important, it was secluded. No one could see us.
We stretched out on the ground, the sunlight landing in tiny patterns through the tree limbs. We talked. In the background, the river rushed.
Somebody leaned into somebody.
The world blurred.
Our lips touched.
The world disappeared.
I remember she was as soft as cotton candy.
My closed eyes went all liquid and my head sparked, and then melted, like an electrical mishap. I. Was. Kissing. Her.
I was no longer a doofus.
LOVE, OF COURSE, makes and unmakes, and then makes again, doofuses of us all.
Especially summer love.
And, make no mistake, I was in love.
I wrote poems -- or stole some lyrics from a couple of rock bands; I really dont remember which -- and mailed them to her. I even daydreamed about marrying her.
That was summer.
By October, I realized that what I was seeing wasnt actually there. The heat of passion had passed, and my brief summer romance had evaporated.
But that kiss lingers.
Thank heaven for the summer heat.