It's stranger in Rome
How did I find myself "French kissing" an Italian man I had just met in Rome?
I knew that would get your attention.
I was in my early sixties (so a few years ago) and no one was more surprised than me because I had not been kissed in a very long time, let alone French kissed.
I had just arrived in Rome to attend and present at a forum for global female entrepreneurs. My driver had not shown up to take me from the airport to my hotel.
A driver from another company quickly offered to step in. He was a very handsome 50-something Italian gentleman who showed his credentials, and too weary to look any further, I accepted.
Our conversation "en route" went deep quickly. We found we shared a similar interest in world affairs, European politics, and travel.
Long story short, we hit it off somewhat (but it could have been the jet lag) and when he finally arrived at my hotel, he turned off the car and looked over and asked, "I don't usually do this, but may I kiss you?"
I don't usually do this, but I thought life is too short. Go for it.
I was expecting a peck on the cheek at most, but my Italian gentleman dove right in. Aiming right for my lips, parting them hungrily, searching for my tongue…
You are probably hoping for magic and fireworks, right?
It was bad.
Awful. Really terrible.
The Italian seemed pleased and asked me for dinner. I smiled (despite myself) and said a quick arrivederci—until we meet again—knowing thankfully that would never happen.
I don't know about you, but the kiss, especially a "French kiss," has always been my barometer for cementing sexual attraction.
No fireworks. No way.
Because I do remember my first French kiss. I was 14. He was 17. It was a beautiful sunny day at the beach, and this blonde blue-eyed young man who I had also just met had leaned in, parted his lips, and well, the earth moved.
Never saw him again, didn't care, but what a great memory! Whatever his name was set the bar very high and from then on, everyone else would be measured by that lusty, passionate first French kiss.
Coincidentally, during that trip to Rome, I was also in the process of starting my so-called "retirement" project, a blog about Paris and France. I am a journalist by trade and thought it would be wise to keep writing into this next chapter of my life and about something I am passionate about. Thus Woman of a Certain Age in Paris was born.
I figured no matter how old I get I will always be a "woman of a certain age," and Paris because it is like a "woman of a certain age," revered for its mature beauty, its seasoned wisdom, and its equal measure of femininity and feminism. And it never gets old.
All of this of course means that I had to find French stuff to write about. French kissing seemed like a perfect topic to explore.
So here is what I found out.
You might be surprised to learn that French kissing is not a French term. It was coined by British and American soldiers who learned this adventurous form of smooching from the French mademoiselles they met during World War II.
In fact, French kissing is normal kissing for the French, so there was no official word for it until 2014. That's when the dictionary, Le Petit Robert, formally recognized the slang galocher — which means kissing with one's tongue.
No idea why. Une galoche is an overshoe in French.
French kissing IS fun like sloshing around in the rain in galoshes, no?
Ok, I just made that up!
Thanks for being here for another week! I am in Mexico this week to attend the wedding of our godson. I am thrilled to be able to send out this weekly missive from this beautiful spot — my dream is to work from anywhere. Jonathan was the officiant and was both honoured and thrilled. He passed on a bit of advice to the bride that my mother-in-law gave me soon after we got married. I was telling her that Jonathan was “upset” about an expensive purchase I made for our home. “You don’t have to tell him everything,” she advised. Keeping a little bit of mystery has been my strategy for over three decades.
Thank you Diana Bishop, a woman of a certain age in Paris, for sharing your entertaining story with us.
Great piece! Loved it on so many levels.
What a joy to read!