Kiss me once and kiss me twice . . .

February 13, 1993|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,Staff Writer

A lover's lane, a car and a kiss: Filtered through imperfect memory, idealized by time, pitching woo in the "old days" seems so simple compared to today's convoluted courtship rituals.

Back then (whenever that was) it was enough to find an undeveloped cul-de-sac (Nacirema Lane in Baltimore County was a favorite, according to one fortysomething Baltimorean) or a silent construction site. Couples could park at Loch Raven Reservoir, the overlook at Druid Hill Park, get lost in the Cylburn woods or Robert E. Lee Park. Before the auto, lovers walked to a point above the Gwyns Falls and kissed as the 11 p.m. locomotive passed by.

Today, those bent on wooing in the wilderness have a hard time finding a place to kiss. The cul-de-sacs are over-populated and nearby parks and woods have earned reputations as criminal outposts.

As a sufficient physical expression of love, the kiss itself has hit on hard times. Fast-forward sexual mores and complicated lives conspire to make it obsolete; a corny throwback malingering in old movies and "When I was your age . . ." reflections.

With a little effort, it may be possible to resuscitate the kiss, as an end in itself, and a prelude to nothing -- except, perhaps, another kiss.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, the perfect occasion to reinitiate the delectable art of kissing. But where? Those in need of guidance may refer to the following directory of local kissing landmarks and strategies:

* The Washington Monument in Mount Vernon. Climb the 228 steps to the top, kiss breathlessly and enjoy a panorama of Baltimore. Grasp the banister carefully on the way down.

* Under the Domino Sugar sign for a sweet kiss, amplified at night by all that overhead voltage.

* Attend open houses at mansions and country estates that are for sale. Steal away to a far corner, preferably one with a view of rolling countryside or the Chesapeake Bay. Kiss.

* Pass the time at Baltimore's longest red light -- 4 minutes and 36 seconds westbound on Northern Parkway at Falls Road -- with a kiss.

* Go to Lexington Market, buy six chocolate-covered cherries from the Louis J. Rheb Candy Co., exchange them under the market's big clock, and kiss three times.

* Rent the private viewing booth at the Senator Theatre, preferably while "Howards End" is showing. Munch popcorn and kiss.

* In Druid Hill Park's wonderful glass conservatory, it is tropical and lush year 'round: the perfect kissing climate.

* Take the trail down below the Prettyboy Dam, make like it's Niagara Falls and kiss in the mist.

* Wander through a college campus, read the broadsides and ads posted to kiosks, remember what it was like to be 18 and kiss. Then, go home and study.

* Take light rail through Robert E. Lee Park and kiss while the train is crossing scenic Lake Roland.

* Scale Television Hill, (but not the tower), take in the view and kiss.

* Ride the glass elevator at the Hyatt Hotel while kissing. Note: Ascending while kissing provides the best cinematic effect.

* Move in -- temporarily -- to a bedroom or kitchen display at IKEA or other furniture store. Kiss in the dinette or on the king-size bed.

* Amid the monkeys and the elephants, the penguins and thundering stroller herds, it is easy to get lost at the Baltimore Zoo. Walk arm in arm and kiss. (Zoo-phobics can visit Ladew Topiary Gardens in Harford County, where boxwood critters abound, or the marble animal sculpture garden on the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus.)

* Sit on adjacent swings at a playground and kiss (or kiss on top of a jungle gym).

* Kiss at "The Kiss," Rodin's famous sculpture at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Nearby, Van Dyck's "Rinaldo and Armida," a terribly romantic painting, complete with floating cupids, graces the wall. Or find the love seat, hidden behind Jean Arp's sensual sculpture, "Torso," and kiss invisibly.

* Train stations are so romantic, Penn Station included. Sit on a bench, watch people come and go, pretend one of you has to catch the Montrealer, and kiss goodbye. (Repeat performance at BWI, if desired.)

* Jump into an indoor pool, splash and kiss until the lifeguard blows the whistle on you.

* Sit at the counter at a diner, spin on the stools and kiss. (Or sit on the same side of a booth, play "Ebb Tide" on the juke box and kiss.)

* Find an old wharf, pier, isolated boatyard or marina, somewhere that is true Baltimore and still a little gritty, and kiss soulfully. Beware of lurking "Homicide" camera crews.

* If you don't have a boat, hire one. Take a ferry or a water taxi, somewhere, anywhere. Water is an ideal medium for kissing.

* Buy beepers, beep each other at work, meet each other on the street and kiss. Go back to work.

* Find a seldom-traveled aisle in the central branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library -- doesn't matter whether it's fact or fiction -- and kiss. Don't forget your library card.

* Walk by the H & S Bakery on S. Bond Street and kiss to the aroma of bread baking.


A holiday of ancient Rome

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