I can remember the time when I decided I was no longer going to kiss my parents. I was still in junior school, which means the oldest I could have been was 11, but I had this idea that only little boys kissed their parents and I was no longer a little boy.
As an adult I am not anti-public displays of affection. I have no problem kissing or hugging my wife or holding her hand in public. I am not the most open, though, when it comes to showing my feelings. I am very good at hiding whatever it is that is going on deep inside of me so that it is often impossible for others to know if I am ecstatic, deeply depressed or just plain ambivalent. I have been told I have the same expressions for all these moods and more.
Before our son was born my wife sometimes panicked that I wouldn’t show emotion towards my son. She was afraid that I wouldn’t kiss him or hug him. Part of me was offended by this idea of me, of course I was going to kiss him, just so long as he wanted me to. But then I wouldn’t show I was offended because, well, that would mean showing emotion.
When Mr. T was born I didn’t kiss him straight away. This was not down to some hyper-male repressed emotions thing, but a rational fear. Of all the things I would like to pass on to my son: my stunning good looks, sky-high IQ, great sense of humour, support for The Blues and my modesty, there was one thing I absolutely did not want to pass on to him: my cold sores.
In Brazil cold sores are called herpes because they are essentially the same virus and believe you me, it is almost as embarrassing to get a cold sore as it is to have the other version of herpes.
I have read that the main way to pass on herpes or cold sores or whatever you want to call them is when an adult kisses a baby. I was determined not to let this happen and so for the first few weeks I gave him Eskimo kisses instead of the more traditional kisses. I am half convinced that the first word he learnt was ‘Eskimo’ as daddy came in for another nose rub.
Over time I grew less paranoid about passing on my dreaded disease. If I felt a tingle in my lips then I wouldn’t kiss him, but thankfully since he was born I haven’t had an outbreak of cold sores so it hasn’t been an issue.
Until last week.
I had a terrible Tuesday. I woke up at about 2 am with an ache in my back. Try as I might I couldn’t get back to sleep. A couple of hours later I had an ache in every muscle and joint in my body. When I eventually got up I was tired to the bone, more that could be explained just by a lack of sleep.
I cancelled all of my classes and got ready to spend the day on the sofa watching repeats of The Sopranos (I have decided to watch all 5 seasons in one go). Unfortunately at 3pm a big storm hit and knocked out all the electricity for a few hours, so I had nothing to do except lie on the sofa feeling sorry for myself.
Fortunately it was just a 24 hour thing and so the next day, while I was still a bit stiff in my muscles, I was essentially fine. I went back to classes and life resumed as normal. On the Saturday I felt a tingle in my lips and rushed to find my Zovirax which normally does the trick. By Sunday I had cold sores all over my bottom lip and I was constantly applying more and more cream to fight it off.
It was painful. It was embarrassing. It was at times difficult to eat. But the worst part was that I couldn’t kiss my son. he isn’t the most affectionate of children, but he does like the occasional kiss and cuddle. But when he came to me for a kiss, I was too afraid to even give him a nose rub. It hurt, and not on a physical level but deep down inside me.
After about a week the sores had all but disappeared, but i I was still worried about kissing him properly. I resumed the Eskimo kisses, but it wasn’t enough.
He has just gone to bed now and my mouth feels fine. I think tomorrow I am going to give him a great big kiss. Assuming he lets me, of course.
Violent Femmes – Add It Up: it contains the lyric ‘Why can’t I get just one kiss?’ This is one of my all time favourite songs.
Or maybe this is a better version. I just don’t know.