The Kissing Bandit Strikes again (this time at my son's birthday party)


I, my husband, and my very patient and generous mother-in-law were sitting outside waiting for pizza on a rainy night with nine children ranging in age from four to nine, when we first saw the "Kissing Bandit" appear on the T.V.

Through the glass window, footage from the 1970's and 80's showed the vivacious and buxom woman with the mane of blond hair running onto soccer, football, and baseball fields, hockey rinks, and basketball courts grabbing players or mascots, coaches and refs, and planting a big smooch on their surprised faces. They then showed her getting hauled off the field by security accompanied by cheers and applause.

This darling expose could not have come at a more appropriate time; a bunch of kids sick of the rain, sick of sitting still, and in need of some fine entertainment. It all seemed relatively innocent until a picture flashed up on the screen of the "Kissing Bandit" posing naked on a bed with crumpled sheets and a black censor over her breasts.

I imagine these party-goers will not be forgetting Will’s 8th birthday anytime soon.

When I was little, I recall sitting on my parent’s mauve carpet (wonder what decade I grew up in?) in front of the T.V. flipping through the channels looking for something to keep me company. Once I reached the higher channels there would be some funny business going on especially in the evening. We didn’t actually pay for these channels but every now and then something curious would pop up (pun intended) on screen, and although it was fuzzy or wavy, it was hard to miss what was happening.

Just thinking about what was known in classy, mature circles as "Picasso Porn" makes me giggle and feel nervous. When I couldn’t take the risk of getting caught viewing such racy static, I would change the channel to Star Search with Ed McMahon (who kind of resembled my dad) as the host. And my innocence and purity would then be restored as I watched a little girl in glitter sing her heart out.

Sex education in 5th and 6th grade meant learning that I could still swim and partake in regular activities when I had my period. Yay! I was also appreciative to learn that feminine care products had come a long way since the 50’s and no longer required belts for usage. I am not sure what the boys learned in their class because one kid thought my friend had her period out of her breasts. This caused a lot of confusion that day at recess.

I learned a lot, and I mean a lot, from the books, Are you there God, It’s me Margaret? and Then Again Maybe I Won’t by Judy Bloom. Generally, my memory is distant. I struggle often with remembering the names of actors and musicians and sometimes my own children. But somehow I remember exactly where those books are shelved in my elementary school library and the very vivid description of Margaret's first menstrual cycle.

Last weekend my son’s friend who moved out of state last summer called him on my cell phone to chat. I walked into the family room with a basket of laundry when I heard his friend ask, “So do you still want to kiss insert little girl’s name?" I pretended like I didn’t hear the question. My son looked at me with a twinkle in his eye as he gently slid in his socks on the bare wood floor to the back of the room. Then he quietly said, “No” with his hand over his mouth as he gracefully changed the subject.

It dawned on me, in that moment, that my little boy is really growing up. This was the same little man who laid on my chest for hours as a baby, and as a toddler would rather have played tag with me at the park than with other little people his own age.

I think about the fact that I don’ t want to be the weird mom that says too much and gets over-involved in my son’s romantic endeavors or the aloof mom who says nothing at all. My mom's tactic in high school was to water the plants in the family room while my boyfriend and I watched Brenda and Dillon break up again or Donna Martin graduate on Beverly Hills 90210. I would then sigh and roll my eyes at my adoring, curious, and concerned mom.

In the not so distant future, God willing, it will be my turn to annoy my son. But for now, however, I relish the fact that he still smiles when I enter the room, and that the only kissing bandit smooching him at his baseball games is me.