Now that I’ve got corporate IT’s attention, let’s talk about something else.
I’m about to enter my 25th year as a journalist, so I’m going to share my … Most. Fun. Assignment. Ever.
My reader often asks this.
And just to make it clear to my bosses and my mother, and perhaps my wife, my most fun assignment did not involve unlimited sex. (Unfortunately.)
It did, however, involve kissing.
Valentine’s was approaching and I was scrambling to write something different about Feb. 14.
Inspiration can come from weird places. Mine came from Adam Sandler. I know.
Watching him smooch with Drew Barrymore in “The Wedding Singer,” I wondered about movie kisses and why they always seemed so magical.
Single at the time, I asked myself why real-life kisses were never that good.
So I contacted a local performer and asked if she’d show me how actors kiss — for a column, of course.
Not only did she agree, she offered to bring two friends!
We met in a coffee shop and discussed stage kissing.
They explained the various techniques and offered some advice, like, “If you’re going to kiss on film or stage, it’s always good when the other person smells nice.”
I was wearing Polo, thankfully.
Then it was time to kiss. All three of them.
I’m a shy guy, and started getting very nervous.
Kissing is an intimate thing. Two of these women were strangers, and I didn’t know the other that well.
I began blushing and sweating. Inside, I was freaking out.
But one by one, they kissed me the way they would another actor.
I left relieved and amazed, and smiling about what I had just gotten paid to do.
Immediately outside the door was a beer truck.
I decided to kiss that too.
My next column took up all of page three with a turn to page four.
Across the top of the full page were three pictures of me kissing a different woman.
On the turn, the text ended alongside a picture of me kissing the beer truck.
The narrative went something like real-life kisses and movie kisses are stressful, but drinking beer never is.
The reader reaction was crazy.
My phone rang off the hook and my in-box filled up.
“I sit in an office filing documents all day and you get to kiss beautiful women,” one person wrote.
“I wish I had your #$%^& job,” read another email.
“You are a loser,” stated another.
I honestly felt like a winner though. I still do today, because I had the privilege to write that column, as well as this one and thousands of other articles on everything from picket lines to pickup lines — “If I were the alphabet, I’d put U and I together.”
There has been laughter and tears, pressures and fears, but I couldn’t have asked for a more fulfilling profession, except maybe Bono’s.
This craft is changing, not dying.
We’ve never reached so many people and our challenge is finding a way to make journalism pay in a world overflowing with information that’s fake and free.
That’s not where I wanted to go with a column about that time I kissed three women for work.
But these days, when I think about the importance of journalism and how fulfilling it’s been for me, forgive me if I get a little kissed off.
Steve Bartlett is an editor with TC Media. He dives into the Deep End each Monday to avoid reality and memories of the first girl he kissed, a girl who broke up with him because he didn’t swear. Reach your columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org.