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Recently finished Stephen King’s latest novel, 11/22/63 and I have to say I enjoyed it more than I’ve enjoyed his books in a long, long time.  While I loved the interesting fantastic twist that the story hung on, it was the romance at the heart of the novel that really hooked me.  The love between the protagonist and the girl he met in his travels was deliciously romantic and yet felt so real and visceral, I almost felt like a voyeur.

Then we were together, first fumbling, then holding on tight.  It was kissing, but it was more than kissing.  It was eating when you’ve been hungry or drinking when you’ve been thirsty.  I could smell her perfume and her clean sweat under the perfume and I could taste tobacco, faint but still pungent, on her lips and tongue.

One thing that really resonated with me was the protagonist’s description of kissing his lover, and the taste of cigarettes on her breath.  It’s funny, our modern day sensibilities dictate that cigarette smoking is bad, that people who smoke have “ashtray breath” and kissing them is nasty– you see it in the anti-smoking advertising… and yet, even though I don’t smoke, in my experience when you kiss a smoker the taste of tobacco on her breath is sweet and erotic.

Of course, the bulk of King’s book is set in the early 60s when smoking is something that everyone does, and often quite a bit.  Reading it though made me realize both how long it had been since I’d really read a description of kissing and tasting tobacco… and how I kinda missed that taste myself.

I sat up and embraced her without even thinking about it.  She hugged me back, as hard as she could.  Then I kissed her, tasting her reality– the mingled flavors of tobacco and Avon.  The lipstick was fainter; in her nervousness, she had nibbled most of it away.  I smelled her shampoo, her deodorant, the sweat beneath it.  Most of I touched her: hip and breast and cheek.  She was there.

On a broader note, King’s description of those kisses reminded me of what I really love about kissing, the tasting of flavors in her mouth, whether it’s tobacco, or tequila, or chocolate, or steak… mmmmm…

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