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Pride and Kisses

I’m not quite sure what to make of this article. The author tells the story of when she was abroad teaching English. She couldn’t make the rent and each month the landlord’s boyfriend would come around and give her the extra cash in exchange for being allowed to make out with her. No sex, but lots of kisses and probing tongues.

“I never took my clothes off, never touched him with my hands. He would come to my door and sometimes I would ignore his knocking, and other times I would drink his whiskey and let him slide his money to me. We would kiss. He would put his mouth on my mouth, just like that, no understanding of or attempt at romance, just a swoop and grab and his face would be against mine and his tongue, unschooled and thick, prodding my own.”

That sounds pretty terrible to me. And she goes on to explain how she felt, “Sometimes I would feel guilty about the money. Other times I felt like I was suffocating and I couldn’t bear his animal tongue and saliva…” What I’m not sure what to make of is how she concludes. She concludes by thanking the fellow for helping her out with the cash and basically for not raping her. “I still feel an uncomfortable sense of gratitude, for his having understood I was desperate and offering me such a transaction, for his teaching me that there are times when it’s possible to play both predator and prey, for his decision to neither take too much from me nor give too little.

For his showing me there are concessions you make that you never dreamed you would. And that, try as you might, you will never forget them.”

All this because she didn’t want to admit she didn’t have enough cash and to ask her parents for it.

We each have our own point of view and experiences and it’s from there we judge the actions of others. From my point of view that brings up one of the most interesting things about pride. In order to save pride in the eyes of her parents, and thus admit to them defeat in her being on her own experiment she did something that – to me – was far more damaging to her pride. The difference as I see it is that she was able to hide one from her parents. My sense of pride doesn’t come from others. So for me who knows about it isn’t the important thing because no matter what – I KNOW.

In the case of the author having her parents know she needed money was worse than selling her self intimately. She tried to brush this off by saying it was only a kiss and she gave kisses away anyway. It’s clear though that it means a lot more than that to her. So much so that she still lingers on the time. I think perhaps she’s trying to make herself feel better still. That same pride that wouldn’t let her admit to her parents she needed help is keeping her from admitting to herself that she messed up and did something that left emotional scars and perhaps means she wasn’t as independent and successful as she thought she was.

People have an incredible capacity to lie to themselves in order to feel better.

They do this not only about their own actions but the actions of others as well. They do about the ideas of government, about their actions, their jobs, whatever it is they need to. We all do it. I’m not immune either. Where wisdom comes in is in knowing our limitations and knowing the things we are prone to lie to ourselves about. I try to frequently take stock of my thinking and how I’m doing and see if my imagination matches reality. I can get lost in my own mind sometimes and that’s a double edged sword. On the one hand it allows me to imagine lots of things and to work things out without having to actually experience them. On the other hand it can mean I think I’ve figured things out without having to experience them. Meaning sometimes I’m right, and sometimes I’m wrong. The sooner I’m able to learn when I am wrong the better off I am. I don’t ever want to be in the situation where I think selling kisses is a good idea or worse a noble pursuit that means I’ve been successful if you get my meaning.


“You need money,” he said to her. “And I need you.”

Source: The Kisses That Paid My Rent

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