Kiss My Wife or Fight Me.
There are few married men who are not averse to seeing their wives kissed, but an exchange relates the particulars of a case in which a newly wedded Benedict felt himself insulted because his wife wasn’t kissed. The bridegroom in question was a stalwart young rustic, who was known as a formidable operator in a free fight. His bride was a beautiful and blooming young girl, only sixteen years of age, and the twain were at a party, where a number of young folks were enjoying themselves in the good old fashioned pawn-playing style. Every girl in the room was called out and kissed, except B., the beautiful young bride aforesaid, and although there was not a youngster present who was not dying to taste her lips, they were restrained by the presence of her herculean husband who stood regarding the party with a sullen look of dissatisfaction. They mistook the cause, however, for suddenly he expressed himself.
Rolling up his sleeves he stepped into the middle of the room, and in a tone that secured marked attention, said: “Gentlemen, I have been noticing how things have been working for some time, and I ain’t half satisfied. I don’t want to raise a fuss, but—“
“What’s the matter, John?” inquired half a dozen voices. “What do you mean? Have I done anything to hurt your feelings?”
“Yes, you have; all of you have hurt my feelings, and I’ve just got this to say about it. Here’s every girl in the room has been kissed near a dozen times a piece, and there’s my wife, who I consider as likely as any of ‘em has not had a single one to-night; and I just tell you now, if she don’t get as many kisses the balance of the night as any gal in the room, the man that slights her has got me to fight—that’s all. Now go ahead with your play!”
If Mrs. B. was slighted during the balance of the evening, we did not know it. As for ourselves we know that John had no fault to find with us individually, for any neglect on our part.
Newark [NJ] Daily Advertiser 28 October 1862: p. 2
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Kissing games, with their delightful transgression of normal social restraint, were, as one might expect, exceedingly popular. In this case, a particularly mirthful frisson was added to the programme:
A new seaside sensation is the “kissing game,” in which a blindfolded gentleman is to be kissed by a lady, whose name he is to guess. The kissing, however, is done by a beardless gentleman, and when various ladies are named by the blinded victim as the authors of his felicity, the merriment naturally grows intense.
Mirror and Farmer [Manchester NH] 3 October 1874: p. 6
Things, of course, might go wrong with such a fraught frolic: broken marriages, fatal transmission of smallpox and diphtheria, hat-pin stabbings, and clerical fisticuffs when objections were made to a kissing game at a church social: all are found in the historical record. Mrs Daffodil was also struck by the extraordinary number of deaths associated with the entertainment and it is refreshing to find that Mr B. was not about to add to their number.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.