Some couples peck. Others press their lips together in a lingering canoodle.
Anything goes under the kissing ball in Langley.
What’s up with that?
This Whidbey Island village has its own form of year-round mistletoe.
The kissing ball hangs above a red heart painted on the sidewalk in front of the John L. Scott Real Estate office at 216 First St.
Stand on the heart and have at it. A running tally makes every smoocheroo count. The chalkboard keeps score, with a basket of chalk at the ready to record the deed.
In June, 468 kisses were documented. As of Monday, more than 400 kisses were logged for July.
The waterfront town is known for its art and quirky charm. Bunnies lounge on lawns and hop down the lanes. There’s a bell to ring when someone spots a whale.
The kiss tally was designed in 2013 for the annual downtown Deck the Doors Christmas contest, said Cheryl Keefe, owner of the John L. Scott office. “You team up with a local artist and have them decorate your office. Elaine Michaelides, a super-talented artist, made this mythical orb, the kissing ball.”
A sign explains the lore: “Since ancient times the mystical power of the elegant kissing ball has been known to incite overwhelming magnetic attraction. The hearts, lips and soul of innocent bystanders will mysteriously be drawn together. Please use with caution.”
Or reckless abandon.
During that 2013 holiday season, 398 kisses were planted. It was so popular, Keefe decided to leave it up and keep tabs.
“We have had over 12,500 people kiss since we started — 12,000 people. We only have 1,000 people in Langley,” Keefe said. “It’s one of those neat tourist things, ‘We kissed in Langley.’ ”
There aren’t T-shirts to buy with the slogan. Not yet. There’s not even a social media hashtag. All there is to show for it is a hash mark and maybe a selfie.
It’s done on the honor system. After puckering up, reach into the basket of chalk and add a tally mark on the board. Rather than cheat and add more, Keefe suspects there’s a lot of people who just kiss and run without leaving a mark.
In 2014, there were 2,204 documented kisses. In 2015, the annual count dipped to 1,527, but climbed to 2,801 kisses in 2016. In 2017, a whopping 3,587 kisses. So far this year, about 2,500 kisses have been chalked up.
The real estate folks take the kiss tally serious. They chart kisses as if these were home sales.
Terri Doucette, administrative assistant, keeps an eye on the action from the front desk. Under her watch, the chalkboard stays shipshape and she tracks every mark.
“The first of the month I add it up, erase the board and start all over again,” Doucette said.
She finds more than hash marks. “Sometimes kids who are learning how to write will write their name on there,” she said. “Sometimes there’s little love notes between people. Stuff you’d see carved on a tree. ‘Kevin loves Julie,’ things like that.”
Don’t have a date or a mate?
She said some people kiss their dogs.
Texans Mike and Nancy Reed were enjoying a weekend on Whidbey when they stopped for a kiss.
“After you’re married for a while, you forget to kiss,” Nancy Reed said. “We don’t kiss enough. We’re so busy with our lives and grandchildren we forget.”
“She’s a good kisser,” her husband said. “That’s why I married her.”