May 7, 2024 Short Story

Terms and Conditions

Terms and Conditions Artwork by DALL·E

Must be sixteen or older and show valid identification

I don’t personally have a problem with younger boys, but rules are rules. I’ve wanted to be the girl in the carnival kissing booth since I was twelve. Back then I had braces, though, so maybe it wouldn’t have been such a great idea, even if it wasn’t against the law. But look at me now, kids: a straight set of teeth and finally Nevada-legal and ready. Bring it on, brother. Just make sure to have your ID with you.

Must not appear intoxicated

Yes, probably a good rule. I’ve had a few run-ins with drunks, and it was never pretty, believe me. “Hey little girl, want to make an old man happy?” one once said to me, two blocks off the Strip. He was holding a bottle of Old Granddad. “Sweetcakes? Want a sucky pop?” another called out, around the corner from the MGM Grand, sitting with a Four Roses at his feet.

Management reserves the right to turn away any individual

Even though I work here, I do not know exactly how “management” makes such decisions. Maybe if the guy is all sweaty -- wearing a tank top with black smudges on the front, grease in his hair, a cigar dangling from the corner of his mouth, smelling like a rubbish bin -- this would set off a warning whistle? I’ll use my own instinct and scrutiny to decide yea or nay, thank you.

Limit of one voucher per individual

I suppose this does have its merit, although what if I really liked the guy? I might actually want him to crack another kiss on me, even if he has to go to the back of the line and wait all over again. But I guess this probably isn’t a bad rule. I mean, I do have a boyfriend. Not that anyone needs to know.

Open to both males and females

Males only for me, though, my friends. We have a few guys on staff to make the girls happy. As a matter of fact, even a few girls who work the booth are open to the same sex. I think some even prefer it. Why discriminate? It’s all good. È tutto buono, as they say in Italy. But this isn’t Italy. This is Vegas, man. City of Sin. Everything you’ve heard, one hundred percent of it, just so you know, is true.

Time limit: five seconds

This is the only rule that made me stop for a moment and wonder if I really wanted this job. You might say five seconds is, like, no time at all, but imagine the ugliest loser you’ve ever known making his way to you with a valid ticket, waving it right in front of your face, wearing a devilish smile, closing his eyes, and puckering his big fat rubbery blubbery lips. Gross, man. Those five seconds feel like forever plus some. But I’m learning to deal.

No second kisses

Same comment as the one above about only honoring one voucher per person. By the way, isn’t a voucher something that offers a complimentary service or item? This isn’t no free ride, baby. One hundred dollars a ticket. No exceptions. Buck up, pal.

No French kissing

Agreed. That’s reserved for my boyfriend, as well as a whole lot of other things, I might add.

No touching except for a bodily embrace suitable for a general audience

Who crafted these rules anyway? Some hot shot New York lawyer? Maybe the language evolved over time, as carnies grew to learn what can and will happen in a kissing booth without regulation? Rule or no rule, some cat touches me in a sacred place and next you’ll see him flying ass-first toward the fucking Ferris wheel. Could even get caught in the spokes for all I care.

No conversations

I’d welcome a little chatter from a cute boy who has a good game. I can’t see any harm in that, although we all know what goes on here is completely fake and superficial – everything seen, everything heard, everything said, everything done. Also, talk would hold up the line, which does get quite long. Time is money.

Individual staff may have additional rules that will be made known

You got that right, sister, and mine happens to involve breath. Please use mouthwash or a very strong mint of some sort. I beg you. If you’ve recently had Greek food, forget it. That stuff is vile; there’s no way to quickly extinguish it. Time is the only cure. But take heart – I’ll still be here tomorrow. I finally got a paying gig and the general economy is wretched. I’m not going anywhere else soon.

Must sign voucher and produce it for collection before proceeding

So, now that we have all of that out of the way, I pronounce you fit and ready to partake. Today I’m wearing all white. My choice. Just felt like it. And though I have no intention of getting married anytime soon, with the choir and angels and happy party people all around us, you may kiss the bride.