Occasionally an announcement would come over the address system at my school: “There will be no public display of affection at Lincoln High School.” PDA, as it is sometimes called, was forbidden and a cause for disciplinary action. I was never sure what the principal was referring to, since I had witnessed neither kissing nor hand holding in the halls. Apparently, however, some couples had found a way to do some surreptitious smooching leaning into their lockers.
Such discomfort surrounded public displays of affection, much less of any sexually suggestive behavior, that all sorts of boundaries were common. On television, couples slept in twin beds. The first appearance of Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show only showed him from the waist up since his pelvic gyrations were not seen as appropriate family entertainment.
Imagine my reaction back then if I knew that I would some day see couples in parks “carrying on.” In Portland, where I used to live, there have been complaints about a full range of sexual activity in doorways and sidewalks. In New England we seem to remain more subdued, though our weather may play a part in it!
PDA seems to be defined very differently around the world. Here an occasional quick kiss seems to be allowable, as long as the couple is either heterosexual or family members. I don’t know how it is other places, and would welcome any shared insights from my readers.