The sweet spot is technically that small piece of acreage that exists on a child’s face between the point of his or her chin, and the neck. It is that loosey goosey chicken wobble fold of skin, soft as bread dough and sweeter than puppies, that you almost can’t see. If you can fit a smooch in there you’ll know exactly what I mean-it’s addictive. It’s the sweet spot. It is a bit like Mrs. Darlings kiss-that elusive one that purportedly hovers about one margin of her mouth, and try though you might, you cannot actually capture it. I keep expecting the sweet spot on my daughter’s face to disappear as seamlessly as the childhood dents did from her knuckles, but it has remained. Of course, now that she is ten, when I swoop in for a snack of it, she groans and “mah-ahahahahams” me; but I suspect it will stay there into adulthood, appearing and disappearing as spontaneously as the hummingbirds she loves so well. Flickering into view and pulsating away, like a peacock bee.
“Her romantic mind was like the tiny boxes, one within the other, that come from the puzzling East, however many you discover there is always one more; and her sweet mocking mouth had one kiss on it that Wendy could never get, though there it was, perfectly conspicuous in the right-hand corner.”
Further Elaborations about the Sweet Spot
I suspect they aren’t all hidden in the same place. In “House on Mango Street,” Sandra Cisneros wrote one of my all time favorite chapters in fiction, when her young protagonist -Esperanza Cordero- describes her family’s hair:
Everybody in our family has different hair. My Papa’s hair is like a broom, all up in the air. And me, my hair is lazy. It never obeys barrettes or bands.
Carlos’ hair is thick and straight. He doesn’t need to comb it. Nenny’s hair is slippery –slides out of your hand.
And Kiki, who is the youngest, has hair like fur.
But my mother’s hair, my mother’s hair, like little rosettes, like little candy circles all curly and pretty because she pinned it in pincurls all day, sweet to put your nose into when she is holding you, holding you and you feel safe, is the warm smell of bread before you bake it, is the smell when she makes room for you on her side of the bed still warm with her skin, and you sleep near her, the rain outside falling and Papa snoring. The snoring, the rain, and Mama’s hair that smells like bread.
It’s clear where Esperanza’a sweet spot is; right by her mother, in an early morning cuddle. And a little bit left other for the rest of the family. Discovering someone’s sweet spot is like getting a handle on their “ingness.” For example, if you were to know my sister, you may not notice right away her superfine angel hair, or the small puckering dimples that appear out of the blue right above the very corners of her mouth at unexpected moments. You may not be able to put into words the Nikkiness of her hands-but I will tell you that they are surprisingly small for her height, and flutter about like chatty birds. You probably wouldn’t guess that she’s got some wicked good dance moves, or that when she sleeps, her breath smells like Strawberry Shortcake’s friend Apricot. Those are her sweet spots.
Here’s an inventory of some more sweet spots:
Daughter: has large gap teeth, and crazy messy curls. She has a genuine belly laugh that can be summoned at the drop of a hat, and of course, the magic spot right under her little thumbprint chin.
Niece number 1: has wonky pinkeys, and soulful planes that smooth across her cheeks when she stops her kinetic acceleration just long enough to see how beautiful she is. She is also has a particular posture in which it seems some invisible weight is pressing down on her shoulders most the time, and little feet as fine and curling as fall leaves.
Niece number 2: also has magically appearing puckers immediately above the corners of her mouth, and a funny little dragging walk. She has a Samantha Mortenson lisp and smile that is so incredibly cute, it obscures all rational thought, and makes it nearly impossible to focus on what she is ever saying. She seems to be pulled to the ground, more than pushed, when she walks. She is a walking sweet spot, in all honesty, but in specificity -her feet make me think of tiny loaves of banana bread.
Brother in Law: has a graceful, looping walk and strong back that makes me think of ballet dancers, and a slightly protuding upper lip when he smooches, which means whenever he kisses his girls or sister, it is a cheerio pucker. He smells like Old Spice and niceness. Or maybe Old Spice smells like niceness. (Or maybe he just smells like Old Spice, and we know he’s nice;)
Noni: has skin that feels more and more like rose petals, the older she gets. Her hair is crazy thick, and Bonnie Rait beautiful. Her neck probably still has a sweet spot too, stored from when she was 3 years old. When she sleeps, she crosses her hands across her chest, and slides into sleep as politely as the Queen of England. She wakes up with the same finesse. She has nice dutch hands, with square clean nails, and superpowers of patience and actual strength.
Papa: has secret Santa Clause cheeks that pop out like apples when he belly laughs. His beard looks wiry, but is surprisingly soft, and his hands are almost exactly like mine, just older and wider. He also has a baritone he brings out heartily when Noni is playing the piano.
Gigi (Great Gma): has rose petal skin too, and a soothing, distracted air about her. I don’t know that she ever hums, but when I think of her, I think of humming, so that perhaps in my mind, she is conflated with a song. Her energy travels a peaceful frequency and settles the air around her, so that the very thought of her is a song. That’s her magic.
Husband: has feet like a hobbit, flat and wide, and cushioned. Very nice for resting mine under. When he types, he almost doesn’t bend his knuckles. For some reason, I fell in love with his typing motion first. He has dimples that come out when he’s pretending to be threatening, buried so deep, they almost look like smile lines. I fell in love with them second. They come out sometimes when he’s sleeping, his face smashed into a pillow.
And all this talk of sweet spots brings me to my point. Life has some sweet spots. Some of them as predictable as a ray of sun resting across your bed in late afternoon, some hidden under rocks. Husband turned 40 today, and there was no hullabaloo. His nicest present was a ziplock bag of taco seasoning. (No, really!) And as much as we tried to make a moment with some candles in a store bought cake, presented to him as he sat on our bed amid an avalanche of clothing (while he folded), we didn’t find it there. Sometimes, the sweet spot cannot be bought, cajoled or planned for. It comes, unbidden as a hummingbird, to rest where it may, flitting off as soon as it’s noticed. Right before he went to sleep, after a highly uneventful day, we opened an attachment, of two tiny blonde girls, singing in bathtub. One with a lisp, who didn’t know exactly why she was singing, and one with wonky pinkeys, who’s eyes widened at exactly the right moments. “Happy Birthday to YOU (eyes widen), Haaappy Birthday TO (eyes widen) you…” It was off-key bliss, for a few short seconds. It was the sweet spot. Happy Birthday husband. And many more…..