After turning a Boston Marathon tradition on its head, a Tennessee woman is now searching for the mystery man she shared a few playful kisses with during the race.
Barbara Tatge, 55, from Lakeland, Tennessee, was running in her first Boston Marathon this year when she heard about a local custom: The women of Wellesley, a town along the course, get kissed during the race. Her daughter, Paige, who is a student at Arizona State University, dared her to flip things around and get a picture of herself kissing a good-looking Wellesley man instead.
"Before I could even think about what I was doing, my feet were making my way towards this tall, good-looking man,'' Tatge told TODAY.com. "He was a great sport. There was no discussion about whether it would be a kiss on the lips or the cheek. It just happened to be a kiss on the lips."
A friend standing with the handsome stranger took the first photo on Tatge's cellphone, but it didn't come out right, so they kissed two more times to make sure they got a good shot. During the brief exchange, she didn't learn his name or anything about him.
"I turned to go back into the race and he yells out, 'Call me!''' Tatge said. "I realize he could've just been caught up in the moment, but I felt like I wanted to kick myself for not getting his number. I thought, what if this is one of those happenstance things and I didn't seize an opportunity that could be great? I know nothing about him except that he has a great smile."
The kiss with the stranger also put a little spring in her step. She ran the second half of the marathon in the same amount of time that she ran the first half — two hours and seven minutes.
"That kiss kind of put wings on my heels for the remainder of the race,'' she said.
Friday marked Tatge's 55th birthday. Since Paige wasn't able to find her the present her mother initially wanted, a Nike Dri-FIT Auburn University baseball cap, she decided she would get her a different gift.
"I could sense that she regretted not getting his number,'' Paige told TODAY.com. "I couldn't find the gift she wanted for her birthday, so I told her I'd find him instead. I don't think she thought I was serious! It's crazy the attention this picture has gotten."
"I said, sure, whatever, not thinking in this age of social media that this would take off as it has,'' Tatge said.
Paige sent the photo to the Wellesley Townsman newspaper to publicize it in hopes of finding the John Doe, but so far he has not been identified.
"I don't know if he's truly single, and if he is married, I would hope his wife has a good sense of humor because I was definitely the aggressor,'' said Tatge, who has been single since getting divorced seven years ago. "I'm not desperate to find him, and if he's married, I don't want to cause him any discomfort. This just all started because of my daughter."
Tatge travels frequently to Boston for business, but she's not even sure if the man is from the area, considering the Boston Marathon attracts people from all over the world.
"The best end to this story is that we find out who he is, he's single, and he would love to meet me,'' she said. "That would be the ultimate happy ending."