Though he’s been dead since 1900, Oscar Wilde is still wildly cherished. And, apparently, so is his grave. The Irish writer’s tomb can be found in Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery, and for the past 20 years, planting a big kiss on the stone has been in vogue. The Guardian reports that after one woman left a lipstick stain on the tombstone, a rash of visitors followed suit, adding their own lipstick marks as well as red-inked graffiti and hearts.
But all that affection can be damaging. It seems that the lipstick marks have been causing the stone to erode.
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“From a technical point of view, the tomb is close to being irreparably damaged,” Wilde’s grandson, Merlin Holland, told the Guardian. “Each cleaning has rendered the stone more porous, necessitating a yet more drastic cleaning.”
So the Irish office of public works stepped in and paid not only to have the the tombstone carefully cleaned, but also to have a glass barrier placed around it, preventing future smooches. The newly-scrubbed monument is to be unveiled on Wednesday.
So a kiss is just a kiss. Several thousand kisses, however, can create an eroding mess of a tombstone.