Ah, kissing. The universal sign of affection. We see it everywhere – couples kissing on campus, a mother kissing her infant son, a fellow student kissing a teacher’s … well, you know.
Kissing also is the universal sign of awkwardness. I’d long forgotten the agony of the first adolescent kiss until I watched my 15-year-old brother come home from his first date this weekend. I watched through the window as he fidgeted nervously with his house keys. Scratched his hair self-consciously. Licked the front of his braces. And then went in for the kiss.
Truth be told, I probably shouldn’t have been getting a sadistic joy out of this. After all, I was the one who had nothing better to do on a Friday night than make up a play-by-play of the awkward end to my kid brother’s date. But it brought a smile to my face knowing that no matter who you are or what your age is, the first kiss is painful.
My first kiss came in the seventh grade. I had been “going out with” (because that’s what it was called in junior high, though we never really “went out” anywhere) a football player named Cory for several months, and yet we’d never kissed – much to the amazement of our peers. At 12, we simply had better things to think about. Eventually, though, we were forced to concede to peer pressure, and have the dreaded and feared first kiss.
Finally, in front of the pinball machine at the local bowling alley with all of our cackling friends in attendance, we shared an obligatory peck. It was quick and awkward and coerced, but the deed was done.
I’ve kissed a number of guys since then, and in the eight years since that first kiss, it has never gotten any easier. There is just entirely too much to consider when going up to bat. So much at stake. Your kiss could be too sloppy. Too wet. Not wet enough. Too quick, too long, too inebriated, too gross. You never know. You have no idea what that other person is thinking when you swing for first base.