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The Sadistic Practice of the “First Kiss”

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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.




And denied.

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.

It’s nerve-wracking at best.

Society tells us it’s the cool thing to kiss. Television and movies are filled with these subliminal messages of sexual attraction. We all made out with our stuffed animals anxiously awaiting the day our Prince (or Princess) Charming would come and sweep us off our feet.


Oh, you didn’t do that?

I mean, me neither. Come on, what loser does that?

Fortunately for many of us, the hormonal craze gives us a backdrop to overcome kissing anxiety and pent up hormones that went repressed in high school. For some, alcohol provides a way for us to forget the clumsiness of the first kiss. It also allows us to forget our dignity and, incidentally, our pants.

And while I’ve spent most of my post-adolescence years waiting for that heart-stopping, earth-shattering, camera-spins-around-you-while-Sixpence-None-the-Richer amazing first kiss, I usually find myself settling for the clumsy, ungraceful peck-turned-face-consumption kiss.

(Which by the way, guys, don’t always assume the girl’s going to go for tongue. This has led to many wet and irritated faces.)

The perfect kiss doesn’t exist, for the simple reason that everyone’s perfect kiss is different. Some people want the slow kiss in the rain. (For the record, it’s just wet and cold and highly overrated.) Some want the hard and fast makeout session. Others just like the leaving-grandma’s-house, run-of-the-mill peck. So many varieties and so little time to discern between them in those split seconds between the move to initiate the kiss and the second the lips lock.

If the lips lock.

As in the case of my poor brother, many of us find ourselves uncomfortably shuffling away after a rejected kiss attempt. Maybe these people are the lucky ones. Once the humiliation subsides, they at least have the comfort of knowing they didn’t even have the opportunity to screw it up.

Okay, you still feel like a loser. I was just trying to help.

I’ll be back at home with my stuffed animals if anyone needs me.

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About Chelsea Smith

  • Chelsea, nice discussion about first kissing. I think the VERY FIRST kiss is rather traumatic, especially (guy speaking) if you don’t know if the girl likes you.

    Mine came at an 8th grade dance in the cafeteria next to the water fountain. It was quick, painless, and I wondered what all the fuss was about after the fact.

    Afterwards I kind of liked the challenge of a first kiss (most of the time) and the anticipation. And, if a really beautiful girl I was crazy about ended up being a terrible kisser, well that was a killer.

    Anyway, thanks for the post. It got the old memory working.

    PS> Now my daughter (4 years old) asks, “Daddy, when will a boy kiss me on the lips?” I always respond, “When you’re 40.” But I’m just kidding. 35 will be just fine with me.

  • My first kiss came in the sixth grade, from a fourth-grader to whom I said, “Hey, wanna try some of that kissin’ everybody’s always doin’?” She did.

    In retrospect, she was not pretty.

    My first REAL kiss didn’t come until I was fifteen. With my first real girlfriend. Greatest day of my life at the time.

    In retrospect, she became a lesbian.

    Oh, GOD, what’s WRONG WITH ME????

  • More posts like this! Less smarmy politics! More kissage!

  • I once had an idea for an invention. Dating flash cards. The girl carries flash cards in her purse and as the date comes to an end, she flashes the sign.

    “Kiss – cheek”
    “Kiss – lips”
    “Kiss – deep”


    No more mixed signals. The end of the date is always so anxiety filled. I am glad I am married. Dating blows.

  • That’s a good idea, DJRadiohead. And a natural evolutionary step into Foreplay Dice.

  • The first time Suss went in for the kiss, it was a clash of close-mouthed kiss (me) and full-on make-out (him), namely because I thought his roommate was still in the room (he wasn’t) and I didn’t want to be “that girl.”

    It was awkward at best. Thankfully I have him whipped enough now that he does what I tell him.

  • Well… yeah you could always go that route and have a dice roll. Then there is still suspense but resolution all the same.

    C’mon snake eyes!!!

  • The clash of close-mouth and full-make-out inevitably leads to slobber in unwelcome places.

    Says Confucius.

  • Not for all of us. Not for all of us. Dating just led to more masturbation.

  • ah yea!!! i DO remember the first one.

    the cool thing was that it was not me but her runnin’ the show, so to speak.

    i remember the explosion of thoughts:….mmmm, nice….hey, what’s she?…what’s that?!….OH MY GAWD, THIS IS SO COOL!!!

    hey, i was only 14. didn’t say i was articulate or anything.

  • Dating just led to more masturbation.

    Well it was masturbation with direction.

  • DJ,

    Great idea about the flash cards. Get them patented fast, man.

  • Just hold her shoulder or put your hand on her cheek and kiss her gently on the lips; let it linger just long enough to let everyone involved – you and her – know you wish it could be more.

    And then step back.

    It may not be what she always wants (often hard to tell, right?), but it isn’t ever going to be a “wrong.” If the woman wants more, she won’t let you step back.

    Also the hand on cheek or shoulder is when you’ll feel the pull away if she doesn’t want your kiss at all.

  • Wow, Temple … why haven’t I been kissing guys like you?

    Oh my God. Did I just hit on Temple in my own thread?



  • Come on, people. Dating is such a nebulous endeavor. We are sort of all wondering what and when and where without even thinking about why. Or, perhaps we are wondering why when….

    Look, the bottom line is that dating is a crappy thing in the long run. I did it for a long time and then got hooked up and then, even after a relationship fails, no one wants to start dating again. At least I didn’t.

    That first kiss is a constructed problem. Remember ANNIE HALL (yes, I am a dinosaur)? Woody Allen tells Diane Keaton (on their first date) to get the first kiss over with and then go out. And they do it, go out, and have a great time.

    Maybe everyone should try that.


    Her name was Lara and we were set up by friends. This, as you might expect, meant there was considerable outside pressure for a great first date, but that was nothing compared to the fact that she was completely stunning — which made me absolutely desperate to have a great first date.

    And it was. We took in dinner, a movie (BTW: in case you’ve ever wondered, Super Size Me is a surprisingly successful first date film), dessert, a nice walk, and drinks. Had a great time.

    At the end of the night, maybe 12:30, we both walked to the downstairs platform at the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro station so I could catch my train. But we kept talking, really not wanting it to end. But then the train came, and we both stood silently, neither ready to make the move.

    “…This is awkward,” Lara said.

    Yes, I thought. This IS awkward! Something must be done to rectify this awkwardness, and it must be done NOW!

    I’ve never moved so fast in my life. Within perhaps a tenth of a second, I’d taken a step forward, put a hand on her cheek, and put my lips to hers. She was so surprised she didn’t move a muscle, and that made me move back again immediately after about three seconds of kiss time and look at her a moment.

    She breathed in.

    “Wow,” she said. “…Wow.”

    And we kissed again.

    MORAL: Sometimes awkwardness is an asset in making that first kiss exhilarating.

  • “Napoleon Dynamite” is also a great first date movie.

    (Note: this was before it was totally mainstram and no self-respecting super cinemas would dare put it on their marquee. Suss and I are so trendy and indie.)

    (PS: Michael J. Fox, er, I mean, West, thanks. Not for anything in this thread. But you know what I mean. Thanks.)

  • Best first date movie EVER:

    Director’s Cut re-release of Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. That was me and my current girlfriend’s first date, which incidentally led to the Best First Kiss EVER.

    (P.S. You’re welcome.)
    (P.P.S. “Michael J. Fox?” Wow, I’ve never gotten that one before!)

  • Suss and I tried to watch that on our 1,543rd date. I fell asleep fifteen minutes in. But it’s the thought that counts.

  • I thought I would stop but I am still laughing just above comfortable here in the newsroom a couple of minutes after reading


    (Maybe it’s lack of sleep on my part?)

    Aren’t films bad for a first date? 90 minutes of not talking to each other? I thought that was what marriage was all about 🙂

  • Funny enough, Erin fell asleep watching a movie on our 1,543rd date too. Granted, it was on my couch instead of in a movie theater, but…Coincidence? I think not.

    Temple, the movie is for when you’ve run out of standard first-date exposition. That way, when the movie’s over, you have something else to talk about. Unfortunately in our case that happened to be Graham Chapman’s penis, but it’s a start.

  • Desmond

    I dated two girls in high school, both later (many years later) confessed to their coming out in their 20’s.

    Okay, so I dated 2 lesbians in high school, was so rejected, it took me 20 years to get over it… and only then did I discover (thanks to the high school reunion memory book) that both dates didn’t like boys to begin with… I though it was me… now I’m too fat and ugly to get a date, an emotional basket case… I guess I never got over it. Crap… well off to the whore house….

  • I’ve been trying for almost four hours to come up with a witty rejoinder to Desmond’s comment.

    I got nothin’.

  • How about this MJW:

    Desmond, was that the only time you were hit on while wearing flannel?

  • Four hours I work for something funny and come up blank. Then Sussman makes it work in two minutes.

    I hereby resign my commission as Rapier Wit.

  • For every witty thing Suss has to say, about a million other things fall upon stone-faced audience.

    Usually me.

  • Well, sure. You’re his fiancee. It’s your job to crush his ego. The rest of us are obligated to laugh.

  • Desmond

    Name your tartan!

  • My first kiss was a lie — I didn’t for real until I went off to college. But of course, I intimated, hinted and outside prevaricated that I had already managed it while I was in high school.

  • I was that way with sex, DrPat. Everyone just assumed that since I was a sorority girl and partied that I was probably a whore. Truth of the matter was, up until Mr. Sussmman came along, I was the token chapter virgin.

  • High five? Anyone?

  • godoggo

    Somebody turned off the lights and bang.

    “In darkness there is no sin/ light only brings the fear”

    Free imaginary money if you recognize the song (hint: punk rock, sort of). Pro critics exempt.

  • Michael J West… your descriptor of that train kiss…

    >>She breathed in.

    “Wow,” she said. “…Wow.”

    And we kissed again.<<... ...mmmmm made me think Wow! Fun post.

  • Jewels,

    Thanks…and, are you coming on to me? 😉

    The budding relationship ended a scant month after that first kiss, by the way. So it may not have been as great as it seemed at the time.

    Fortunately, the woman I shared my next first kiss with will also be the one with whom I share my last.

  • Suss, I really wanna give you that high five, but I’ve been in this situation before and I know how it works:

    Sussman: High five? Anyone?

    MJW: *returns the high five* Hell yeah, dude! Right on!

    Chelsea Lou: *Punches MJW in the arm* Jerk!

    So, you see, my poor arms force me to leave you hanging.

  • Yeah, gee, guys — get a room already!


  • liz wilson

    i am a 13 year old girl and i have
    not even had my first kiss yet.
    but today i saw one of my good friends make out with one of the guys i realy like. i am sooooo up set!!

  • Some15yroldpunk

    I think Kissing should be… illegal! Banned from civilization FOREVER! Really people… c’mon now. Why make things more awkward then they have to be?

  • Tom

    Hi my name is Tom and i am 13 years old (boy). i too have been kind of anxious to have my first kiss, but still when i think about it i get kinda nervous. this has help too so thanx. i would rather go for the 1 slow kiss in the rain kinda thing, it seems better. well i have had a girlfreind before and we have not kissed, but it is over now… im over it. and i dont think kissing should be banned because it shows your love and affection for the other person, and for some, it is a joy in life to kiss the person you like or love. so… ya. thanx for the info and… ya.

  • Cam

    I actually had my first kiss in the rain, it was quick, awkward and wet.
    not like anything i expected.