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.
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.