My Imperfect First Kiss
Wasn’t I supposed to be swept off my feet?
The man of my dreams leaned over, looked me in the eyes, and gently placed his hand on my chin. At 19, I was finally about to experience my first kiss.
Then, I put my head down.
I could sense nothing but the violent beating of my heart. Well, except nausea, prompted by my churning stomach. Unfortunately, “There Will be Blood” didn’t offer much relief.
We fled before the movie ended. Later, he courageously attempted to kiss me again. This time he succeeded, with a gentle lip lock.
It lasted a nanosecond.
Was that it? Wasn’t my first kiss supposed to sweep me off my feet, like in the movies?
“Hollywood long ago perfected how a kiss should look, and it’s been stuck in the rut of its perfection ever since,” wrote Eric Lundegaard in a column for MSNBC. “Woman’s arms around man’s neck, man’s arms around woman’s waist, man 4 to 8 inches taller than woman. It’s even called ‘the Hollywood kiss,’ and it’s almost always the same.”
My first kiss had been delayed by my endless hours of practicing and performing as an adolescent. I’d wanted to become a ballet dancer.
Only when I hung up my ballet shoes and enrolled in New York University did I even think of having a boyfriend. Most of my friends had, by then, already conquered their first kiss.
I met him while we were both working at Abercrombie & Fitch. He reminded me of Seth Cohen, the geeky yet very attractive character portrayed by Adam Brody on the popular teenage sitcom “The OC.” I fantasized about being Seth Cohen’s girlfriend, so of course I took an immediate liking to my colleague.
He was my first date, and three weeks into our relationship, I remained shy and awkward, like Drew Barrymore’s character in the 1999 romantic comedy. Even a text message from him made me giddy.
As things became more romantic, I obsessed over the prospect of our first kiss. The image of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic fueled my imagination, making me think the kiss would be both effortless and a true test of chemistry. But, would I know what to do? What if I was a bad kisser? These questions rattled my brain as I tossed, sleepless, in my freshman dorm.
My roommate found my situation hysterically funny. She’d grill me after our dates:
“Did he finally kiss you?”
“What was it like?”
“Was it everything you expected?”
I could only stare back at her blankly. As she grew more frustrated, I grew more anxious and insecure.
Only after the movie theater mishap, in which I channeled Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries more than Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind, did I realize it was all the fault of movie fantasy. I was investing too much power in that first kiss.
Now that I’m experienced, I know: A first kiss is no indicator of how a relationship will work out. Kissing, like anything you practice, gets better with time. As a relationship develops, the chances of having that movie-esque kiss can only increase.
And my boyfriend and I are still together, even though he recently moved across the country. We’re maintaining a strong, long-distance relationship. I can already envision our first reunion at the airport.
Maybe I’ll get a second chance at that perfect first kiss after all.