As a little girl, I used to love my Daddy’s kisses. He would come home from work and I would run towards him, fling myself into his arms and call out, “Take ‘er, Daddy!” He would scoop me up and plant one on me. I would laugh and then he’d put me down and give my mom a kiss. This went on for many years, until I was a teenager, I almost always would race up to my dad when he got home, give him a kiss and then go on my way. Even as a teenager and a young adult, I never failed to give both him and my mom a kiss goodnight. We were a very loving family.
Lots of people remember their first kiss. They treasure it along with the faded rose pressed between the old book on the shelf or tucked away in the corner of a “hope chest” in the attic. I’m not much of a sentimentalist. That’s not to say that I’m not emotional, or don’t carry memories in my mind, I do, it’s just that I don’t hold on to many physical mementoes and I don’t remember my first kiss.
Perhaps it’s because my first kiss wasn’t very memorable to begin with, or maybe because the person who gave it to me didn’t rank very high on my scale of desirability. More than likely, it’s because I soon afterward sent him packing – not for the kiss, but because I just felt hemmed in.
At the age of 15 I had my first date and although it was exciting to experience, I don’t remember being too keen to have a second one, at least not with that particular fellow.
I tended to hanker after the boys I could never have, thus rendering me safe to have my fantasies, but not ever to have to act upon them. It was a good method, especially for a Catholic girl who wasn’t supposed to get physical with boys in the first place. Of course, eventually some boys came along with whom I wanted to spend more time and eventually I quite enjoyed kissing. In fact, I would say that along the way I became quite expert at kissing. I grew to like it – a whole lot!
On the other hand, I was kissed by quite a number of boys who I never wanted to kiss again. If the kiss went badly, they were history! They probably never knew what had gone wrong and I sincerely apologize if I hurt their feelings, but let’s just say that if you had a moustache, or you shoved your tongue in my mouth, unbidden, or your lips were too dry, or too gooey, or your 5 o’clock shadow shaved the skin off my cheek, or you didn’t smell right – too flowery, or worse still, I tasted aftershave on your lips, then you’ve only yourself to blame.
I suppose I always gravitated to someone with a semblance of what my father had in terms of appearance and demeanour (although I would never have thought so at the time). My father was clean-shaven (and my mother and I made sure he stayed that way). Any suggestion of facial hair and my mother would harangue him until it came off.
If I was interested enough in someone to accept a date and that person did have facial hair, I either was just curious to see what it would be like to kiss them (not so good, as it turned out) or I had intentions of making them change it for me if I liked them enough. This rarely happened. The kiss with the hairy moustache usually resulted in the heave-ho.
Once, when I was quite a bit older, I was working in a school as a personal assistant to a blind student in Grade 9. I took a shine to his Science teacher, a fairly meek, reddish-haired, bespectacled and bearded man who was 11 years my senior. Every time he came around to give personal instruction to my charge, I would fairly gush over him – making huge gaffes in my speech and blushing beetroot red at the same time. I finally decided to take the bull by the horns and approach him. I believe I said something along the lines of “I’m quite nervous around you, you seem to like me, why don’ t we go out and see if we can overcome all this?” He was quite amenable to the idea and we went out for a nice Italian pasta dinner and to see a Japanese film.
I think what I liked about Mr. Science, was his intelligence. He had a not bad sense of humour and he was a perfect gentleman, but the age difference made me feel nervous because I really felt this guy was ready to take the big leap, if you know what I mean and I definitely wasn’t thinking along those lines.
After a couple of dates (on one occasion I happened to mention that I didn’t like beards, by the way), I took him to my favourite dance bar, and he stuck out like a big ol’ sore thumb! My usual crowd were looking at me like I’d brought my dad along and I knew that there was no way this could go on.
When Mr. Science called a few days later, I told my parents to tell him I was sick with the flu and couldn’t even talk on the phone!
That night, I was in my room when the doorbell rang. I hung inside the doorway, listening while my dad answered (it was after dinner and rarely did someone just show up at our door). I could barely hear the conversation, but there was a definite exchange and then I did hear my dad say, “Oh, she’s sick with the flu – he could lie with the best of them when required – she’s in bed.” “Took one of those Nyquil things and went out like a light.” (My mom added from behind). Then I heard a voice say, “Oh, Well could you give these to her when she wakes up?” There was a rustling of paper and then the door was shut and the person was gone.
I heard my dad say something and then my mom came charging down hall to where I was cringing in my bedroom doorway. She had a huge bouquet of rosesin her arms.
She said, “You’re going to have to tell him you don’t want to see him anymore.” Then she started to laugh. I said, “What’s so funny?” She replied, “Well, I didn’t recognize him at first because he shaved off his beard.” I was stunned. I never thought he’d take it that far. I realized then that I’d made a narrow escape. This guy was SERIOUS!
I spent the better part of the rest of that school year, dodging Mr. Science by taking circuitous routes in and out of my blind-student’s high school. Eventually, he gave up on the experiment. He grew back the beard and everything was forgotten. We never did kiss.
When I was in a high school, a fairly decent looking guy I knew suggested we get together to “do homework”. I was game and invited him over to my house one evening. As I recall, he said he needed my help on an English essay, I didn’t suspect anything and, as I say, he was cute enough, so I went along with it.
Well, P came over and we did do a bit of homework, but he wasn’t really paying attention for some reason. I was right into the essay – would have got a good mark if it had been my own.
When it came time to leave, P was sitting on our landing at the top of the stairs to put on his shoes (my parents were in the family room downstairs watching t.v.). I sat down beside P, in a friendly sort of way – like you do, when suddenly he grabbed me, and pressed his lips against mine. It was only seconds before he was sticking his thick, sea-urchin-like tongue into my mouth. It actually made me gag! I pulled away and stared at him like he’d just walked in off the street. I’m pretty sure I said, “I think you should go home now.” (or something to that effect).
I even told my mother what had happened because quite frankly, I was disgusted! Fortunately, P wasn’t in my grade at school, he was a year junior to mine. It was easy to steer clear of him and that I did. He eventually got married to someone I always considered rather snotty and I often thought about how she would most likely spend the rest of her life kissing a mouth with a big, thick, prickly tongue. Better her than me!
Then there were they guys of whom you just could not get enough. Their kisses were the perfect combination of texture, pressure, intensity and taste. When your lips came together it was soft and tender at first and then deeper and fervent and finally, one of you would find a crevice between the top and bottom teeth and you would explore each other’s mouths like you were savouring a bowl of jell-o with Cool Whip on top. It was heavenly!
When you first saw each other, you watched each other’s lips move as you spoke, watched the corners of the mouth rise and fall, the teeth flash when they smiled. You conversed, but all you could think about was when you would come face to face and your two lips would meet. It drove you to distraction!
Sometimes, you would wait for that second meeting, but sometimes that was just impossible! You would be talking about some insignificant thing and one of you would move in a bit closer and then it would happen; your lips would touch and that would be it. The rest of the night you would spend in a back booth of kissing until your lips were chapped.
I was pretty forward for a Catholic girl. If I felt the molecular charge (and for me that was quite rare), I would act upon it, either by stating my feelings or by touching the person’s face. I was not afraid.
When I met my husband, back in 1993, it was a “blind” date of sorts because we met through a telephone dating service. It was de rigueur to meet in this way. There was no internet dating, no “e-Harmony” or “Tinder”.
Our first date was spent in an open restaurant in the middle of a mall. To say we got on “like a house on fire” would be an understatement. Every joke he told made me genuinely laugh; every thing I said, held his interest. We had many things in common, our upbringings, though at opposite ends of the city were very much the same and our cultural references, identical. We connected in a big way.
I felt an immediate trust in this new man I had only just met. I threw caution to the wind and even accepted an invitation to sit in his car and listen to his new “Waterboys” cd. (How bad could he be, if he liked them?)
True to my instincts, he was the perfect gentleman and we had great fun enjoying the music and getting to know one another. I came away from the date thinking, “I like this man. I’m not going to get carried away, but I DO like him and he’s a really nice guy.”
Strange things happen to you when you really have an attraction to someone. In their absence, they seem to be always at the back of your mind, your curiosity perpetually musing over unanswered questions: What does he eat for breakfast? Where does he go for fun? Does he like “The Cure”? What would he be doing right now?
The true test for me as to whether I really was in to someone was if I could see their face when they were gone. If I could envision them, detail by detail and feature by feature, they were in serious jeopardy. If their face became a blur, they were in for the long run. K had turned into The Invisible Man.
When we finally got together for a second date, we went to the movies to see Woody Allen’s latest, Manhattan Murder Mystery. It was a laugh and we both enjoyed it. I don’t remember whether or not we held hands or he put his arm around me.
On the way back to my house, I suggested we stop off at my favourite little Irish pub. When he parked in the parallel spot in front, we sat in the bucket seats of his white Toyota and listened to my current favourite classical piece at that time (I’d heard it on a skating competition), the Meditation from Thaïs by Jules Massenet, performed by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. I was always very moved by this piece and this time was no exception. I felt an exhilaration and my emotion was infectious for he was feeling the same way. Again, I decided to do something risky. Thinking of how date-night typically ends with that awkward moment where you have the first kiss, I said, “Let’s just get this kiss out of the way, so we can enjoy ourselves.” He was game. He moved in and I leaned over. Our lips brushed, lightly at first and then more insistently. It was just right. All the elements came together in perfect harmony. Who could have known that this was to be the first kiss with the only man I would ever kiss again in that same way?
Sorry, Mr. Science. It’s all about the right chemistry, don’t you know?