First Kisses (A Selected List)

I kissed Meg on a mountain in Pasadena. Right after she yelled at me to take only pictures, leave only footprints. It was our first date and kissing seemed wiser than pushing her over the mountain’s craggy edge. Really, I could have gone either way. When I pulled back she was staring at me, like I’d done something edgy/bold, dragged a razor over my forearm maybe, or swallowed a Tylenol dry.

Jean and I kissed leaning against her car. Then I told her I loved her because that’s what you do when you’ve been friends for a year and no one’s made a move.

“So that’s what’s going on,” my mother said, when I explained Jean and I were dating. “Whenever she stopped by there was all this weird energy but I couldn’t put my finger on what was happening.”

“I put my finger on it,” I didn’t say.

I kissed Mac after five hours. Our second date, and she’d spent it chugging wine from a yellow plastic drinking glass while we sat on her garbage-strewn floor watching Sarah Silverman’s Jesus is Magic. I was attracted to Mac, which is the only reason I’d left my house at midnight to meet her at some club she thought would be open but wasn’t so we’d ended up back at her place. Her hands shook as she drank; nerves maybe, or advanced alcoholism. After I kissed her, she said, “I’ve never made out with someone who wasn’t drunk. How do people do this?”

Kim wouldn’t kiss me. Not until after we sat through You’ve Got Mail.

Anne kissed me behind the closed door of her bedroom. She lived with her parents, which was fine because she was twenty. I was twenty-seven and about three heads taller. When she tipped her head back she reminded me of Scarlett O’Hara which made me Clark Gable, all swarthy and large-palmed. I thought things might be better lying down, but in bed it got worse: I was a mountain range, Anne a tiny mountaineer (albeit skilled). Our physical discrepancies didn’t bother her, but I’d rather have sex with someone I hate than feel fat.

Jill kissed me after I dared her.

“Aren’t you going to kiss me?” I asked, hours into our first date.

“I’m nervous,” she said.

“You are?” I smiled because her anxiety made me powerful.

“Take that look off your face,” she said and crossed the room.

I kissed Jamie the day after my girlfriend broke up with me. It didn’t really help.

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