I’m good at kissing. I promise, I am.
That sentence is both true and the #1 least successful pick up line of all time. But good news: where we’re going, you don’t need pick up lines. Because while I am now a certified expert of the French art of le smooche, this was not always the case. Allow me to take you on a trip to the past. The sweaty, weird breath-ed, largely uncomfortable past. Join me:
Age 0-5: My twin sister and I went through a huge phase of kissing each other on the lips (gentlemen) (TRICKED YA, I was five, don’t you “gentlemen” anything, gentlemen) after being raised on Disney movies. There are a lot of pictures of us doing it, apparently actively cheered on by our parents and relatives. Cute, I guess. Years later we would be cast as Shrek and Fiona (GUESS WHO WAS SHREK) in our all-girls camp’s summer play version of 2001 Mike Myers vehicle Shrek… we hugged it out.
Age 5-10: Nothing exciting, kiss-wise. My mouth was largely occupied with accidental bugs and/or a long-suffering jawbreaker candy that I would lick and put back in a disgusting bag, then remove to lick again somewhere grosser. It was dropped on the floor a lot. I’m not sorry.
I should add that at one point during this period I had two “boyfriends” (Tommy had turned around one day in grade 4 and said “We can’t decide who should ask you out”), but neither of them got it together to even attempt a smooch. When one of them told everyone we kissed behind the slide, we “broke up.” The whole thing was very “air quotes.”
Age 11-13: The Golden Age of Truth or Dare. A lot of kissing happened in The Ditch, our school’s weird indented cement area near the fences at the back. Things were slimy, things were forced, things were built up for hours before and afterwards. The breath was bad, the environment weirdly dystopic: kids would countdown the seconds while your face was smushed up against someone else’s face, ingesting the remnants of warm lunchables from the barest beginnings of a puberty ‘stache. At parties, my best friend Miguel and I would get paired up for Seven Minutes in Heaven on purpose; we’d sit amongst the coats in the closet raving about the chip selection.
Age 14-16: Basically a barren wasteland of puckered lips meeting air. Most notably I confused being “interested in and nervous about sex and boys, generally” with being “full on in love with my friend Patrick, specifically.” It was awkward.
Age 17: A strong showing. Yep, I really sorted it out this year, kissing-wise. If you are a ginger-y teen weirdo who wants to get kissed, I have only one piece of advice: get thee to thine high school drama club. By starring in some school plays (#humblebrag) I was able to kiss on the mouth (#fumblebrag) not one but FOUR handsome, funny, talented… suuuuuuuper gay men. Like, the gayest. But hey, a smooch is a smooch, and some of those gents became friends for life.
Age 18-19: First year university, so.
Age 20-21: A real, big-time serious relationship. My first love. This involved a lot of fun kissing and learning how to kiss properly because hooo-weeee what was I doing before. There’s something wonderful about having the time and inclination to just kiss one person over and over—it’s good practice, for one thing, and it also lets you find a groove as couple. No more awkward teeth clattering against teeth for me. Goodbye to accidentally biting someone’s tongue, or finally working up the nerve to kiss someone, only to find out their kissing style can best be described as “rapid darting of the tongue in the general direction of the face, I don’t care where.” At least, not for these two years.