It was three hours of conversation that led up to it, but it seemed like an eternity at the same time. I had put down my cold beer on his dresser and my hands began to fidget in the red light, staring out the window at the flowing trees. “I don’t know how this goes now…” I said nervously, but I didn’t need any more words anyway. His long hands found me and his lips soon caught mine in a kiss.
One hand was running through my hair, the other at my waist. I wrapped my arms around his neck and my back arched. We broke apart, his hands cupping my face just the way I like a guy to do after his lips are on mine.
“I’ve wanted to kiss you from the minute I saw you,” he whispered softly. “Standing at the microphone…”
The lights were fluorescent a few hours earlier as I took the mic at the Eagle Rock sandwich shop and began working through my material. I saw him in the back during my set: brown messy hair and beard, bright blue eyes, with a tall and lanky build.
He went up as well, but decided that comedy wasn’t his flavor; he preferred the beat of his drums. We stood outside for about an hour talking with another comic. Eventually the other comic left and this boy and I were left to ourselves. We walked towards my car, and as I arrived I asked, “Where’s your car?”
“Well, I took the bus,” he said. “But I’m going to be straightforward. I like you and I want to spend more time with you. So if you could give me a ride, I’d like to get you a drink.”
This is Los Angeles, land of indirectness and game playing, so I had never experienced anything this straightforward on these shores. So I took him up on it, and was led eventually led into the hills of Mt. Washington. And after much talking, beer drinking and laughter, I was ensnared in his lips, remembering what it was like to be possessed by kissing. It was truly a possession, and my stomach was on fire. I was left as a wide-eyed junkie, craving more.
The kiss is something that has been devalued in the hookup society. There are guys I know who refuse to kiss girls, even though they have sex with them. And to them, I say go back and practice your skills, because there is nothing more valuable. I am of the firm belief that the makeout is a lost artform; one that needs to be brought back for the sake of intimacy and humankind.
I’ve been kissing since the tender age of 14. The first one was with a boy named Jason at a Jewish youth group convention. The Eagles’ “Hotel California” was playing, I was looking pretty in my formal dress, and it was… slimy. I swore I would never kiss again. Somewhere G-d was laughing, because I’ve kissed a lot of boys since that point. (I have never kissed a girl, but I really never found a girl who I was attracted enough to kiss.)
I remember sitting with my friend with benefits at the age of 20, him moving my lips and spending hours teaching me to kiss properly as we hung out on his front porch with the dogs. As the years went on, I experienced many different sets of lips. All of them were different, from plump, pillowy lips to those that I had to coax to kiss correctly. Each one had its own flavor, and it was fascinating.
When life with my ex set it, kissing either turned into quick pecks or soul-sucking monstrosities. I remember feeling teeth against my cheek and more aggression than actual affection. At one point when things were really bad, our relationship counselor told us to build up intimacy by making out regularly. I was excited by this prospect and completely down for more kissing. Like the prospect of sex though, he shrugged it off.
My last birthday we were together, I got very drunk and proceeded to make out with him at the bar where we were celebrating, my long purple dress enveloping us both. Even thought I was inebriated, my body could still feel the reluctance in those kisses. I could feel him pulling away, but he couldn’t refuse because we were in a bar of all our friends and appearances mattered more to him than affections. To be with someone who couldn’t enjoy the simple pleasure of kissing… it was a matter of time before the destruction set in.
When the breakup set in, I was reintroduced to the kiss. Standing in the parking lot after my first “date” with a guy, and having him so close to me, his body present and standing in parallel with mine, I felt the energy flit in my stomach. And when his lips reached mine, I found myself in a state of shock and excitement. What had I been missing all this time? It was like music of the mouth, sensation and expression without a single word. It didn’t matter what happened later (which was he proposed marriage to me after two dates and I said no), but for that moment, I rediscovered the perfection that is the kiss.
There were a lot of frogs kissed since that day. Some boys were sweet and asked if they could kiss me (and for that, I thought, “For asking, you can have two.”) Some tried to be romantic and jar their way into my mouth when I didn’t want them there. There were horrible kissers who licked me so much that dogs would be standing in applause if they could manage it. And then there were those who were good, but got distracted by the other options that were available, such as the possibility of sex. The kiss got lost.
Yet after probably hundreds of kisses in my life, I never get sick of them. I sense more because of them and feel more elation in them than any sexual encounter could make me experience. I joke when I tell people that I never know if a guy is into me until his lips are on mine, but it’s true. As a writer, I am well aware that words can lie; bodies can’t. The body is just as important to read, because often you can find things that you need to find in its motions when the words fail. It starts when the voice ends and movement and sensation begins. And we all need to relearn this language — even myself.
As I kissed my open mic boy goodbye, him possessing me one more time with his mouth, I wondered if I would ever see him again. I’ve lived in this city long enough to know the answer was probably not; there are so many distractions and other lips in this town that most people refuse to settle on just one pair. But as I journeyed back out into the night, the scent of him on my body, I reflected on what my comedy teacher said: To paraphrase her, comedy certainly gets you some action.