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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Is kissing overrated? Only sometimes...

In honor of Valentine's Day, I give you this story. It's not candy or flowers, but if you're still waiting for that one great kiss, this is a promise: it's coming.

In middle school, each time I kissed a boy I hoped I would swoon, just like a heroine in a romance novel who practically faints with passion the second the hero gently presses his lips to hers.

Not once did this happen to me. In fact, my first kisses had more in common with the strep tests I routinely had to endure at my pediatrician's office than they did with the love scenes I read in books.

First of all, there was no "gentle" involved. The boys I made out with during middle school seemed to have read an instruction manual in which the words "apply extreme force" were repeated multiple times. These boys should have been permitted to put their lips to a girl's only after informing her, "I promise, this will just hurt a little bit." What I remember about sixth, seventh and eighth grade parties was getting ready for them by applying lip gloss and recovering from them by wiping it off. Of my chin.

And then came J.

I'm only identifying J by the first letter of his first name because I'm pretty sure there are legal issues involved in revealing anything that would too clearly identify him, but if you ask me, he really ought to have a business card that says, "Want to learn to kiss? I can teach you."

J was older than I was (a junior? a senior? who remembers? who cares?) and the truth is, I have absolutely no idea how we came to spend an entire afternoon back during the Reagan administration making out in an empty classroom of our high school. Didn't I have play rehearsal? Didn't he have track? Didn't we both have homework? And how did we even know each other? There is not a single interaction with J in my memory bank that predates our hours spent in what was not a brothel but my honors English class, the room in which I spent innocent afternoons memorizing "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" and taking fantastically difficult tests on Edith Hamilton's Mythology.

And given my experience with kissing, wasn't it odd that I would have even wanted to meet a boy for a secret rendezvous? Surely I could have gotten just as much pleasure from a parentally approved trip to the orthodontist. But for whatever reason, I did meet J and there (no doubt beneath a poster of some RSC production of Hamlet), I kissed him.

The joke when I was in college was that sex is like pizza: When it's good, it's great, and when it's bad, it's still pretty good. Well let me tell you something: kissing is not like pizza. When it's bad, it's horrible, and when it's good, it's mind blowing. Kissing J after kissing so many terrible kissers was like discovering that all these years, you'd been watching television with the sound turned off. Suddenly, this incomprehensible, frustrating experience that everyone's been raving about makes sense. You're like, "Oh, Seinfeld really is funny."

J lifted the act of kissing to an art form. His kisses were just as swoony as the books had promised, and after we finished making out, my chin was as dry as it had been when we started. How we parted that afternoon, what happened between us the next day (were we even friends? were things awkward between us? did anyone find out what we'd done?) remains marvelously hazy. Only the blissful kisses are crystal clear.

I wish I could say that all of my kisses after J were earth shattering, but unfortunately there were a few chin lickers here and there. I didn't mind, however. Having been to the mountain top, I knew the real deal when I found it.

Happy, happy Valentine's Day. Here's to flowers, chocolate and (most important!) seriously swoony kisses.



To read the first chapter of The Darlings in Love (a book in which everyone gets at least one good kiss), click here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone ever tell you that you are a great writer!? I love this piece. You are the tops! rxx

February 14, 2012 at 3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just have to say that as a survivor of a few slightly injurous kisses myself, I absolutely LOVE this post! Here's to high-volume kisses forever (and to knowing the difference!)

February 15, 2012 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Em&Ali said...

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE WRITE ANOTHER BOOKS ABOUT THE DARLINGS!!! HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW IF COLIN AND NATALYA EVER STAY TOGETHER? P.S I (tried) to read your book If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Wheres my Prince, but I sorda kinda got lost. Keep On Writing

April 6, 2012 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Too funny! Chin lickers. I can't even deal! You are trully a great author.

April 12, 2012 at 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there going to be a third book in the darling series

March 27, 2013 at 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Your book the Darlings in Love You left me in a hole there, I always thought that Simon was still gay but I also thought that Jane and Mark would get together. Will Natalya and Colin ever work things out, I TO KNOW!!!!!!!!!!! YOU REALLY NEED TO WRITE A THIRD BOOK, THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME.

March 27, 2013 at 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


March 27, 2013 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger anna genda said...

I agree. Please make a third book. As a teenager, you are one of the only authors whose name I actually remember. I keep going to the library waiting on that third book and it's never there!

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