1. The Good-Bye or Maybe Not Kiss
I perched my elbows on the passenger side window sill. The height of his white pick-up truck put me on slight tip-toe. The massive (and massively cheap) MegaBus back to New York leaned against the curb to my right. Dozens of waiting passengers sprawled out behind me. I smiled at him. What to say? Thanks so much for the orgasms, see you later or maybe never? Never mind the tension, never mind the uncertainty that comes from seeing an ex I once thought I loved. He looked gorgeous, as always, with deep wrinkles and thick hair. Words, thank god, weren’t needed. He leaned across both bucket seats, pushed calloused fingers through my loose hair, and pulled my head closer, lengthening my tip-toe. He made the familiar dive into my mouth with his tongue, aggressive and sure. One of my sandaled feet inadvertently kicked up, old-Hollywood style. I drank in his smoky scent for what maybe, maybe, would be the last time. As he drove away I turned, blushing and beaming, to join the ranks of the waiting.
2. The Transatlantic Kiss
The British boy on Mulberry Street was a proper gentleman, as you would expect. After lychee martinis and a bucket of mussels, he walked me to my subway stop: the ultimate gesture of chivalry in this heat-seeking town. Guiding me to the Q at Canal, he linked my arm before warming his hand in the pocket of his Paddington peacoat. We discussed Obama’s economic policies, our words misting in the December air. Did he lean in? Did I? Somehow our blushing pilgrims pressed together. His tongue took a calm expedition through my mouth while four lanes of taxis rumbled and whizzed. He did not linger. He did not press me to come back to his. He simply stepped back with a smile and confirmed our next proper date — the Natural History Museum on Sunday, for the Creatures of Light exhibit. I descended the concrete steps with the easy lightness of a proper lady.
3. The Sadie Hawkins Kiss
The first words out of his mouth were “Oh wow, you’re beautiful.” I figured he was in the bag. We went to my old work, the comedy club, and drank far too much. I pulled all the classic girl moves: staring at him until he caught me, then glancing away with a shy smile. Touching his arms and chest at opportune moments, and lingering. Glancing down while he’s talking and staring all hungry-like at his lips for 2, 3 heavy seconds. I felt sure the heat was radiating off me. But before I knew it we were sharing a cab back to the East Village, my lips going dry. Why hadn’t he kissed me yet? We can’t kiss when the cab stops in front of my place on 1st avenue, the meter ticking up, horns blasting behind us. But how will I know if I like him without a kiss? How will I know if there’s any heat, any reason for a second date? I watched 23rd street come and go and thought, fuck it. I sprang over and planted one on him, mid-sentence. His eyes popped while I pressed mine shut. Kissing him was like eating a grape: it’s all smooth and hard and lovely, then you chomp in and it explodes, all messy and juicy and surprisingly refreshing. By the time we passed 14th street, I’d decided there would be a date two.
4. The Beginning Kiss
Before you really know someone — when he’s just a stellar list of stats with a kinetic energy that yanks at your insides — you’re on ripe ground for the world’s best kisses. He had served in the Navy, was headed to Harvard, had a great relationship with his mom. We ate dim sum and at a posh restaurant in midtown for lunch on a rainy Wednesday. The booths looked and felt like crystalized cotton candy, pink and round and stiff. We pressed as much of our bodies together as we could without being asked to leave. I had visions of our future Golden Retriever running around our future lawn while our future children laughed and played. I ignored my blackberry, possibly forgot its existence for a while as I dove into his endless warmth. Two tiny chocolate squares came with the check; he popped one in his mouth then pulled me in to share it. It melted between our lips while I took mental notes for our grandchildren.
5. The Oh My God This is Kissing??? Kiss
The sugar cookies his mom baked were still in my braces when he leaned in. I’d met him at a punk rock show at a community center two weeks prior, drawn in by his black nail polish and mischievous brown eyes. His mom had left us alone in his bedroom, the door a foot ajar. He closed the lights and put some teen flick in the VCR, which he promptly ignored. Looking back, he had a warm and playful confidence that I’m not sure I’ve seen since, untouched as he was by the future heartaches, caused and endured. First, the arm around my shoulder: a closeness I had come to crave after our previous hand-holding and giggle-filled hugging. He stared at me, smiling, until I looked away from the screen and met his gaze. He put a timid hand on my cheek and drew me to him, his soft lips warm and gentle. I was shocked in the best possible way when his tongue, with its wet warmth, gingerly explored my mouth. His hands stayed politely on my face and in my hair. The crumbly sweetness of sugar cookies still makes my insides stir a decade and a half later.