I should have never kissed #1. I should have fought when she pushed me down in the front yard of my best friend’s house. We were playing a game, I think. The only premise I remember was to “catch someone,” and if you caught them you kissed them. I should have sensed the future. Instead I am pinned down as it happens for the first time.
I should have never kissed #2 or #3. Both were blonde haired cheerleaders and kissing them, at their separate points in my life, was the best thing I had done, or could imagine myself ever doing. Which is the problem with all this, that I would believe there can be nothing better in life than a kiss.
I should have never kissed #4, my only kiss in college. We had one night and because I was so sheltered our sloppy kisses pushed me to God. Then for almost five years I kept my lips to myself. Those years I would call the dumbest and smartest, most beautiful and awful, years in my life.
I should have never kissed #5. She was the first after my celibacy. I wanted to kiss again. But I shouldn’t have been with her in Alabama and I shouldn’t have believed, just by how it seemed our lips matched, that we would be married and in love forever. What a senseless dope kissing can make you.
I should have never kissed #6 when I got back. Her bottom, even now, is one I could never hope to be near again. So it would seem kissing can bring you near something perfect, but it knows no obligation to keep you there.
I should have never kissed #7 next. I had just moved to a new city and right away she liked me. But I should have waited. I should have seen #8 on her way.
I should have never kissed #8. Or maybe #8 is the only one I should have kissed. But how can I say that, I was kissing others. Which might be the biggest kissing mistake of my life, to know that I would ruin the best thing I could have, just to have more stupid kisses.
I should have never kissed #9. She worked with #8 and I know they talked about how they had been kissing the same man at almost the same time. How strange is it, even when we know we are not the only one kissing someone, we won’t stop. We instead fight to be the only one.
I should have never kissed the rest I kissed in that city. I should have never kissed #10 with her great and wide bottom. I should have never kissed #11 with her lovely black stockings. I should have never kissed #12 with her soft mouth. I should have never kissed #13 with her loud wails. I should have never kissed #14 with her butterfly tattoo. I should have never kissed #15 with her hippy eyes. I should have never kissed #16 with her black dreads. I should have never kissed #16 with her heartbreaking accent. I should have never kissed #17 with her small breasts. I should have never kissed anyone in that city after #8. Each one of them I only kissed to help me forget that I would never again kiss #8 again. And with each kiss, I felt less and less.
I should have never kissed #18, the Francophile with a disastrous bottom. She was the first I met online dating, but I didn’t know what online dating was. I didn’t have a clue. I thought #18 would come over and we would kiss and if we liked it we would do it again the very next day. For the first time, kissing began to seem like a mirage of water rather than a deep well.
I should have never kissed #19. I knew from the very start there would come a day when I would not want to kiss her. I saw the train, but I put my face and body in front of it, hoping somehow she and I, when together, could send it another way. Kissing can make you believe you are a god.
I should have never kissed #20, the cross-country runner. It was only days after #19 and I should have had patience. I should have been strong enough to turn down at least one kiss.
I should have never kissed #21, the opera singer. I should have known by the way she wanted to slap my face that I would never be happy kissing her.
I should have never kissed #22. Of everyone I’ve kissed, I should have never kissed her. I should have never kissed her. I should have never kissed her. Maybe, if I write it over and over, I can reverse the earth. I go back to that moment in my car. It is cold outside and she puts her hands under her bottom to warm herself. She wears a coat and black tights and a scarf and her dark hair seems to be filling every space. I look over and say “I’ve wanted to do this all night,” and she says, “What, kiss…” and I kiss her. Even though I have gone back in time to stop this, I still do it. But this is what hounds my existence, that I cannot change what I am.
I should have never kissed everyone after that. It’s like after #8 in the other city, but with a greater sense of doom. Maybe they sensed it when we kissed, the taste of someone else. I should have never kissed #23 or #24 or #25 or #26 or #27 or #28 or #29 or #30 or #31 or #32 or #33 or #34 or #35 or #36 or #37 or #38 or #39 or #40 or #41 or #42 or #43 or #44 or #45 or #46 or #47 or #48 or #49 or #50 or any of the others.
Because now I only remember numbers, years of not breathing, suffocating my brain.