The message was clear when my eyes met his. It was happening. Today. It seemed like such an established event, I felt it was almost appropriate to put it on my calendar with a date, time, and location.
I hadn’t seen him since our eighth grade graduation. A short boy with a mop of curly, black hair awkwardly placed on his head. The most vivid memory I have of him is when we were in the sixth grade. We were on our outdoor education trip and, for no reason at all, he rammed me into the small creek we were exploring. Now here he is, five years later, participating in the same web design internship I was so hesitant to apply to. I almost didn’t recognize him the first day we were in the office together. He looked different, taller, with sharper facial features. Puberty had been good to him, I thought. He definitely had better manners. But what surprised me the most was that, out of all the people I wanted to lay one on me, he made his way from being one of the last to one of the first.
I stole glances at him from behind the gigantic screen of my monitor, careful not to make eye contact a second time. That would look needy. But at the same time, all I wanted to do was look into those gorgeous brown eyes—like God had made his irises out of honey and added in small flecks of gold. He had those cute lips, the kind that male models often have to have photo-shopped on their faces, the kind most girls consider “kissable,” the kind I’m going to…
I was pulled out of my girlish daydream by a sharp chime coming from the main monitor. Five thirty. Oh God, this is it, this is real life, it’s happening. I quickly packed up my things, making sure I wasn’t leaving anything behind because there would be no time to come back.
I silently slipped away from the office and, half walking, half running, made my way to the furthest staircase, the only one that had a small platform with a single window that gave a peeking view of the neighboring building’s roof garden. And then I just stood there. Waiting. Anticipating. Worrying. What if I’m a horrible kisser? What do I do with my hands? Oh God, what if my hair gets in his mouth? Maybe I should put my hair in a ponytail. But ponytails aren’t sexy. Yeah, no, that’s a no-go on the ponytail.
I stood there for what seemed like hours, palms sweaty, heart pounding. Pounding way too fast, actually. I was almost sure my heart was thudding the number of beats per minute that indicates when a person is about to go into cardiac arrest. Come on, where was he? I checked my phone. 5:34 p.m.
“It’s only been four minutes,” I growled at myself, “get a grip.”
I waited another two. Maybe I had gotten the wrong message. Maybe this wasn’t going to happen today. Maybe this wasn’t going to happen at all. It could have been that he’d just glanced at me. I mean, we were friends. What if I’d just made a complete fool of myself?
I heard the gentle pah-dha, pah-dha of his sneakers getting progressively louder as he walked from the hallway into the corridor of the staircase. He smiled, those supermodel lips curving up, creating small dimples. He came up to me, totally confident, and just stared directly into my eyes. In that moment, I could have sworn that the walls just melted away. There was absolutely no sound and the world was spinning. He opened his mouth as if to ask me a question, closed it, slightly parted his lips again, and leaned in. That’s my cue, I thought, and we closed our eyes, those beautiful brown eyes disappearing in a black cloak of darkness.
His lips lightly leafed against mine, like two pieces of crisp paper trying not to crinkle. His mouth was dry and he kept twisting his head in such an exaggerated left and right motion I was scared his neck was going to break. Instead of meshing, our lips were pulling at the ends and chafing painfully. I thought maybe I was just leaning too far back, so I tried to lean forward and as I did his teeth kept clashing with mine as if they were the locked gates of a golden city I was forbidden to enter. Maybe this kiss was like a concert: you have to get through the opening act before you can enjoy the main event. So I waited, trying to mend the broken rhythm of our bodies with my arms around his neck, his arms by his side. And then it finally hit me: this was the main event. This is what I had waited in line for; a sold out show where we find that the only performer sounds better on a CD than he does live. As quickly as it had started, it was over. He stopped and I opened my eyes to see him smirking back at me.
“I hope that makes up for the shove in the river. See you around.”
With a quick wink, he walked away with the strut of a champion.
Um, wait, what? That was it? That was the big kiss that I had been anticipating since watching Titanic? Was this a joke? Please tell me this was a joke. Nope, he was gone. That was really it. Was that satisfying for him? Did he really believe that I was going to be impressed by the awkward clamoring of teeth or that horrible feeling of dry lips scraping against your own? Walking away, he gave the impression that he’d just given me the best possible first kiss a human being could possibly give to another. I felt a little embarrassed for him, that he could be so painfully wrong.
Some books give you all this descriptive detail about magical kisses: their tongues danced, his lips crashed onto hers, she heard fireworks going off in her head. All these beautiful, passionate scenes of these kisses that somehow have become this stereotypical and symbolic rite of passage into womanhood. Well, there was no tongue dancing. I don’t know how there were going to be crashing lips if there were hardly any lips to begin with. Like, they were only on his face for the purpose of decoration. There most definitely weren’t any sparks. I felt like I was burning in a forest fire when I was waiting by myself, in the moment leading up to the kiss. The kiss, if you can even call it one, was like a rainstorm that completely extinguished every single flame, not even leaving a tiny little ember that survived.