When I finally kissed a girl

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So the wife often bemoans (or, perhaps, celebrates in a bemoaning tone) the fact that I’m willing to share pretty much everything, sans embarrassment, in this space. And, indeed, it’s weird. With rare exception, there’s not much about my life that I worry about divulging.

For example, how about this: I didn’t kiss a girl until I was a 21-year-old college senior.

That’s 100-percent true, and 100-percent mortifying. I’m not even sure how to explain it, save for these little points:

• I was a gawky, unattractive, zero-confidence teen with non-game.

• I was fairly late when it came to even thinking about sexual stuff.

• Girls made me nervous.

• I was distracted by other things.

• I rarely drank (I’m allergic to beer) and never smoked pot.*

Mostly, I think I was scared. Scared to ask girls out. Scared to approach. Mostly, scared to kiss. Like, how would it work? Was kissing an obvious thing? You pucker up, I pucker up and we meet? Or was there more to it? Good v. bad? High quality v. low quality? Tongue placement and breath strategy? I didn’t know, but as I aged the whole thing started to gnaw at my soul. Specifically, I recall driving to Urbana, Illinois with my father in the summer of 1992, crying, asking, “What the fuck is wrong with me?”

Pop had no answer.

Looking back, it’s absolutely crazy that I went three full years of college (and not just any college. The University of Delaware, where females outnumbered males by quite a bit, and parties happened a-l-l the time) without kissing a girl. There were opportunities, too. I worked as an RA as a sophomore, and I asked this other RA out, and we had dinner twice, and looking back she was cute and bubbly and clearly sending me every type of signal, but I had no radar and no game and just stumbled around and … um … well, nothing. Sigh. Just nothing. She gave up on me.

So I continued—no kissing, no kissing. Sad, alone. Didn’t tell anyone, because, well, I was 18, 19, 20, 21, and it was mortifying.

And then!

It was the first week of my senior year. I reported early, because I was editor of the student newspaper. All the different groups and athletic teams came to campus before the other students. There was a girl I knew. We were good friends. I went to her apartment one night to hang out. Breaking the Prairie View A&M-esque futility streak was not on my mind. I generally didn’t drink. But we drank. And drank. And drank. I 100-percent remember what it was: Peach schnapps. Way stronger than the occasional Bartles and Jaymes wine cooler I’d sip from in high school. I drank more. And more. And more.

Suddenly, we were hooking up!


And a real person of the opposite sex!


By “hooking up,” I mean innocent making out. Which wasn’t “merely” anything to 21-year-old me, eternally wondering whether I was going to die a 90-year-old non-kissing Jewish priest impersonator. I vividly recall waking up a few hours after the hook-up, still in her apartment, still tasting peach on my tongue, momentarily wondering whether I’d dreamed what seemed so real. Nope, not a dream.

With my friend sleeping, I collected my stuff, and took my first quasi-walk of shame back to my apartment.

Only there was no shame to be found.

Merely great relief.

* Yes, I’m allergic to beer. Learned this awful fact as a college freshman, when—at a party for the Delaware cross country team—I took two sips and vomited. Happened again shortly thereafter. Life changer. Thank goodness for Zima.