Last Monday evening, my friend January and I joined my buddy Ryan and two of his buddies at a local Mexican restaurant in honor of Cinco de Mayo. Ryan has recently relocated back to Little Rock from Los Angeles, so the gathering was also in honor of his return. When presenting Ryan with 20 questions surrounding his return, I asked if he was working yet. This question reminded me of Ryan knowing my boss. Ryan noted “Small world,” while further stating, “his wife walked in on my first kiss. I was twelve years old and already terrified and then I get busted.” Ryan dove further into the story, noting another person, John, who was ironically my first kiss. I said, “No way!! John was my first kiss! I was eleven, nearly twelve!” Most of us found the story quite comical, however, one of Ryan’s friends was taken aback, “Eleven? Twelve? Who is kissing at eleven and twelve!?” I bit my tongue while January chimed in, “seems like a pretty normal age. I was 14.” Ryan’s other less appalled friend chimed in with, “Well I am 25 and I have a ten year old so I’ll let you deduct accordingly.” Priceless. I was disgusted by the very obvious disgust the one friend showed over adolescent kisses.
I recall my first kiss in vivid detail and I remember fondly. John and I had joined another couple at the theater to “watch” a movie, “The Adams Family.” I could point out where we sat. I was nervous, though anxious. He was nervous and anxious. I could not tell you one detail about the movie but I recall every detail of the kiss. It was innocent. I had met John at a church function weeks before and we continued to talk on the phone for hours and hours. We “dated” two months, a lifetime for twelve year olds. I don’t feel the slightest bit “fast” for kissing a boy at that age, in fact, I find it quite normal. My second kiss at age 13 was far sweeter. The desire to kiss him outweighed the desire to know what a kiss was like. He and I later dated as adults and we continue to be friends to this day.
To test the theory of normalcy, I’ve polled friends, family, and co-workers which includes a multitude of ages and men and women. While the majority have noted their ages to be between 11 and 16 at the time of their first kiss, a handful have relayed a much younger age, while a handful noted a much older age. No matter, majority rules. Most of those polled immediately followed their response related to age with the name of the person they first kissed. Women always responded with, “I was 15. John Doe.” Men, on the other hand, would with give their age only or their age and the girls first name, “I was 13. Ashley.” The few women that didn’t offer a name without asking were able to recall both the first and last name, while most men were able to offer a first name only. Interesting.
For most, the first kiss was just a kiss. Nothing more, nothing less.
So, when did a kiss become so offensive, vulgar, concerning? I remember games which encouraged kissing, “Spin the Bottle,” “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” and “Truth or Dare.” As kids, we created scenarios enabling innocent experimentation. “Seven Minutes in Heaven” was similar to “Spin the Bottle,” in which two random people selected by chance, we’re to spend seven minutes in a closet. Note, there was always an entourage of teenage friends on the other side of the closet door. I’d say six minutes and thirty seconds of the seven minutes were spent swapping muffled whispers versus spit. There was certainly nothing romantic about a random kiss in a random closet, however, it was an opportunity to kiss a crush or an opportunity to satiate a curiosity. Still, as adults, my crew of friends has been known to partake in an occasional game of “Truth or Dare,” typically encouraged with alcoholic beverage consumption. While 99% of the people playing select “Truth,” the 1% that chose “Dare,” can be guaranteed a random kiss. “Truth” has replaced the “Dare.” As young teenagers, the majority would almost always select “Dare” and we all know why.