The other night I went on a date. I was following my own advice about getting back to dating basics, and thought it would be a good idea to invite my date to a live taping of a game show that I was offered tickets to. Perfect. A date where we could just have some good, clean fun. Three minutes in the door and the woman checking us in, who I should mention had a raging herpes outbreak on her lip, asked: “Are you a couple?”
My date and I looked at each other. I waited for him to speak first. He waited for me.
“No,” I said, finally.
He chimed in, a bit nervously, “This is our first date.”
The woman licked her blister. “We are looking for couples to kiss in the audience for a bit we’re doing. Would you be interested?”
“Yes,” I chirped, “We’ll do it.”
It’s not that I was trying to put him in an uncomfortable situation. And trust me, watching a woman lick her giant festering cold sore, didn’t exactly make me want to kiss anyone. But I have a habit, when faced with a yes or no question, of answering yes out of instinct.
My date looked pleased enough with my answer.
“Sure,” he added. “We’re in.”
And so there we were. Five minutes into our first date, knowing that we were going to have our first kiss on cue, filmed and televised.I had never felt more awkward about a first kiss than I had in my entire life. More awkward than I did when I had my first first kiss when I was 13. J kissed me backstage during a production of “West Side Story.” I was in full costume as one of the Sharks, wearing a frouffy purple dress, a thick layer of pancake base and bright red lipstick, which smeared all over J’s face. Someone walked in on us and started “woo-ing.”
The nature of first kisses is that they are meant to be awkward. But that weirdness usually comes from the element of the unknown. The spontaneity of that all. You know that at some point you and you date are going to stop talking and gaze at each other. Someone will inevitably cock her head to the left. He will go right. Both will go in, and lips will collide. And then it will either be fantastical or meh or somewhere in between. But you take comfort in the fact that you and your date will be able decide when and where to lock lips.
That choice had been taken away from us. And ironically, it was making me more anxious. I didn’t know if this would turn out to be a good or a bad thing. My date and I sat in the uncomfortable, plastic seats that Herpes Lady led us to. I went to sit on the inside.
“Wait,” my date said. “I need to sit in that seat.”
“Why?” I asked. “An anxiety thing?”
“No,” he explained. “I can only kiss left, not right.”
I had never thought about kissing directions. He was taking this really seriously. Maybe I had made a mistake. My cheeks started to get hot.
“I don’t know if I can go through with this,” I stuttered, thinking how I would never be able to be a porn star.
Just then the host cut us off.
“When the applause sign flashes, all the couples on the right side of the stage will make out,” he instructed.
There was no turning back now.
The applause sign flashed. My date turned left, I turned right. And we did it. We kissed. On camera. For a live television audience. Amongst a sea of 10 other couples doing the same thing. And I must say, it was absolutely awesome.
I sat back in my seat, at ease with the knowledge that we had gotten our first kiss out of the way, that my date was a good kisser, that our moment would forever be immortalized on TV. I put my hand in his, and wondered when and where our second kiss would happen.