I don't remember my first kiss. OK, I take that back. I remember my first kiss in kindergarten. It was on the mouth, and it involved tongue.
So I guess that makes it a first kiss. But we were in kindergarten! That he would be a guy I would have plenty of sexual experimentation with over the teen years just doesn't count. It's too ridiculous to chalk up a little tongue behind the tree when we were 5 (after watching an animated version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I might add) as my first kiss. If that's a first kiss, they're truly overrated.
And so are all the rest of them along the way. Because as I approach 30, it's just that kiss and the first one with my now husband that I can conjure up with any detail. The rest are a blur, a list I could make during a drunken girls' night confessional, I'm sure, but it would be names only, perhaps a general timeline.
My husband surely wasn't my first "real" kiss, but his is the only one I remember in detail. The way he picked me up, the magic of anticipation, the force both gentle and full of power. The scent of the Tommy Hilfiger cologne he wore at the time still clings to my nostrils, my chest swelling with the heat of the moment. It seems right -- this is the man I married 10 years ago, after all, the man who I have a child with, the man who I consider my soulmate.
Science begs to differ. According to Sheril Kirshenbaum, a researcher out of the University of Texas and author of The Science of Kissing, you're supposed to be able to recall 90 percent of the details of your first kiss, even more than you recall of the time when you lost your virginity. Sites like The Experience Project's "I Remember My First Kiss," loaded with sappy comments like "I leaned over and.......'BOOM'......sparks and fireworks, I loved it," lend credence to her theory.
The memory is particularly strong for women, Kirshenbaum claims, who tend to appreciate the act more, although they often get less satisfaction from it than they hoped. With phrases like "never been kissed" and songs devoted to that one moment in time, it's quite possible there's nothing that's built up to quite the romanticized level of the first kiss. It's the stuff of Judy Blume novels and practicing with your Bonne Bell Lipsmacker on your bedroom mirror. Women, Kirshenbaum says, "extricate the significance of a relationship based on a single kiss."
This is where the teen version of you and today's version separate. Once upon a time you used it as the marker of whether a relationship would survive. Now you have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. You know which guy lasted a week, which guy turned out to be a mama's boy, which guy was more in love with himself. And you've forgotten not just how he likes his coffee, but that "first kiss."
I'd contend if women are likely to be less than satisfied with our very first kiss, there's no reason it should earn an automatic spot on our list of most memorable moments. If it sucked, it should be shifted right off of there. It isn't the "first kiss" of our lives that should make the memory books but the first kiss of life-changing relationships.
Do you remember you first kiss?
Image via Jeanne Sager