Compare your first kiss with your favorite characters first kiss?
Ok. So this topic is a little problematic for me because I often struggle with the accounts of first kisses in YA fiction. My main problem? They're over-romanticised.
Let me start by describing my first kiss; being fairly hopeless with men on a 'romantic' level when I was younger, I didn't have my first kiss until just after leaving school. By the time it actually happened any romantic notions I'd developed about it had all been blown out of the water. Eventually, I had my first kiss because I was so desperate to tick another box in the 'teenage experiences' list that I managed to get over my customary awkwardness around sexually appealing members of the opposite sex and just went for it. It happened in a dingy club, after a few too many shots* and with a man whose name I instantly forgot (which probably wouldn't have mattered anyway as it was so loud in the club he could have said anything from 'I'm Jim' to 'I'm Lord Vader, scourge of the Galaxy' and I wouldn't have known the difference) and whose face I cannot now recall. He was very attractive, thankfully, and my kiss was relatively brief but with it came a rush of understanding.
Now. My biggest problem with first kiss scenes in YA fiction is how they seem to be so... perfect. Here's an example from Evernight by Claudia Gray.
I kissed him, and my dreams told me the truth - I did know how to kiss Lucas ... The knowledge had been inside me all the time, waiting for the spark that would make it catch fire and come alive ... We kissed ... a thousand different ways. All of it was right. (p. 138)Always there's this idea of the first kiss being something profoundly 'right'. The stars align and everything is perfect. And of course this doesn't take into account that most of the time, it's two teenagers who have had little or no experience locking lips. Perhaps they don't know any better. Perhaps they truly believe for that one moment that this is as good as it gets. I somehow feel this is a bad message to send to teenagers; why build up their hopes when the reality can potentially be, if not disappointing, then just a bit... ordinary?
|"Damn it Edward, this is supposed to be the best moment of my life! |
Can't you try to look happier?"
"I'm trying, baby! But the sound of those fireworks going
off in my head is really distracting!" (Source)
I remember that going into my first kiss I wasn't expecting much; my friends had been playing it down to me for months, going on an on about what a let-down it was (to spare my feelings? Possibly, though in this case I think they were just being honest). So I went in with low expectations and all these romantic 'first kisses' from fiction crowding together at the back of my mind and telling me, against all reason, I should expect something spectacular.
And yet I did feel better. The kiss itself was quite enjoyable, but what I really got a kick out of was feeling like I finally had a control over my own destiny. I wasn't sad, doe-eyed Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed, hanging around for that special someone to sweep me off my feet with the perfect kiss; I was a real woman, making decisions for myself (albeit slightly clouded by the alcohol*, though the kiss was premeditated for a few weeks; the guy was incidental. Sorry Jim/Lord Vader, scourge of the Galaxy; if I ever meet you again I'll buy you a cookie for your trouble, although the chance is I won't recognise you and if I do I'll probably blush to remember how drunk* I was and walk away really slowly, not making eye contact.)
|The moment you realise you're about to kiss the boy of your dreams... and screw it up.|
I'm not a cynic. I love a good first kiss as much as the rest of them. But at the end of the day a first kiss, like everything else in life, should be an experience, a learning step, not the be-all and the end-all, the final signpost, 'This is the Best in the World'.
*(disclaimer: for children and other impressionable readers. KIDS! Drinking is bad. As you will soon learn, it makes you do and think stupid things, like: 'I look great in this skirt!' 'I can dance on that table-top in my six-inch heels!' and 'Who says men with eyepatches can't make good lovers and potential life partners?')