“On First Kisses” by Nick Schonberger, NYC

Love and Heartbreak August 19, 2011 10:00


PenTales Pick of the Day- By: Tiffany Colon

Most of us can remember our very first kiss.  But can we remember the first time we kissed everyone we kissed?  Probably not.  Nick Schonberger chronicles his experiences for us in On First Kisses.  This piece is full of humor and nostalgia for what once was and what will be over and over again until the right person is found.  Schonberber is effective at both making the reader try to remember all their first kisses but, at the same time, making us wonder if they really mattered at all.


as read at PenTales event themed “Love and Heartbreak”

Do first kisses mean anything?

My first proper kiss, one outside the playground, occurred on a dock, beside a lake. I recall the lady saying something about skinny dipping. I may or may not have said, “ or, we can just get naked here.” Then we made out in a super awkward fashion for a period of time much longer than I’ d like to honestly reveal. Funnily enough, nobody got naked.

That begins a story of great inconsistency. In my 29 years, and in enough situations, I’ ve kissed a few different women for the first time. I don’ t have a “ move.” Or, a style.

Do other men have methods to this? Fool proof choreography that anticipates the peculiarities of a new partner, and balances passion and tenderness. (Are men supposed to think about tenderness?). What is at stake with a first kiss? Something? Nothing? Everything?

Sadly, a good portion of my first kisses came in college, while grossly intoxicated. In these cases, the first kiss was empty (the end result isn’ t important here) and devoid of any relational aspiration. In meaning, the kiss was wasted. An aimless action undertaken in a most baseless form of lust.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with those experiences. They don’ t differ greatly from my true first. While they are technically first kisses, given the divorce from potential romantic entanglement there is no reason to rehash them all here.

After a wild college life, I moved to the respectable world of graduate school. Several weeks in a nice girl asked me if I owned the documentary Scratch. Perhaps she was interested, perhaps the question arose because I was wearing a Rob Swift t-shirt (totally unlikely), or most probably it came because she was interested in me (I wouldn’ t have noticed, I read signals like a blind man). In any event, I did own Scratch and we watched it together in her apartment. After the final credits, feeling quite bold (thanks beer!), I asked her if I could kiss her.

She said yes. We ended up dating for quite sometime.

Our eventual breakup also coincided with my decision to sober up – for the record, we did not break up because of my drinking… but we may have broken up because of a steadfast desire to regularly attend the NBA All-Star Game – leaving me with both room for new first kisses and without the crutch of Dutch courage for aid.

My next two first kisses happened in kitchens. Both times the kettle was boiling. Both times I was incredibly attracted to the woman in question. Once I said, “ I could kiss you right now.”

Once I said, well, nothing.

At the time of each kiss, I very much wanted to date both women. One relationship lasted two months and died thanks to a trip to the NBA All-Star Game (a theme, you’ ll note, is developing). The second lasted a hair over a year. It ended with heartbreak and the loss of a very loyal dog.

A kiss near boiling water won’ t happen again.

But, looking back I think about timing. In the case of the later kiss, the moment had been preceded by the following email – “ Hi, I feel that you sometimes think about making out with me. I just wanted to let you know I’ d be amenable to that. Best, Nick.” The lady responded, “ You are very funny.” And, thanks to not being an idiot for once I read the signal correctly.

She had wanted to make out with me.

In her freezing kitchen in the early afternoon of New Year’ s Eve, we kissed for the first time. In that instance, the experience must have been far better than either of us imagined, for it was the true beginning of a real romance. We very quickly became star crossed lovers.

It remains one of very few times with that lady I look back on with fondness.

The kiss balanced some degree of anticipation with a deft capturing of the moment. It was cold, an embrace made sense… a mutual attraction led to the inevitable.

Imperfect, yes, but still combining elements I feel important to the first kiss.

Anticipation. Attraction. Surprise.

I’ m not hanging out in bars anymore. I’ m not drunk enough to kiss at random. I’ m turning into, what some men might call a pussy, but I’ m happy to believe is an adult.

Still, I wonder what is at stake with a first kiss.

Something? Nothing? Everything?

Experience hasn’ t taught me much beyond the feeling kissing a good looking girl is a nice one. I’ve never had a first kiss that would accurately chart the course of a long-term relationship.

Should it matter? Should it provoke worry?

Or, should the first kiss always just be as awkward as that rather sleazy time on a lake side dock? Filled with lust, the potential for passion, and plenty of room for improvement.


1 Comment