It's not that I don't necessarily enjoy the idea of romance. After all, I've read more than my fair share of trashy love novels in my time. I know how it's all supposed to go down. Provided I have honey gold locks, a creamy complexion and violet eyes that show my spirited and untamed passion that's waiting to be unlocked, one day my Scottish laird will come down and I'll find myself beguiled by his bronzed acres of chest. See? I'm romantic.
It's just that I'm not very good at being romantic. In the movies, they always have that sappy music playing that lets them know it's time to say something meaningful, or move in for that first kiss, or whatever. The problem with my life is that it doesn't come with its own soundtrack, so I usually find myself wandering around in a state of confusion, trying to figure out what the next appropriate move is. The whole awkward dating scenario only compounds my normal social stupidity. Frankly, I think there's a part of me that wouldn't mind being "trapped" in an arranged marriage, or even banned from the dating world altogether. It's a wonder I've managed to hang onto my current boyfriend as long as I have. I think it must be because he's just as socially inept as I am. Sweetie, if you're reading this... I love you! And honey, now that I have your attention? Uh... quit paying attention, because I'm about to talk about me and another man. Have you checked your email lately? I bet there's something really interesting that someone sent you! Quick, go look!
So, now that I have the boyfriend safely distracted, let me share the story of the WORST ALMOST-FIRST KISS EVER.
Many many moons ago... like, say, maybe about two and a half years worth of moons, I was a single young college student living up in Northern California. I had become addicted to an internet dating website called okcupid.com because of the endlessly fun user tests. No, really. You've got to believe me. I really WAS on there because of the user tests. The fact that there were profiles of good-looking Christian guys who lived near me just happened to be a nice little perk. Using my special, keen girly sensors, I honed in on one particular young gentleman who I found particularly interesting. We shall name him "Luke" for the sake of anonymity. Luke was an extremely high match percentage, seemed like he had a strong walk with God, appeared intelligent and moderately literate... and had a great smile in most of his photos. So, we "chatted". Over the weeks, and then months, the emails flew between us. We hit it off pretty well, and we both seemed really interested in each other. There was only two main problems:
Number one, he lived about 600 miles away, and number two, there was NO WAY I was actually going to meet up with someone off the internet. After all, everyone knows that the people on those websites (except for me, of course) are all homicidal maniacs. We'd meet in person, shake hands, and then the next thing you know I'd be chopped up and placed in carefully-labeled little ziploc baggies. He probably had a collection of little ziploc baggies that he kept in his freezer, from all of his internet-conquests. The little frozen bags of BECKY would no doubt be filed alphabetically between "Stupid Internet Girl Named ALICE" and "Stupid Internet Girl Named CARLA", and taken out only on the anniversary of my death. Nooooo thank you.
Unfortunately for my safe plans, I had a pushy friend who I shall call "Mary Lou". Mary Lou thought that Luke had a GREAT smile, seemed completely genuine, and saw absolutely no reason why we shouldn't meet up. In fact, she hounded me relentlessly about it. Luke could stay at her house, with her parents (her dad was a big ol' hulking guy). Luke had a four day weekend coming up. I could take some time off of work and get to know him, in the safety of her parents home. She thought it was a great idea. Luke thought it was a great idea. In fact, her parents even thought it was a great idea.
I folded. After all, it was kind of a fun idea. The day he was coming I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off. I cleaned my room. I fed the horses and set up someone to take over while I was gone. I tried on dozens of outfits. I wanted to look good, but not the kind of good where you seem overly-interested... Pretty, maybe even a little modestly sexy, but uh... not rapeable.
Since I don't want to bore you with unnecessary details, let me just sum up our first four days : we hit it off, well enough that I knew I would be seeing him again when he came up the following weekend (he managed to find an absurdly cheap plane ticket, and Mary Lou's parents said they didn't mind.) In fact, we hit it off so well that I *knew* that sometime before the next weekend was up, we would probably indulge ourselves in a first-kiss.
Now, don't get the wrong impression about me-- I'm not in the habit of running around and kissing strange guys. Just... call it a gut instinct, but somehow I just knew that it would happen. Now that I think about it, I have no idea why I suddenly latched onto the idea that I would be kissing a nearly complete-stranger before the week was up. Nevertheless, I just knew it. In fact, I knew it so well that I was beginning to get a stomachache just thinking about it. I don't know how many of you out there know this about me, but I HATE ANTICIPATION. I hate it. Rather than heightening a moment, anticipation just makes me feel nervous and nauseous. I can't even open biscuit cans, for goodness' sakes, because I'm so busy getting all worked up over the little "POP" that's coming...any....second.... that when it finally does happen I tend to throw the biscuit can to the floor with a scream. Like I said, I HATE ANTICIPATION.
So, there I was with Luke, on the last day of our four-day date, sitting in his car while we prolonged our goodbye. We were parked in front of Mary Lou's parents' house, chatting away contentedly... When IT happened. Some of you guys out there know what I'm talking about. IT. "IT" is that look that happens right before a kiss, when conversation drains away and time stands still. You find yourself suddenly unable to look away from the person in front of you, frozen as IT begins to take over and the two of you lean in slowly for a kiss. Like I said, IT suddenly happened, and Luke and slooowly leaned in... those last, few breathless moments of anticipation drawing out to a torturous halt...
And Mary Lou's dad suddenly came out of his house to get something out of his car. IT's spell was broken, and we began to chatter again nervously.
About ten minutes later, after conversation lulled slightly, IT happened again. And again we leaned in slooowly, drifting towards each other inexorably...
And Mary Lou came out of the house, to get something out of the garage. It was broken again.
And so we talked again. And IT started again. And Mary Lou's neighbor decided to come over to their house for a visit, killing IT. And we talked again. And IT started again. And Mary Lou's mom came out and grabbed something from the front yard before returning to the house.
By that time, the anticipation from IT had turned my stomach into a raging mass of nauseousness. In fact, after having undergone the whole ordeal four or five times, I had had enough. Luke had started back in on some nervous conversation (I can't even remember what), when I decided to take matters into my own hands. Leaning across the console in his car, I rested my weight on my elbow, looked up at him, and spilled out my idea as fast as I could, purposefully not pausing to give him any chance of interrupting.
"Look, I can't take it any more. I can't. We've been almost kissing now for about half an hour, and it's driving me nuts. I'm serious, I can't handle this 'almost' junk any longer. I'm actually nauseous. I feel like throwing up. You should have been on the road twenty minutes ago, and if you leave without kissing me, we both know we're just going to end up kissing next weekend, right? I don't feel like spending the whole week freaking out about it. I just don't. So, rather than sit here and worry about it any longer, why don't we just get this whole 'first-kiss' crap out of the way, and then we won't have to worry about it any longer?"
He looked dubious at this point, so I hurriedly added, "It's like a band-aid, right Luke? I mean, you can take it off slowly, or you can just rip it off all at once and get it over with. Right?" (Of course, now that I think about it, it was kind of a hypocritical little metaphor for me to use... It usually takes me two to three hours to work off a band aid.)
There was a moment or two of silence, during which I truly expected him to lean down and get that dreaded first-kiss out of the way. Then...
"So... let me get this straight. You're saying that the idea of kissing me makes you want to vomit, and you want it get it over with as soon as possible, like ripping off a band aid?" His eyebrows were hitched almost to his hairline, his whole expression incredulous.
At this point I should have just laughed and said something like "Psyche! Just kidding!" Instead, I took the stupid route. I decided he just needed convincing.
"No, Luke. That's not it at all. It's just that I don't LIKE first kisses. Heck, I don't even like first dates. There's just too much anticipation involved. So, why not just get rid of the anticipation? I mean, it doesn't even have to be a good kiss. Just, you know, kiss me, and get it over with. After all, let's face it; a first kiss is never really romantic. It's too nerve-wracking to be romantic. So why should we even bother?"
At this point (and I can't believe I'm sharing this), I actually leaned even further across the console, to make it easier for the kiss to occur. "Let's just get it out of the way so we don't have to think about it anymore, okay?"
What followed was the copyrighted, trademarked, patented, official, etc, etc, etc World's Most Uncomfortable Silence. There I was, half-lunging over the console in my attempt to be practical about IT... and there he was, with that incredibly shocked expression.
The questioning tone in my voice kind of shocked him out of his, well, shock.
"Uh... Becky? I can't do this. I mean, uh..." He gestured at me, at the car, at himself. "This is not romantic. I can't kiss you like this. You may want to get it over with, but I'm not really ready to. I'm sorry, but... uh... I just can't."
You know, if switched the genders, the depiction below is pretty much exactly how that moment in time looked:
Can I say that the dawning horror of OH-CRAP-I'M-AN-IDIOT that began to coalesce in my mind was one of the most embarrassing things I've ever been through? And may I also say that the trip back across the console was also one of the uncomfortable journeys I've ever made? There's nothing like pure, unadulterated shame to make you feel truly uncomfortable.
So, there you go. That's probably one of the stupidest things I've ever done. I dare you to try and top it. Conversation, as usual where my embarrassing stories are concerned, never really recovered. It kind of limped along for another fifteen minutes or so before I bid him goodbye (No, no goodbye kiss.) It took me quite a few months before I was ever able to share that story with Mary Lou, much less anyone else. I'd have to say that ranks right up there in my mental Top Three most embarrassing stories. Maybe I'll be able to share my Number One story with you one of these days, but I doubt it.
Oh, and for the record? I still think I was right--- we should have just gotten it over with.