Easy as 1, 2, . . . 3

(from Chicken Soup for the Soul)

We had gone to a movie, and he was walking me to the door. Just as I was about to go inside, something stopped me and I turned around. He was smiling a little, and the stars in the background twinkled as if to say, “Go for it!” We both leaned in carefully and our lips met. My stomach was doing cartwheels of joy – it was the perfect first kiss.
Wait a minute! That wasn’t my first kiss – the last time I’ve seen anything that flawless was in the movies.
No, my first kiss was not touched by the twinkle of the stars or perfect movie timing, though I had dreamed about it long enough to hope that it would be. In my dreams, my lips met a boy’s in perfect sync, our eyes closed and our hearts pulsed together at hyperspeed. Plenty of other girls my age had already started kissing, and they all made it sound so easy. Even though I had imagined all the details of that moment in my mind, I hadn’t considered the possibility that I wasn’t really ready for the real deal. Instead of imagining it as a personal thing that I would have to grow into, I treasured kissing as a step toward growing up, one that all girls must do at the same age.
I didn’t realize how wrong I was until I finally had my first kiss.
My first boyfriend and I were watching a movie. It seemed like the classic setup for a kiss – watching a movie alone with a boy I thought I really liked. So why was I so shocked when he suddenly moved toward me, apparently hoping for more than just a hug? Why did I feel so uncomfortable and unprepared? When my lips met his, it felt like they were fumbling around in the dark, clueless and confused – and I didn’t like it.
In my cloud of confusion, I tried to make sense of my feelings. My friends all knew how to kiss and they liked it – at least they made it sound that way. After feeling so unsure about my first kiss, I became scared of trying it again.
Hoping to buy some time over the kissing confusion, I talked to my boyfriend about it. “Maybe we could just take it a little slower,” I suggested. I told him I just didn’t feel ready to kiss, but it wasn’t because I didn’t like him. I simply wasn’t comfortable with all that lip-locking. He didn’t get it – he said he didn’t really understand why kissing, of all things, was an issue.
I was shocked. So he was just like the rest, who believed that kissing was something that everyone our age did with no problem. He couldn’t believe that I would somehow be uncomfortable with it. I had thought that he was a boy I could trust and be respected by, and I didn’t want to change myself or force myself to kiss him just so I could have a boyfriend.
Obviously he didn’t want a girl who was honest with him like I was, and so we broke up – which hurt a lot at the time. It made no sense that a boy could like me one minute and then ditch me the next, just because I wasn’t ready for kissing. I trusted my feelings though, and I believed that when the time was right, the kissing would be, too.
A few years later, the time was finally right. I had been seeing a new guy who had a different attitude and personality from my first boyfriend. I started to think that maybe not only was the time right for the kiss, but the boy was right, too. After hearing about my kissing phobia, he had not run in the other direction laughing. One night under the stars, while saying good night to him, I noticed that my stomach was no longer telling me No! As I gazed into his eyes, wondering if after we kissed I would feel comfortable about it, he sweetly offered to meet me halfway.
“Emily,” he said, holding my hand, “how about this? I’ll count to three. I’ll just count to three, and we’ll kiss.”
I smiled and felt relief push me closer toward him. “Okay,” I replied.
And then, in the most understanding voice, he counted: “One, two, . . . three.” We leaned forward, eyes closed, and we kissed. Instead of looking at him in shock afterward, I wrapped my arms around him. It was the only way I knew to thank him for such a wonderful moment. To know that someone could care about me and respect me enough to go at my pace made me happier than if I had been kissing boy after boy for many years.
The wait for the right kiss had seemed so long, but now I can trust that it was worth it. The kiss we counted out that night was better than the movies and the kisses my friends had been having, because at the heart of it was deep caring and respect.
Finally, when everything seemed right, kissing was as easy as one, two, . . . three.

Written by Emily A. Malloy (Chicken Soup for the Girl’s Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Hansen and Irene Dunlap)

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