New Year’s Eve got me thinking about kisses. They say you never forget your first. Mine came at a school dance with a curly-haired boy named David who had braces and wore clogs before it was any kind of stylish for males to do so. At 15, I was a bookish nerd who wasn’t sure anyone would ever kiss her. Remember how urgent that seems when you’re 15? That first-ever smooch was a milestone for me, but I don’t recall now if it was particularly good or not.
Fast forward 15 years from that school-gym kiss. I flung myself into the kind of adventure that I was really too chicken for but undertook anyway—I moved to Paris with no job and no real plan beyond finding one and studying French.
There, I met a French-Moroccan so amazingly gorgeous that my friends referred to him as Beautiful Hasan. For our second date, he took me out for pizza and a movie, something in French because he said—kindly—that my French sounded as though it came out of a school book, which it did, of course. After the movie, I invited him to my apartment for a drink.
Hasan asked for Calvados, the French aged hard cider that puts any other cider you’ve ever tasted to shame. Aiming for sophistication, I poured myself a cognac. We sat at opposite ends of the sofa, and out of nerves, I swirled the cognac in my glass for the longest time before I took a sip.
“I’d like to taste that,” he said.
I held out my glass.
“Not that way,” he said.
I gulped, and my heart just about blasted out of my chest. It’s a wonder my glass didn’t break, I set it down on the coffee table so hard. Hasan smiled, eased closer, took my face in his hands, and gave me the kind of tender, cherishing kiss that you read about in books. His Calvados and my cognac mingled. It took my breath away. Still does when I think about it.
Now, I’ve had memorable kisses since, but none of them equaled that first one from Hasan. In some ways, I relive that kiss in every one I write. It’s a small tribute to the kind of perfect moment that I hope everyone has at least once in a lifetime.