You know that thing people say about sex being like pizza? That even when it’s bad, it’s good? I have another proposal, another sexual-activity-as-food analogy: Kissing is like a milk shake. I’m going to go at this in a few different ways, so just hang in there. Even when you’re starting to feel sick, you want to keep going. Even when your mouth is tired, you want to keep suctioning. It will make you wonder if you even know how your mouth works. You will realize that breathing through your nose has its limits. Something will feel very wrong, and kind of frustrating, but it will also feel very right. You want it always, but especially while on your period.
It was thanks to Colleen’s, Rylee’s, and my participation in college tennis that year that we had come into contact with this small yet powerful bastion of male sexuality going by the inauspicious name of Dylan. He was a freshman on the boys’ team, and we didn’t know anything about him apart from the fact that he was dead sexy. He didn’t talk much, but when he did he was funny and charming. He was persistently tanned, with green eyes and a mop of black hair. A hot, well-kept mop. I want to say that he looked vaguely like Adrien Brody, but I’m not even sure that’s fair. They both had black hair and they’re both sexy in a way that can’t really be explained, so I guess there’s that. I didn’t have a legitimate crush on him or anything—even I knew this was someone I could not reasonably hope to date. His existence was one of those rare occasions where everyone gathers around to simply admire someone’s beauty, without really feeling the need to compete over it or make it an issue. Our girls’ tennis team viewed Dylan as our tiny, small, hot, perfect tennis trophy man. Sure, we’d tease each other—“I got to sit by Dylan in the trainer’s office while we both got our ankles wrapped, like soul mates.” “Shut up, I hate you, I hope you actually die.”—but we knew that Dylan was a precious natural resource, meant to be shared and used only sparingly. He was like sexy coal.
That being said, one hundred percent of us would absolutely have made out (etc.) with him if given the chance. So I wasn’t crossing the line when I decided to mine a little bit of Dylan for myself. (Ugh, this coal metaphor!) Any one of us would have done the same thing. Any one of us would have met the same sad fate that I did. It’s not about me, it’s about nature. Probably.
I don’t know what came over me the night it happened. I’ve shared my theories, but only with the recognition that they don’t quite cover it all. I am not the sort of person who just decides she’s going to win somebody over and then does it. I am not a good aggressor. I am not a lighthouse. I’d never before set out on a boy-related mission and actually accomplished it, and I never have since, either. I am sure this was something cosmic, something magical. I think it was the tequila.
As we pre-gamed in Rylee and Lacy’s dorm room that night, I told my friends about my plan and they cooed in a way that was somehow both approving and wary. They knew, by the laws of nature, that they could not stop me. But neither could they protect me from whatever might happen next. I saw the fear in their faces, but I ignored it, because I was maniacal by that point. “Mark my words,” I told them, without further clarification. “Mark . . . my . . . words.”
My mission was not elegant. I can admit that now. It involved more running, more drunken yelling, and more semi-hostile interrogation of Dylan’s frat brothers than I would have liked. Sure, in a perfect world I would not have called his friend “black shirt guy” quite so many times, or at all. And yes, it probably came off more rude than it did flirtatious when I threw two of Dylan’s cigarettes on the ground, once I finally found him in the courtyard behind his frat house. I was a creature possessed. So after just a few moments spent standing alongside Dylan and my friends, I decided to take action. I grabbed his hand and dragged him out to the basement dance floor. I don’t know if I even said anything. I can’t recall, and I don’t think that’s even (just) because I was drunk. We went to the farthest wall and went about “dancing,” which is to say that we swayed in the same directions together at a proximity that might be considered inappropriate in most contexts. At first my back was against his front, but I turned around to face him after a few songs. My leg was sort of in between his legs and my hands were up on the wall behind him. Was I trapping him, a little bit? It might have looked like I was trapping him.
Dylan and I did that look-at-each-other-until-something- happens thing, which is so frustrating I cannot stand it, so I kissed him. I wasn’t about to let another Eric situation happen. I wasn’t going to let Sexy Coal get away just because I didn’t show enough interest when I had the chance. The kissing itself was just all right. Better technique than Eric, more thrilling than Ethan, but does that really mean anything? It was the kind of good kissing that is really only good because of how hot the person you’re doing it with is. So we made out for parts of a song, danced a little bit more, made out a little more, and repeated. It’s not so much that I was having a genuinely great time as it was that I didn’t know when, or how, to stop. I sort of felt like, if I had put in all that work, and actually made this thing happen, and he was willing, I might as well keep kissing him until some third party legitimately forced me to cease and desist.
That happened in a much realer way than I was expecting. Suddenly, a girl I had never seen before was in my face and screaming at me. She wasn’t mad, at first. Just drunk.
“Oh my GOD, my boyfriend just totally yelled at me because he thought that you were ME and that I was making out with some other guy!!!” she squealed.
I was confused for many reasons, among which were the facts that I was at least five inches taller and five shades paler than she was. Nobody with any kind of vision would confuse us in a lineup. But it was sort of a funny thing to have happen, so I laughed in a way that I hoped would suggest that I wanted her to see I was kind of busy at the moment.
“Oh, haha, nope!” I said. Back slowly away from Sexy Coal, I thought, and nobody gets hurt.
I turned back around, unknowingly leaving a quickly forming wall cloud in my wake. It was happening. I had broken a law of physics or something similar—whatever rule it is that states that perfect hot trophy people are not to be messed with, lest you set the earth’s weather systems off balance. Behind me, the girl started screaming. I didn’t even actually hear it, because I had tequila earmuffs on (that IS a thing). Later, in the post- apocalyptic world that was born the next day, my friends told me they saw her storm off screaming about “that fucking bitch” she’d just talked to. I would never learn why. My best guess is that she thought I somehow insinuated that we could never be mistaken for one another? Like I thought she was uglier than me or something? I really don’t know. There is probably no real answer to be had, other than the fact that karma had stepped in to take me down a notch.
That was penance part one.
Part two came later in the night, and it was so much worse. After a few more rounds of making out—my lips starting to hurt, but my liquid brain refusing to just call it a night—Dylan took a pause to tell me he thought it was time he headed back. I could hardly hear the words coming from his mouth, because of the howling desert winds that had taken up spinning around us. This was not how it was supposed to go. He was supposed to want to keep kissing me. He was supposed to ask me to come back to his dorm, so that I could sleep over and then have to walk back in the morning in my shiny party clothes. I (probably) didn’t want to have sex with him, but I wanted to do at least one or two semi-gross steps beyond the making out we had already done. I wanted some goddamn progress.
“Are you sure? Really? You’re leaving?” I asked, still holding his hand.
“Yeah . . . I’ve gotta go do some homework.”
And just like that, it was quiet. The clock struck midnight—midnight on a Saturday—and I turned into a pumpkin.
From the book NEVER HAVE I EVER by Katie Heaney. Copyright © 2014 Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY. All rights reserved.
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