Kiss Well.

Ladies and gentlemen, snag your lip balm and ready your smackers—holiday season is upon us. Between an opportune mistletoe encounter, or a New Year’s Eve spit-swap at the stroke of twelve, there’s something to be said about a powerful peck.

There are few things I love more than kissing. And whatever human decided awkwardly placing one’s mouth on the lips of another human being was a good idea deserves a damn Nobel Prize. Because it’s fantastic.

Allow me to go Ghost of Christmas Past for a hot second.

My first kiss far surpassed any stereotypical teenage daydream. It was completely innocent and so full of hope.

After an evening of cuddling, I shifted away from his warm, youthful chest with the intention of scampering down to my red Jeep Cherokee to make it home before curfew. I was seventeen. But making my midnight deadline had already become an impossible task, so another five minutes in the crook of his armpit was harmless.

Butterflies fluttered about my stomach with the grace of rhinos. I knew it was coming, so did he. When I decided to surrender to my looming trek home we mutually agreed to a countdown before I’d move, effectively prolonging the inevitable for five more seconds.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

On one I gently smashed my lips to his, and voila, my first kiss. Cue the fireworks. I was too fresh to fully comprehend the symmetry and coordination required for an effective smooch, but it was grand just the same. A rush of blood flushed my cheeks, and when I finally returned from my teenage state of euphoria, panic arose at the sight of the clock.

I needed to get my ass home.

I pecked him one more time at the door before skipping to my Jeep, ponytail swinging gleefully behind me, popped in some Sara Bareilles, then gunned it down the drive.

I was sold—kissing was the best thing ever. And so began my lip-locking love affair.

The subsequent three first kisses have two things in common; all three were utterly brilliant, and all three involved a couch. The methods of execution, I’ll keep for myself, the fellas, and the sofas. But the kisses themselves, I’ll shamelessly share.

My second first kiss tasted like Miller Lite. The couch, your standard low-grade futon. This sounds like a setup for a shit-show, but the kiss was packed with oomph and the result of months of unbearable tension.

Who closed the deal, I can’t recall—that might’ve had something to do with vodka—but I distinctly remember a feeling of power knowing all of my dizzying daydreams were justified.

My third first kiss was more delicious than a fat slice of German Chocolate Cake. The couch, a grey microsuede sectional. The man had eyes that could shatter your soul with a single smoldering squint.

I just alliterated, good lord. Stop drooling.

His lips were ecstasy, his voice like honey. His tongue, a depraved world explorer. It was fast-paced and lustful, yielding the type of heat that could effectively melt the sun.

My fourth first kiss was incredible, and wholly unexpected. The couch, an aubergine IKEA masterpiece. The kiss, like its bestower, was overwhelmingly, breathtakingly sensual. I completely lost myself in that moment.

Very rarely do I emerge without words—I was speechless. It shook my core.

While I’ve never experienced either of the aforementioned idyllic holiday smooching scenarios, I’ve shared several wonderful kisses with several wonderful men. And all four of them offered valuable lessons in memorable lip-locks.

This is what I know.

Put the hands to work; a gentle jaw caress, a forefinger hooked behind the ear, a collar-bone graze, a palm slipped purposely down the ribcage. Build some tension; tease. Pause an 1/8 of an inch from their lips. Feel their breath, feel their grin. Make it purposeful. Put your back into it. Savor the contact; make note of the softness. Give the tongue a whirl. Nibble. Add love (or don’t).

Kiss well.

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