I am not sure how the female of the species navigates this world of dating but it sure as hell freaked me out when it became my turn. My entrance into this social experimentation on ego and identity was a rough one. It started with a school dance, where I had originally refused to go but was finally convinced by my classmates who probably saw me as a new project. I was the new kid who had them initially convinced that I was their substitute teacher and although I lost the briefcase my school uniform didn’t change.
I must have stood outside for twenty minutes, afraid to enter the gym, before I found the courage to do so. Inside this hot crowded room was a couple hundred peers, all awkwardly standing around. That helped. My dancing technique was a left to right shuffle with my arms straight by my side. With the really crazy songs I bent my arm at the elbow, mimicking some pathetic robot from a 1950’s movie.
I began to loosen up when I saw a fellow classmate suddenly jump up into the air into some sort of forward somersault and then landing in such a way as to imitate a worm like action. It is hard to explain but really cool to watch.
“I could do that”, I thought to myself.
And so I began to move my jointed arms from side to side, in step with the shuffle.
When the dust settled on my foray into some sort of social life and I was easing into this new identity I found myself in a relationship with a girl three years my senior. Now things were serious. I had myself a girlfriend. My first girlfriend, and that could only mean one thing. My first kiss.
Sure I had previous experience chasing girls around the playground pulling their ponytails and kissing them, but taking note that strategy didn’t work, as my family drove away from that community, I had forgotten about this whole aspect of a relationship. And weirdly enough, when I got married in another community, we never kissed, as that part of the ceremony was forgotten about. Or perhaps we thought it was gross. Either way, I was now faced with the dilemma of having my first kiss and I had no idea what to do.
In the privacy of my room I reached for the comfort of my teddy bear. Yes, I was a teenager with a teddy bear. In fact I have had some sort of teddy bear up until my mid to late 30s when we moved to a prairie province and needed to radically downsize our belongings for the journey. That was a sad moment for me. However, I digress.
I reached for my teddy bear, and, standing in front of my mirror, teddy bear clenched in my hand I stared at it. Occasionally I would look at the mirror and then back to the teddy bear. I puckered my lips and looked at the mirror. I moved in closer to the mirror and then back again, holding my pose. I looked ridiculous but I was determined to figure out how to master this thing.
Taking a deep breath I started again. Puckering my lips I pulled the teddy bear up to my face and kissed its mouth. Interesting. I kissed again but this time I was looking at my reflection in the mirror so I could try to get it right.
Kissing looked weird.
But it was oddly satisfying.
“Good enough”, I thought to myself. I was ready.
The ‘real’ kiss came a few days after. I was ready. I puckered my lips and kissed her just as I had practiced.
The bear was a better kisser.