Over a year prior to my current boyfriend, there was another boy who I dated for a paltry three and a half weeks. Let’s call him R.
R was, like most of the people I’ve ever been attracted to, tall, skinny, and awkward. He made me laugh and smile with his earnest sweetness. He wore ridiculous running shoes with trailing laces and had a huge toothy grin which he flashed when he wasn’t sure what to say.
R was on the student council at my high school, so he had his own “office,” which was really just a repurposed storage closet. It was large enough to fit a desk, a chair, several posters, and his backpack. He basically used it as an oversized locker or a surrogate bedroom; it was always a mess.
Sometimes I would drop by when I knew he’d be there, during his spare period. I’d duck out of art class and creep down the hall to the door with his name on it, and knock, my stomach doing excited gymnastics.
A few of the times that I came to visit him, R and I got up to no good in his office. I’d sit on his desk, trying to be seductive, while he signed important administrative forms or drafted an essay… and eventually he’d notice me, put down his work, and start kissing me.
His desk was in the corner. I remember being pressed up against the wall, so I physically couldn’t move away from the kiss if I wanted to. R was an aggressive kisser, all sloppy-tongued and gropey-handed, which I tried unsuccessfully to convince myself I enjoyed.
I remember thinking, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. My friends raved about kissing, how it was romantic and intimate and life-affirming, but I never felt that. There were no fireworks or orchestral swells. There was only a giant prodding tongue and nagging feelings of doubt and claustrophia.
Naturally, R and I broke up pretty quickly – we were not a good match. I barely missed him, but some effects of my time with him have lingered.
To this day, it still bothers me to be kissed when I’m trapped against a wall, or any other confining surface. My favorite kissing position is straddling my boyfriend while he’s sitting down, because that way, I feel in control, like I can retract consent at any time without making a huge deal of it.
Of course, it helps that my current boyfriend is an excellent kisser, knows that tongue should only ever be an accent, and doesn’t try to asphyxiate me with his mouth.