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First Kiss and Other Creative Endeavors

When I try to remember my first kiss…the first real kiss I ever had with a boy…I come up blank. I can’t even remember who it was. I do remember fantasizing what it would be like. I even made a contraption called the “French Kissing Machine” when I was thirteen or fourteen. This device would allow me enough practice that I’d be able to kiss with ease. It’s main components were a toilet paper tube, cardboard, tape, and chewed gum. If you can’t imagine how all that could be used to make a kissing machine, allow me to describe in detail. The toilet paper tub was the mouth. I sliced the top and bottom portion of it and used cardboard to make an upper and lower set of teeth that could be pushed up and down inside the tube, thus mimicking tiny little love nips. I also made a cardboard tongue that could be played with, although it dampened quickly with saliva. But the piece de resistance—the crowning glory—was the “realistic” pair of lips constructed from chewed gum molded around the end of the paper tube. Obviously this would probably not be a selling point if let loose on the open market, but it was for me alone, and it was my expelled gum, so germs did not deter from using my new invention. I showed it to my sister and our mutual friend, who both stared at it with equal parts disgust and amusement. It soon became evident, however, that my design was faulty. In order to move both teeth up and down and dart the cardboard tongue in and out of the gummy lips, one needed three hands. Whoops. Years later, I finally received my first real kiss. And although I can’t remember which boy gave it to me or how I felt at that moment, I do remember it was one of those tight-lipped kisses. No parted mouth. No exploring tongues. I’m pretty sure no hands were used, either. So maybe it wasn’t necessary for my invention to prepare me for that moment after all. Maybe all I needed was a boy willing to learn with me.

photo by Salvatore Vuono @

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