Zoe Rocha is yearning for a kiss …
Five extremely long and lonely months ago I had my very last “first kiss”. It was after a first date with someone I’d met mid-air on a transatlantic flight from London to Los Angeles. It was a great first kiss. He was suave. A striking Danish actor who’d arranged a film-worthy date under the butterfly-covered ceiling at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood. After an evening of flirtatious glances over Forbidden Fizz cocktails from their “secret menu”, he gently took my hand, pulled me close and dipped me deliberately for a goodnight kiss. Natural, smooth and unsuspected with just enough of a sprinkling of lust to be deeply sexy. Everything around us just paused. Have you ever noticed that there’s something about a great kiss that just freezes time, even if only for a beat?
Alas, despite our incredibly promising Hollywood smooch the magic evaporated as swiftly as the fairytale began. But the memory of a good kiss is something that I believe is worth honouring. And some kisses … well, they just stay with you forever.
You may be able to tell that I am someone who loves ‘romance’. I was brought up on romantic fiction and the notion of first kisses catching you unaware in windswept locations as fireworks erupt, completely unexpected, in the pit of your stomach. That intoxicating feeling of the infinite possibilities of true love stretching out in front of you. You know, the kind of wild madness that romantic movies indoctrinated us all with in the early noughties!
But for months now the global pandemic has dramatically altered the landscape of dating and forbidden any touch – let alone exchanges of fluids – with anyone outside our “bubble”. Luscious lips must now be concealed behind a mask when in close proximity to others. Even sneaking an admiring side glance at another set of lips seems like a distant memory from a happy-go-lucky bygone era.
If you’re single, like me, you will have been finding it harder than most in all matters of love at the moment. Previously having been envied for our carefree, liberated lifestyles and steady stream of adorable meet-cutes, we now find ourselves at a unique cultural moment trying to navigate the ever evolving social distancing rules on the path to our very own first post-corona kiss.
The old method of kissing numerous frogs in the hopes of discovering that elusive Prince Charming seems long gone. Now, not only do I imagine that I will still be neurotically worrying – am I using too much tongue/too little tongue?? Is my breath minty-fresh/is it overpoweringly minty fresh?!/ did we just bash each other’s teeth?!?! How in the hell will we come back from this?!?! … I’ll also have to be simultaneously mentally calculating the risks of spreading or contracting a terrifying virus. All Emma Stone had to do was throw on some sparkly heels and do a quickstep through Los Angeles on her quest to kiss Ryan Gosling in La La Land!
And now as summer – the season of letting your guard down and in turn letting romance take centre stage – starts to draw to a close, I’ve obviously been obsessing about this far too much, as I imagine many of us are. While expectant hearts during the Spanish Flu might have seen love blossom via handwritten letters, I have thrown caution the wind and embraced online dating for the first time in my life on my quest to use the time to actually build an emotional connection with another human being.
Apparently I am not alone. The dating app Bumble recently ran a survey that found that 55 per cent of their users are now seeking more meaningful relationships having experienced loneliness in lockdown. It would appear that the coronavirus hasn’t stopped people searching for love. But it seems that in this new era of restricted socialising, for me, it’s going to be an exercise in seeing whether someone is perfect on paper before I can even think about engaging in my “first kiss”.
When I finally do lock lips with my next leading man in this brave new world, our masks come off and those magical sparks of a first kiss fly, I hope that in that moment everything will pause – if even just for a second, as I think, “Now, that’s what I’ve been waiting for”.
* (And then agree to forsake all others, well, at least to keep all others two metres away from me for 14 days!)
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