For some time, I have been wallowing in the awkwardness of a moment. It took a little while to wrap my head around what happened, and reflect on the situation.
I kissed the world's worst kisser.
It happened the old-fashioned romantic way (leaving a bar) and the anticipation was fantastic, the stuff of teenage goose bumps. The minutes leading up it I was smitten, had mentally decorated our hypothetical beach house and was excited for this kiss. Careful what you wish for, they say.
By all possible measures, it was the worst kiss. Technically, the approach and the execution were abysmal but the real injustice was that this awful kiss was on the heels of a really, really good date. So how does one dance around the question of, "When can I see you again?" when the answer isn't one the asker wants to hear? Where does honesty merge with decorum?
What I wanted to say was, "I'd love to see you again, but you are the world's worst kisser, so I'm sorry, I think we should part ways." And ideally, shouted over my shoulder as I sprint in the other direction. But what I say, once I regained rightful control of my mouth, was, "Thanks for a great night" and bought myself some time to think. In the spirit of if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all, I wanted until there was a solid invitation to address it. And I wanted to communicate a polite decline in such a way that no one had to feel burned by it. I stand by my theory that there is a lid for every pot: one day he will kiss someone who kisses in the exact same way and they'll both feel the earth move beneath them.
A 1950s etiquette book reminds us that it is always a woman's prerogative to refuse an invitation, and it is never necessary to make detailed explanations as to why she cannot accept an invitation. The modern footnote to this is the soft decline. My parting words were along the lines of he is fun to be around (true), I had a great night (also true) but I'm just not feeling like this will move on to anything, that perhaps we're not compatible (obviously true).
So I kissed and told, but modestly spared the gory details.
Pity, it was such a good date.
Follow Karen Cleveland on Twitter: www.twitter.com/schoolfinishing