New Life : Erica Take 4 – How Is There Still No Kiss?

New Life : Erica Take 4 – How Is There Still No Kiss?

I was planning on kissing Erica tonight. I knew I would. Our fourth date with the last one ending in a missed kiss opportunity that we talked about for weeks. Everyone knew it was going to happen except, apparently, her. 

“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““` 10:21pm My Couch, NYC. Listening to Erik Satie & Friends Writing These Stories

She looked back at me with a smile as she walked to her car, “You only get one chance for a first kiss.” 

Something so poetic. To which I responded by saying, “You suck.” 

Since I was going back and forth between San Diego and New York there would often be weeks between dates. During that time we had to survive on texts and calls. All of which could only weave the thread so far without the imprint of physical touch actually holding us together.

We ate dinner at Shalom Japan in Williamsburg. She sent me a list of five restaurants to choose from earlier and after looking at all the menus it was between there and Llama Inn. I really like answering the phone by saying, “Shalom” so I said I wanted to eat there.

“It was started by a couple. After they moved in together they started cooking together. One of them was Jewish and the other Japanese. That’s how they came up with this concept and the menu.” 

That sounded cute to me. And helped explain why four tiny scallops went for $20. 

I made the reservation online for 7pm. There was a section to leave a note for special requests. “On a hot date. Make me look good.” 

She wore a blue and white polka dot dress with short sleeves and a collar. The front cut down through the top of her sternum, where she kept fidgeting with the button. My eyes kept following her hand and then returning to her face so she didn’t think I was waiting for a peek. Her skin was olive and smooth and her dark hair rested gently on her shoulders.

I kept thinking to tell her she looked pretty but every time the thought started traveling down towards my mouth it didn’t feel right. There is still a part of me that is gripped by tension in her presence. A nervousness that isn’t necessarily uncomfortable, but more reserved. 

I told her I liked talking to her on the phone the last two nights. I felt like it was easy and I could be myself. I pictured her lying in bed, gentle. She was open. Her laugh came easily. We were teasing each other better than we could do through text. 

A phone call is the right amount of intimacy for me at this point in my life, it seems. There is still a connection through our voices. And there is no awkward tension. Perhaps that tension will go away after we kiss and our bodies join a little more. 

She was raised Jewish. I learned that after she pronounced the challah bread as ‘hallah’ and I had to ask her to point to where the hell on the menu that bread was located because I didn’t see it anywhere. 

“It’s ‘C-H’ but you don’t pronounce the C,” she explained.

“And how does one acquire this knowledge?” I asked.

“I was raised Jewish. Have you ever eaten Jewish food before?”

I had not. Nor had I ever dated a Jewish person. I thought about how Ashley, Ang, and I would have to stop making jokes about how we were Jewish because of our behavior sometimes. And how it was probably terribly inappropriate and unfunny to an actual Jewish person. But then she said she didn’t practice or identify as Jewish anymore so I thought there might still be a chance.  

We ate the challah bread with raisin butter. Then we had tofu skin dumplings with ricotta cheese and truffle oil, four expensive sea scallops with maitake mushrooms and miso butter, and lox with rice and cucumbers. 

We talked about going bowling after. She suggested it.

“Where did you come up with that idea?” I asked.

“I was trying to think of what fun sober things people do. Like, what we could do besides go to a bar.” 

She ordered a drink earlier, after much debate. She asked if I was going to drink. I said probably not. But I knew she was in the mood and it was the right kind of place for a drink. Eventually, I talked her into a Japanese whiskey with ginger and black sugar. She resisted at first because she said it didn’t sound as fun to drink by herself. 

“You’re going to have to just learn to do it. If you want a drink you should definitely have a drink,” I said.

“It’s just that with some people who don’t drink it can make them uncomfortable being around alcohol.”

“I get that. As far as I know, I’m not an alcoholic and I don’t mind if you get a drink with dinner sometimes and sometimes I might drink with you.” 

And so she did. Although she probably would’ve felt better if I did as well.  

All of our food was gone. She had stopped eating before me and I slowly made my way into every corner of every dish and cleaned out what was remaining. 

We talked again about the beach house and the city loft. She seemed to like me more when we talked about things like this. 

I asked her a couple dates ago why she liked me. She paused for a while. She had to think hard. 

“I think we share a lot of the same values,” she finally came up with.

What I heard was that she liked the idea of someone like me. She focused on the conceptual when I was living in the specifics. The specifics are what matter. What do you like about me? What things will I do everyday that make you smile and appreciate our time together?

“Oh, and you have nice dimples.” 


When we talked about the future properties it confirmed those shared values to her. Which I think were being rich and having space to live the exact kind of lives we wanted. 

Still, her collarbones were bare and her neck was just sitting there waiting to be kissed and she had it in her eyes that she was only keeping a calm exterior so she could later rock me. It had been a while since I’d touched new lips and maybe I didn’t need to feeling a roaring connection right now. Perhaps shared values and dimples would be enough for me as I reentered the dating world.

We walked through Williamsburg for a while. I was looking for a moment. Every corner came with a pause and a look around to determine if it was the exact right spot for a kiss.

“What are you doing?” she kept asking me with a grin.

Eventually she called the car to be picked up. Perhaps she grew tired of my destination-less search.

“How long til it arrives?” I asked.

“Four minutes. Why?”

“Let’s go over there,” I said, signaling to the opposite corner where the buildings seemed more romantic than the buildings behind us.

When it arrived she turned to me for a hug and I was there with my lips after repeating to myself just fucking do it a number of times until I didn’t have a choice.

I can only think of three times in my life when the first kiss happened because I was so compelled to kiss someone. Because it was so obviously the only conceivable result of my being in their presence. And only one time in my life has a first kiss lit my body up in a way that felt so powerful that I often think it wasn’t real.

Every other time I’ve been going in for the first kiss just to get it over with. As an observer of the two people on a date who probably should kiss because what else is the point of it all?

She went in for the hug. I went in for the kiss.

She turned her face away like John Wick avoiding a punch and my lips landed perfectly on the divot between her cheek bone and the corner of her mouth.

She walked away smiling. ““You only get one chance for a first kiss,” she said. 

Why do I do this to myself?

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