Before I had gotten my first kiss, I looked up to a friend of mine who was much more experienced than I was. I would sit for hours, enthralled, while she recounted her boy adventures (yes, that was a Dawson’s Creek reference, thankyouverymuch)—but there was one thing I never understood. “It just happened,” she’d say, telling me how an innocent hang-out session in a male friend’s basement had become a make-out session. “It just happened,” when her other friends weren’t looking; “it just happened” between her and the guy she supposedly hated; “it just happened” at school, at the mall, in someone’s car.
I couldn’t fathom, then, how physical encounters progressed from secret desire to reality—and did so naturally, without you having to make a grand declaration or even a small admission of feelings. How could one get from point A (not kissing) to point B (kissing) so smoothly? It couldn’t be possible!
Of course, I quickly learned the truth of what my friend had said. Sure, sometimes making moves ends up being pretty awkward, but other times it just happens. You’re dancing with a dude and then, almost accidentally, his tongue is in your mouth and your friend is giving you a double thumbs-up over his shoulder. (Um, that happened.) You’re lying side-by-side on your bed having a nice conversation, but suddenly you’re not talking anymore and things are happening. Oh, so that’s what she meant.
A few summers ago my family flew across the country for the bar mitzvah of a family friend’s son. Their much-older son is my age, and at the reception he introduced me to his best friend, who I’ll call Phil. I didn’t think much of Phil—he seemed like a major bro, and at the time I was trying to avoid guys who appeared too jock-like because I’d had some poor experiences dating athletes in the recent past. Plus, this was one of those embarrassing occasions when your whole family is around—no time to flirt.
Then—I think because our family friend forced him to out of some bizarre sense of hospitality—Phil invited me and my brother to a party he was hosting at his house that night while his parents were out of town. Since we had nothing better to do, we agreed to go. I thought it would be a nice chance to escape the hotel and have a few beers—nothing more.
Flash forward to that night. We start talking, and Phil doesn’t seem like too much of a bro after all. He majors in Public Health. And he tells me that he spends his summers volunteering at a clinic in Africa. He’s the perfect Jewish future-husband of my dreams. On second thought, I AM IN LOVE WITH HIM.
And then, it just happened.
We were having a conversation, and suddenly he was holding my hand under the table. (Let’s remember that my younger brother was witnessing this…eeep. It was definitely a turning point in our siblinghood.) Then we were kissing in his bedroom. And yes, he was a good kisser. Very good. It was the most fortuitous random hook up of my career—who knew I would meet someone at a bar mitzvah?!
Everyone ended up spending the night (you can imagine the great conversation I had with my brother, who very sweetly and innocently asked, “Where did you sleep last night?”—he had slept in Phil’s sister’s empty room—I assured him that we’d kept it PG-13), which gave me enough time to decide that I really did like Phil, which was unfortunate considering that I was leaving town the next day. Even my brother agreed that he was a really nice dude. I felt slightly devastated about the timing of all this, but comforted by the knowledge that I would have good fantasy-fodder for at least another year. (We could meet again at the next special occasion!)
I won’t pretend that things weren’t awkward at brunch the next morning with the other bar mitzvah guests. My mother, because she’s my mother, was aware of the situation even without me saying anything. (When we left she pulled me aside and said, “It was Phil, wasn’t it?” How does that woman know?) I hate to say it, but I guess this is one of those stories that just goes to show that you never know where or when you’ll meet someone awesome. The take home message? Personally, next time I go to a bar mitzvah, I’ll remember to shave my legs first.