This entry was written in contemplation of the novel I just finished working on (I know. I seriously just dangled a preposition there). The kiss to which I refer has no legal consequences, per se.

There are first kisses. And those are great. But then there are those first kisses that are so fantastic they actually literally leave you breathless. They are intense and magical. They are truly silver screen worthy because they are the real-life embodiment of the Hollywood kiss in all its glory. They are (what I’ve come to call) the “movie moment kiss”. And I’ve had one or two in my lifetime.

I gave a ton of thought (for my book) to what makes a kiss a movie moment kiss. I’ve come up with some RULES:

1) It must be a first kiss. Once you’ve kissed someone, there is no second chance to have a movie moment kiss. This is not to say that subsequent smooches can’t be breathtaking. But they will never be that amazing moment of magic (two moments, actually, but I’ll get into that in a minute). This includes the first kiss after a break up or extended absence. I know it’s harsh, but these phenomenal kisses are not amazing because they are handed out like candy or because the rules are lax. They are amazing because they are so damn rare.

2) There must be uncertainty about whether both moments will actually happen (the “moments” are defined below). This means there cannot be an understanding, whether spoken or unspoken, that the kiss will happen. There can, at most, be an inkling on the part of each party that the kiss will come to fruition. Foregone conclusion = no movie moment.

3) The stars must align. There are so many things that can ruin a first kiss. Tiny, insignificant, ridiculous things. If the timing is off by a hair, forget about it. If lip placement is off by a hair, forget about it. Both people go to the left. Teeth clink together. Noses bump. It’s awkward, not magical. Choreography is key. One helpful hint is to dance with the eyes. Look the other person in the eyes, then look at their lips, then into their eyes, then down at their lips, and so on like a ground crew member marshaling a plane into the hangar. And although I generally think of super slow movement when I think of movie moment kisses, they don’t have to be. The ones where the people inch in toward each other (and maybe there’s a brush of the hair or fingertip across the lips) are excellent. But the ones where there is some haste look like they work too…as long as everything has fallen into place.

…and furthermore…

There are two moments involved in the movie moment kiss:

1) The instant of physical contact. It’s miniscule. It’s the time between the match being stricken and the flame appearing. Literally. In this instant, uncertainty vanishes, but only as to the question of whether or not there will be a first moment. There is still one question unanswered…

2) The return kiss. They kiss you back. They do not pull away. They commit to the moment.

Even after the physical plane is breached, there is still the potential for disaster. The spark has ignited the fire, but immediate extinguishment is always possible. All the tension in the prelude has built to this moment. The other person, for whatever reason, whatever fear or reluctance, could tear you both out of the moment so easily. They raise their hand and place it on your arm or chest. They gently push. Their lips separate from yours, and it all falls apart as you are jolted into this harsh reality.

There is no recovery from the push away. In fact, in New Mexico, if you continue to kiss the person in a rude, insolent or angry manner, you can be criminally charged with Battery. Now there’s a mood killer. Or, if there is some other lame event outside the control of either party (car horn, phone rings, earthquake, etc.), that can have the same effect. So setting is key too.

But when all the pieces come together, and the moments happen, the world disappears and there is magic. For a moment.

Not all first kisses can be fabulous. Some, as we all know, are dreadfully awkward or even icky. But Mark Harmon explained it best in one of my fave movies ever, Worth Winning, when he said, “There wouldn’t be great sex if we didn’t have awful sex.” We must accept the good with the bad, and even be grateful for the bad, because without it there would be no good. Likewise with the kiss. Unfortunately, rarely will they be worthy of Hollywood.