Kisses Of Columbia

Written by

Valentine’s Day is about many things: romance, capitalism, anatomically-incorrect heart shapes… but most of all, kissing. First kisses can be sloppy, gross, fun, exciting, a weird mix, or all of the above. A few years ago, artist Sharon Pak released a collaborative project called Tell Me About Your First Kiss, and Deputy Editor Lila Etter was inspired. What follows are the results of many interviews with Columbia students, whom she spoke with at various locations on campus. We wanted to photograph people’s lips, of course, per the original project. But we couldn’t sacrifice anonymity for intimacy, so we photographed the locations where the interviews took place.


1. Sitting on Butler Lawn


What was your first kiss like?

I was in a pool. He was a family friend of ours from California. We had just met that summer, the summer before my freshman year in high school. It was kind of awkward, just logistically. Well, also awkward in general. I was sitting on the edge of the pool, and he was in the water. He tried to swoop his arm around me and grab me so he could kiss me, but I fell into the pool and under the water. When I popped back up to the surface, he tried again, and this time it worked. Sort of. It was surprisingly dry, despite us literally being in a pool.

What was your first kiss at Columbia like?

Oh, it was at Carman. I was on my second Keystone Light. Yeah. I was sitting slash lying down on a bed, and I just kind of rolled over and started kissing him. Him being someone who shall not be named. Before I knew it, he was kissing my neck. He was so good at it I didn’t even notice. The hickey the next day, though, I definitely noticed. The mother of all hickeys. *Takes out phone and shows photo*

Walking across the EC bridge

2. Walking across the EC bridge


What was your first kiss like?

The first kiss I ever had was at back-to-school night in the seventh grade, while the teachers were lecturing the parents. The boy I was *air quotes* dating – I hadn’t told my parents about him yet – he and I walked out to the backwoods behind our school. He looked at me, and the moon was shining, and he said, “I know you’re team Edward, but tonight I want to be your Jacob under the full moon.” And I said, “Oh, I could be team Jacob tonight.” Then he tried to bite me on the neck like a vampire. And then I said “Oh, I love you.” And he said, “I love you, too.” And I was like, “I am now team Jacob.” But then all of a sudden we realized that our parents were now looking for us, so we had to separate and walk back different ways. The only open doors I could find made it so that I entered the school right beside where my teacher was… and that’s when I realized that I had a bite mark on my neck.

What was your first kiss at Columbia like?

My first kiss at Columbia was actually really chill. I just went to this guy’s suite, and we talked a little bit about being first-years, and then we kissed, and it was really cute actually. Surprisingly nice.

Whispered over a desk at Avery

3. Whispered over a desk at Avery


What was your first kiss like?

It was mostly very wet, very awful. I was pretty much under the impression that I would never kiss again. Kissing was not for me, I thought. Yeah, it was unenjoyable. He had my name, though! So that’s cool, I guess. He was older and had a six-pack. That’s cool, too. Oh, and it was swiftly followed by my first make-out. Less cool.

What was your first kiss at Columbia like?

I couldn’t tell you *laughs*. I literally have no idea. I just know from the looks and how awkward the social interactions are, that it did happen. Literally no idea. Apparently it happened at a frisbee party. Which is fun, because I wasn’t aware that frisbee parties existed, and I haven’t been to one since.

Sitting on Low Steps

4. Sitting on Low Steps


What was your first kiss like?

Shit, it was awkward. It was in a parking lot, my freshman year of high school. Right outside my high school, and it was right after our homecoming dance had ended. It was really awkward because she was getting picked up — well, I mean, we were both getting picked up by our parents. So it was, like, that ten to fifteen minute-gap between when the dance had ended and before our parents showed up. It was just… not good. Bad. It was bad. Categorically so.

What was your first kiss at Columbia like?

Similarly awkward. See, I stayed celibate throughout NSOP. So then, the day after NSOP… yeah. The day after NSOP, as a conscious decision, I hooked up with a softball player. It was really awkward, it was bad. It was in Carman, in her room. And it was not good. I don’t think we’ve spoken since. Not because of that, obviously. But yeah.

Walking through Riverside Park

5. Walking through Riverside Park


What was your first kiss like?

Okay, so my first kiss ever. I was in eighth grade in a basement, with a bunch of people from my eighth grade class. Well, it was actually in the bedroom of the house, of this kid. This was before we went down to the basement and played Spin the Bottle. And they all dared me to kiss someone because they all knew I had never kissed anyone. But they made me choose who, so I just chose my friend, who has the most unfortunate last name ever, actually, which is [censored].

What was your first kiss at Columbia like?

My first kiss at Columbia was with a fencer… yeah. We met on COÖP and we were friendly there, and then we went out the next night. Flume was playing, and we were in some Carman room, and he kissed me.

Standing on the fifth floor of the Diana Center

6. Standing on the fifth floor of the Diana Center


What was your first kiss like?

In life? It was in ninth or eighth grade. I’m not exactly sure, but this girl rented out a club for her birthday, and it was the first time I’d ever been to a club. I was deeply unprepared for how much it was going to scar me, you know? It was with a random person, I mean, we’d known each other, but not well. We kissed. And it was not good. It was very sloppy. I didn’t know what I was doing. It was very much like a dance floor kiss. But I got creds from it, you know?

What was your first kiss at Columbia like?

Oh, my god! It was during the first week of school. Flirty, very charming. I think he was a libra actually. We went out some random night to a hookah bar, and we did hookah. But you know how it, like, dries out your mouth and throat? So that was weird. We made out, and it was okay, but I was really conscious of how dry my mouth was. And we tasted weird and pineapple-y, so that wasn’t great.

On the lawns outside Havemeyer and Chandler

7. On the lawns outside Havemeyer and Chandler


What was your first kiss like?

My first kiss was — is this just however I interpret the question? Okay so it was with someone I met at Middle East Peace Camp. Let’s start there. It was in the summer. It was at a beach near my house, down a hill. I met this boy who I had met during the summer. And I remember we swam out to this dock — or, not a dock. One of those little, floating, wooden thing, with a diving area, in this outdoor beach. We were inching towards each other, and he put his hand on my hand. We swam back and started making out, in public, on this beach. It was really public. Real public. It was the summer after 8th grade, so we had no shame. We were just making out with people all around us. Really inappropriate. Yeah. And now I go there all the time when I’m home, and I see where we made out every time I go there. And! I had another first kiss with another person there, too. It’s a very big beach for me in my life.

What was your first kiss at Columbia like?

It was with someone I was infatuated with, for almost exactly a year. I had liked this person from a couple weeks before the kiss, to a year later. It was preceded by… well, it was dramatic. The whole situation was dramatic. The actual kiss was not that exciting, but what I remember much more was the situation leading up to it. Oh my god, and it was also on a beach. It was a beach in a park, and we said that we liked each other. So there was some drama associated with that. But the night that we had our first kiss was in a John Jay single, and that was also kind of dramatic. It was kind of a sad first kiss. Everything that surrounded it was sad. Everything that came before it was sad and all that followed.

At a table outside John Jay

8. At a table outside John Jay


What was your first kiss like?

I was a freshman in high school and I was in the school play with this boy. He asked if I wanted to go to Dunkin’ Donuts — oh no, I’m revealing myself as a New Englander — anyway, yeah, so we got coffee and then he held my hand the whole way back. Which was cute, but then we got close enough to the school that I got nervous about classmates seeing us, because I was a self-conscious teenager. So I dropped his hand, and his response was to grab me, sort of spin me, and then plant one one me. It was unexpected, well-intentioned, and very wet. I was super conscious of my braces, that’s mostly what I remember. It wasn’t terrible, though.

What was your first kiss at Columbia like?

Ewwwww, it was during NSOP. Yeah, I hate it, too. But at least it wasn’t with a Columbia student, I guess. It was downtown at Webster Hall for NYC Welcome Week, with some random girl on the dance floor. Aaand now I’ve revealed that I’m bi. It was nice? I think? And that is all I’m gonna say about it.

Strolling down College Walk

9. Strolling down College Walk


What was your first kiss like?

My first kiss was in seventh grade. I was on family vacation, and I was with another family friend. We were at this big family dinner with her family, too, and we went off together. And she kind of leaned against the wall, and I kinda like fell on her. That was the kiss. And then after we just backed off, and we didn’t — wait, was it in sixth grade? I think so.

What was your first kiss at Columbia like?

My first kiss here was at a D Sig party, and I was dancing with this girl, and she was really aggressive. First she asked me what my sexuality was, and I was like, “I’m straight.” And she said, “okay,” and then just went for it and leaned in and kissed me, even though I was really drunk and I had, like, never said okay. Then I was weirded out, so I told her I had diarrhea and I left.

On the walkway outside Kent

10. On the walkway outside Kent


What was your first kiss like?

Wow, it’s been awhile since I thought about that. It was with some boy. Don’t get me wrong, he was nice. But I really have not thought about it — or him — for so long. We were in the parking lot of our school, after we went to a basketball game. Not a great date, but a pretty good kiss! Thinking about it now, yeah. For a first kiss, he knew what he was doing. Not too much tongue, not too wet.

What was your first kiss at Columbia like?

It was really good, actually. I say that because I bet most people’s were at frat parties or something, but I don’t know that for sure, of course. It was with my girlfriend, which is kind of weird when I think about it because wow, we’ve been together for so long. But yeah, it was nice. It feels strange talking about the details of a kiss when it’s someone you’re still with, ya know? So you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

Photos by Lila Etter, Rachel Bernstein

Tags: , , , , , , ,

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.