How To Be An Amazing Kisser

by Zara Barrie

I will never, ever, ever, EVER forget the first movie kiss that knocked the wind out of me. I was in the throes of early adolescence at age 11, and my older sister had rented the '90s Gen-X classic "Reality Bites."

"Zara, if you want to know anything about LIFE, you have to watch this sh*t," my sister dutifully lectured, blowing a perfectly shiny pink bubble with her cotton candy-flavored gum. Clad in distressed denim and a ribbed crop top, she looked like the teen queen of 1998.

I sunk back into the worn leather couch as she popped the video into the VHS. I was ready to learn about LIFE.

I was into the movie from the jump. It had all the ingredients that make me go weak in the knees: an abundance of flannel, a sickly-looking, heroin-chic cast, a dismal climate and attractive, self-aware 20-somethings agonizing about "what it all means" over steaming mugs of coffee.

My interest really peaked during a scene I'll never forget: a young and gorgeously grunge 24-year-old Winona Ryder is feeling forlorn about her life and laments to an equally young and gorgeously grunge Ethan Hawke that she just "thought she was going to be something by 24."

Good ol' Ethan tells her she doesn't have to be anything "but herself at 24." A few simple words loaded with fiery subtext are exchanged, and BAM. Their sinewy, sunless bodies are backed up against the fridge, hands intertwined in one other's hacked-off hair, and baby, they're kissing.

But it's not a simple, polite brush-up against the lips. It's a hair-pulling, this-has-been-building-UP-inside-of-ME, I-want-to-soul-f*ck-you, can't-tell-if-I-love-you-or-HATE-you, you-confusing goddamn-ENIGMA sort of kiss.

It was kiss so powerful it cut through the static screen of the television. Its palpable sex energy permeated into the lonely little living room of the lonely little Connecticut suburb I called home.

It was a lightbulb moment for little 11-year-old Zara, to say the very least. In fact, it was far greater than a lightbulb moment. The black sky broke open, the sunshine tore through, and suddenly I understood the profound power of a KISS.

I didn't sleep that night, kittens. I tossed and and turned in my four-poster bed and fantasized about kissing the cool girl in my math class who never smiled at anyone except for me. I fantasized about kissing Winona Ryder in all her grunge-goddess glory. I fantasized about kissing the soft, pillowy lips of girls that I'd never met but had imagined in my adolescent mind's eye.

But of course I didn't really, truly, madly, deeply, understand the power of a kiss until I had my first meaningful kiss at age 14. It was a super secret, low-key kiss on the beach sometime between midnight and 2 am. That time of night is very powerful. There is a lingering stillness in the air. The bars are still packed with drunks, but the streets are still vast, and empty, and quiet. There's a sexy element of late-night danger, but it hasn't crossed into being overly dark, inebriated, sloppy territory yet.

I swear -- the best kissing time is between midnight and 2 am. There is a magnetic energy that hangs heavy in the air. Try it.

Before that fateful kiss, my kissing experience had been nothing but one-dimensional. It was pleasant but meaningless. Before then, I thought kisses were just the obligatory prelude to sex.

And oh, how wrong had I been! It was in that epic kiss that I learned the difference between a simple kiss and a mind-blowing KISS. I've been enamored with kisses ever since.

The other day I decided to break down what exactly it is to be an amazing kisser. How does one become an amazing kisser, and what are the qualities one needs to have?

Key into your senses.

Kissing is the most sensual experience on the planet. I mean, THINK about it: You're actively tasting the inside of another human being's mouth. You're breathing in his or her raw, animalistic scent. You're ~feeling~ the texture of his or her tongue with your tongue. It just doesn't get more real than that. And that's not to mention your hands are touching this person's body at the same time.

The only sense you're robbed of is your sight, because those eyes better be closed, honey.

PSA: There is nothing more jarring and off-putting than opening your eyes for a hot second and realizing that your kissing partner has been staring at you with wide, hungry eyes. It's uncomfortable and oddly violating.

That being said, close your damn eyes. When your eyes are closed, the rest of your senses are dramatically heightened.

So if you want to be an amazing kisser, you need to get lost in those senses, kittens. Really taste your kissing partner. Really truly feel this person's body with your hands. The kiss is not just in the mouth; it's in your bones. Your core. Your goddamn soul. Breathe in this person's scent like it's the last one you'll ever smell. You have to fully GO for it to be a good kisser.

And when you're fully tapped into your senses, you can get the f*ck out of your head and get lost in the moment. Kissing is all about saying "f*ck you" to your intellect and "f*ck yes" to the heat of the moment.

Have a little rhythm.

Think of kissing as a dance move. You need to be in sync with your kissing partner just as you would if you were getting down and dirty at the club.

Relax and let your tongues groove together. If one person is kissing at rapid-fire speed and the other person is going slow and steady, the kissing will feel bizarre and choppy. You have to find a flow that works for both of you.

Take the lead and guide your partner into a smooth, glorious rhythm. Don't fight the beat; embrace it.

Let go of control.

Confession time: I've noticed a pattern in my kissing life. People who are extremely uptight and high-strung are the worst kissers on the planet.

You know WHY? Because they have to be IN CONTROL of everything ALL OF THE TIME. People who feel like THEY HAVE TO BE IN CONTROL tend to hold a lot of tension in their bodies, including their tongues. They have a serious case of the stiff tongue, and kissing a person with a stiff tongue is no fun for anyone.

You have to let go of the ol' control in order to be a good kisser. You have leave yourself open and free to explore. You need a nice, relaxed, loose-limbed tongue. Don't worry about being a bad kisser or a weird kisser. Your partner will feel the tension in your mouth if you're worried. And tension plucks you right out of the moment.

Lose control and get weird. The best kisses I've ever had were a little weird. Weird is sexy. Uptight is the antithesis of sexy.

Be multifaceted.

When I first began my journey in kisses, I thought there were different kind of kisses: There was the sex kiss, which was hard and fast and passionate and wet. There was the tender, gentle, I-care-for-your-heart-and-sensitive-soul kisses, which were slow and steady. There were delicate kisses. There were polite kisses. There were ~dirty~ kisses. I didn't realize that a really good kiss embodies all of those elements.

A kiss should be multifaceted. It should have tender moments that transition into wild, hypersexual moments. And these moments become passionate, loving moments that circle back to tender moments. A kiss should tell a story. And, like any good story, it should have a beginning, a middle and an end.

Also, don't be afraid to feel out the story. Kissing is a great outlet for all those feelings you've been stuffing down into the depths of your body.

Be dirty, but also be clean.

Don't be afraid to get a little raunchy with your kisses. Don't be afraid to take a wild risk. Don't be afraid to emit beams of your sexual prowess through your mouth. Bite. Play with motion. Have fun!

However, it's imperative that you're ALSO clean. And by "clean," I mean take a f*cking shower, brush your f*cking teeth and spritz on some f*cking designer fragrance.

You need a base layer of ~clean~ before you can get ~dirty~, after all.

May your kisses be dirty and your body be clean.