Pillow Talk

July 3, 2013
By , Cincinnati, OH
“We’re doing the kiss today.” The director, Mr. Newman, said those five words that made my stomach fall all the way to the floor. I had known this day was inevitable, but I didn’t know it would be today. It was like the first day of school. I knew it was coming up, and I was kind of excited about it. But at the same time, I wanted to avoid it for as long as possible.

For many actors, stage kisses only mean something to their characters, not to them personally. It’s more a pretend kiss than a real, meaningful kiss. My situation was a little different. Not only was this the first time we were doing the kiss for the scene, this would also be my first kiss…period. I liked to imagine my first kiss would be with someone I had known more than two weeks. Jan, my co-star was a senior with long, curly blond hair. She was about 5’6, and while she was still attractive, she almost looked like a Who from a Dr. Seuss book. Outside of rehearsal, I had only talked to her two or three times. Our conversations went like, “Do you have any gum?” “No, sorry.” As well as knowing Jan for two weeks, I also imagined my first kiss would take place somewhere a little less…public. After Mr. Newman said we were going to do the kiss, my face felt like it was turning purple. I nervously laughed a little and turned around trying to pull myself together so I could get through it without passing out. As if I wasn’t nervous enough, there was a room full of twenty girls who were screaming, laughing, and pulling out their phones to capture the moment!

After what felt like an eternity, we started the scene again with no pauses. I gave my line: “Love isn’t an opinion. It’s – it’s a chemical reaction. We’ve never even kissed.” Jan said hers: “All right – let’s check it out.” As we leaned in, I noticed she closed her eyes. I kept mine open so I wouldn’t miss anything. We touched lips, pulled back, and in a split second it was over. I scrambled through the rest of the scene and stumbled off the stage with my face looking like a lobster. One of the guys high-fived me like, “Congrats, way to go!” I responded to it with a wimpy, Leave me alone - Almost everyone in the room is already staring at me - I don’t need any more attention - high-five. I sat in my seat like nothing had happened, but I was thinking, “What just happened? Did I just do that? What did it look like? Should I text my friends? Am I still red from that humiliation?”

After a while, the discomfort seeped away. I thought it was all over. I stopped slouching, and there was nothing else to worry about. I was wrong. It later hit me that we would have to kiss fourteen more times before Pillow Talk was over. Not only that, Jan’s boyfriend, Mike, a 6’5 quarterback who I saw every day in the halls at school, would be coming to the show. I tried my best not to think about it.

As the cast impatiently waited for Mr. Newman, with his frameless glasses and a very noticeable toupee, to give us notes about our performance, I imagined he would say something like, “You need to work on it a little,” or, “You looked a little uncomfortable.” Something simple like that would get the message across perfectly. Instead he announced, “I get more action from my mother-in-law.” Everyone in the room started dying of laughter. It was even more embarrassing than the first kiss. I was laughing hysterically because I felt it was probably more appropriate than panicking or weeping. Once again all eyes were on me as my face glowed. How can you make a kiss better?
One thing that was satisfying about this whole situation was that Jan and Brad Ryan, the other male lead, faked their kiss. In the script, it says Brad “kissed Jan forcefully.” Before going in for the kiss, Brad would have to grab Jan’s head, put his thumbs over her lips, and forcefully kiss his thumbs. Jan was too creeped out by Brad to actually kiss him. It might have been his parted, greasy hair. Most likely it was his garbage breath. Even though I was embarrassed by people watching, laughing and Mr. Newman’s comment, at least I wasn’t as creepy as Brad.

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