Have you ever had an experience that changed the way you perceived an entire category of experiences? Before tonight, I’ve had this happen to me exactly twice. Once, when I was at my high school junior prom. I was out with my favorite people, on a date with a cute red head, and I was served the most amazing fillet mignon. Before that I knew what food tasted like, but I had no idea it could taste as good as it did that night with those people. That meal created a new gold standard for me by which I measure all meals. It has forever changed me.
The second time I had a life changing alteration of my perception was in fencing. Fencers in the US are either unrated or rated, once you are rated, you earn a letter, E-A. You can earn an “E” just by putting in the time and showing up. “D”s take a modicum of skill to obtain. I was a “C” and I had fenced enough B and A fencers to know 1) I was on the cusp of becoming a B, and 2) I could fathom the distance between myself and an A rating. One night at practice at Purdue, I had the opportunity to fence an Olympic fencer, who was in his prime 25 years before. I stepped on to the strip with all my “C” confidence, not expecting to win, but expecting to land a few good touches.
It was as if I didn’t even have a weapon in my hand.
No matter what I tried, attack, go on the defensive, focus on my feet, compound attacks, crazy unpredictable who knows what, I never even got close to scoring a touch against this guy in 50’s. That one experience opened my eyes to a totally different level of fencing that I had not understood to exist before that practice.
Tonight, I had a third such experience. I’m a good looking guy with my share of personality. As such, I’ve locked lips with a number of ladies in my time. Some kissers I’d consider to be good to great – with the right moistness of lips, the right tongue action, etc. Some were bad, too much teeth, weak kisses, bad breath, you know the kind. But tonight, I shared a kiss that was a level setter. Just the right pressure, the right slowness, the right height, and even the right hand/arm placement. A kiss that immediately made me excited about what’s going on. A kiss that simultaneously had me aware that we were kissing in a BART station, and not care about my surroundings all at once. A kiss so good that if drinks had gone bad, I’d still go out with her, just to have that kiss (luckily, drinks went great I think, so Yahtzee). I will never think about kissing the same way again.