A continuing series by former ER writer Shannon Goss on life as a modern Asian American hapa woman.
I have and always will kiss my parents on the lips. I also, of course, kiss my boyfriend on the mouth. Beyond that, I dole out hugs like candy on Halloween. Friends, family, even people I’ve just met will get a hug … whether they like it or not.
On occasion I have had platonic male friends greet me with a kiss on the mouth. They were usually the husbands of female friends and, in every case, 10 plus years older than me.
Generally, they would land a kiss the first time, due to catching me off guard, but then I would play defense, ensuring that all future kisses land on my cheek.
Once, I worked for a man who had a penchant for kissing women on the mouth. Despite my attempts to dodge and weave, he would still get me. At one point he kissed the back of my head because I turned so far away.
When I asked friends how they feel about the platonic lip lock, I realized that, like me, they’re not interested. One person went as far as to call such smooches “weird” and “gross.” I also learned that more than a few people have a “creepy uncle” who engages in such behavior.
As for me, three years had passed with no ambush kisses to speak of. But that was before I signed up for yoga classes. My motivation was simple: infuse structure into my fairly
unstructured days. The added benefit would be toned arms, not the worst thing in the world, and an hour and a half where I wouldn’t obsessively check my email. A win-win.
Before my first class I signed a waiver that, like with most waivers, I skimmed. Unwise? Perhaps. Efficient? Yes. I noticed a clause stating something to the effect of: in yoga practice
the teacher may touch you to help with the poses.
So I wasn’t surprised when, while in the corpse pose (despite it’s morbid name, it is my favorite pose), I felt the instructor straddle me as he massaged my waist. It felt non-sexual (and good), so I was okay with it.
But I was taken aback when, while stretching my back with the assistance of the instructor, I received what felt like a kiss on my neck. That’s normal, right?
Now granted, my eyes were closed and my muscles were stretched to the max (read: not of sound mind), so I wasn’t 100% sure it was a kiss, although I’m not sure what else it could have been.
A few days later I was recounting this story to a friend along with my doubt as to what really happened. He asked me the name of my instructor. After I told him he said with no hesitation, “I know him. I’ll save you the trouble. He definitely kissed you.”
Suffice it to say, I switched classes.