A Kiss Is Just A Kiss: The 28 Before 28 Project

March 13th is an ordinary day to most people, but like any 13th of the month, it has potential to be fantastic. Today could also be an ordinary day for me, if I wasn’t thinking about the future and being mindful of what it could mean for me personally. March 13th marks 1 month until my 28th birthday, and for some reason this makes me want to embark on a project. I partly blame/was inspired by my friends, who tried to fart 27 and 29 times on each other’s birthday, in honour of their friendship. If you knew these friends (his blog & her blog) , it would make perfect sense, and not seem at all strange.

I was also partly inspired by this video that went viral regarding 20 strangers having their first kisses. I heard rumours it was staged, or is part of an advert, but I don’t particularly care. It sparked an idea in me, and that idea and the potential for personal growth and thought is what inspires me.

With that in mind, I’d like to present the following:

A Kiss Is Just A Kiss:
The 28 Before 28 Project

The title, along with the knowledge of the aforementioned viral video of strangers kissing, makes it pretty easy to figure out the basic concept of the project: I plan to attempt to find 28 strangers to kiss before I turn 28, which is one month from today.

Initially, I wasn’t sure how to define this project; I cannot call it a Social Experiment, as I am not testing a hypothesis. Instead, I will refer to it as a Social Exercise, since exercise can be defined thusly: use or apply (a faculty, right, or process), synonyms including use, employ, make use of or utilize. I certainly am utilizing society in this project.

This is an intimidating task, for many reasons, but the fact that it is a challenge makes it an opportunity for personal growth. I’d just like to point out that 28 is a very daunting number. I don’t think I’ve kissed 28 people in my entire life, and 28 is more than 3 times the number of sexual partners I’ve had. I point this out as an interesting juxtaposition in numbers, and not because this project has anything to do with having sex. Although I hope this project will be seen as sex positive, I do not plan on sleeping with anyone I meet while doing the project.

There are many reasons why I have decided to carry this idea forward:

-Everyone likes a challenge, and this certainly is a challenge.
-This exercise gives me a specific reason to act on inklings of attraction. This is intriguing, as I don’t usually engage this way socially. Usually, I am not 
conscious of my potential attractions, and on the occasions when I am conscious of an attraction, I very rarely act on it.
-Let’s just get this out there: kissing is great. It is fun and can be exciting if you are doing it in a healthy way. There are very few people who absolutely hate kissing (as a general idea), and the awkwardness and vulnerability of a first kiss is a beautiful experience that will be examined much more thoroughly than I ever expected to in my lifetime.
-This project gives me a reason to meet new people and challenge my ability to start conversations. As an introvert with social anxiety issues, this is huge. I haven’t quite figured out how I am going to approach people to ask if they would like to be part of my exercise, but I am going to have to step up my game in terms of starting conversations. I think everyone fears rejection, and I am going to have to get comfortable with people not wanting to participate (because, let’s face it, not everyone is going to think this is a great idea, especially if I don’t find out how to communicate the project in clear way).
-The opportunities of what could happen as a result of this project are endless. I could expand on this idea, but that sentence sums up the unfathomably large amount of variables nicely.
-A kiss really is just a kiss: it is not a social contract to go into further physical endeavors. Communication is a key aspect of this exercise, as it will help set expectations.
-I anticipate that this will be a rather vast learning experience, and will give me a lot of writing material.

I would like to put a couple bits of important information out there: I am not doing this to find people to hook up with, but if I were, there would be nothing wrong with that as long as there was honesty and informed consent. I personally want there to be completely no strings attached between myself and the people who agree to participate. I really do just want a first (and only) kiss from each person willing to participate.

An issue I would like to address specifically: consent. Consent is sexy. I, in no way whatsoever, want anyone to feel forced into participating with this project. If someone doesn’t feel good about giving it a shot, that is fine.

Another issue that should be addressed: sexual preference, and how has potential influence on this project. I prefer men as sexual partners. I have found woman attractive, and there have been a few that have made me think, “wow, if I fancied sex with a woman, I would want it to be with her,” but the fact is that that is not something I am looking for. However, this is not about sex. This is about kissing, and I am more than open to having ladies on my list of 28 kisses before I turn 28. This just reinforces that a kiss really is just a kiss, and if I find a woman that I am comfortable kissing, then she shouldn’t be excluded as a potential participant.

However, this doesn’t mean I want to kiss absolutely anyone. There are certain situations that make kissing someone an inappropriate choice. For example, if anyone with whom I work finds out about this project, I am not comfortable with them being a participant, due to issues of professionalism. Just because I am comfortable kissing someone outside my usual sexual partner pool does not meant I want to kiss everyone outside of that pool. I want to be safe, I want consent, and I want to be comfortable in my choices.

Concerns I have regarding this exercise:
-I fear social slut shaming, or a negative public opinion of the project, but that just gives me an opportunity to challenge those issues and present a sex positive mindset.
-Where am I going to to find 28 strangers to kiss me? I don’t want to rely on alcohol to give me liquid courage, and also don’t want alcohol to blur the lines of consent for those participating with me, so pubs/parties are not a great choice (not that this introvert goes to loud places often, anyway). I might have to be rather open with my definition of stranger, and ask people I’ve met before but don’t know well if they would like to participate. If there is anyone in Victoria, BC, reading this before April 13th who would like to help me, let me know.
-I want to document my experience, and that in itself might pose comfort issues for other people. I don’t want to take video or photos of us kissing. I don’t want to post an in-depth list of how each person rates as a kisser. At most, I just want to be able to list what number they are on the list, perhaps their first name (or simple [name withheld]), and where we met, then talk about my experience (and not in terms of graphic content, but rather what I took away from the experience intellectually).

Am I scared right now? Yes. I am a little freaked out. It is a big number and challenging personally in many ways, but I am going to try to take it one kiss at a time. I have 30 days to find 28 kisses. That is less than one a day. If I make it a goal to find one persona a day, I should be able to complete this exercise. I plan to make updates as frequently as I am called to do so.

Wish me luck.

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