Kiss this, UChicago

Spring break brought with it daily updates from each of the fifteen colleges I applied to, including several admission decisions. My running total as of right now is two waitlists and three acceptances, results I am more than happy with. Yet something doesn’t quite sit right with me about those two waitlists, one in particular. The University of Chicago was one of my top choices, yet with all the acceptances handed out to other kids who may or may not have deserved the precious spot, they didn’t have enough room for me. And that’s fine. What I can’t seem to get over, however, is that the essay I wrote to gain admission is, pardon my English, DAMN good. So in an attempt to salvage and recycle the piece, of which I am very proud, I am sharing it with you here. Because this is my blog. Take that, UChicago.

“Essay Option 4: “…I [was] eager to escape backward again, to be off to invent a past for the present.” -The Rose Rabbi by Daniel Stern

Present: pres-ent 1. Something that is offered, presented, or given as a gift

Let’s stick with this definition. Unusual presents, accidental presents, metaphorical presents, re-gifted presents, etc. – pick any present you have ever received and invent a past for it.

I once knew my current boyfriend Andrew as that kid with big lips who did stand-up comedy at the coffeehouse, but over the past two years he has transformed into that man with big lips who does stand-up comedy all over the Midwest and who drops me off on my doorstep after each dinner date, leaving me with the seemingly simple gift of a light kiss on the forehead. When analyzed, however, there are fairly complex pathways, both psychological and physiological, that intertwine to produce such an action.

Rarely are kisses shared spontaneously between complete strangers, save for holidays with a kissing element, such as New Year’s Eve when the clock strikes twelve and the ball drops, along with inhibitions, or Christmas, when mistletoe is flocked to by young couples whose relationships have just hit the halfway mark at a whopping two week duration. No, it takes time to build up a relationship with another person to feel comfortable enough to share with them an instantaneous moment of extreme affection. The mind must consider several elements before giving the green light to continue with the gesture.

Firstly, the relationship must be assessed to confirm whether or not a kiss is appropriate. Generally complete strangers should not be kissed, for obvious reasons. Since the kisser in question is Andrew, who is a heterosexual male, other males are ruled out as kiss recipients as well. This leaves females, a group to which I belong, yet which must be narrowed down further due to the varying levels of acquaintance within the massive category. As dictated by cultural expectations and societal norms, kissing is seldom appropriate between two individuals who are not currently nor plan to be in committed relationships. Thus, all females but one are eliminated from the pool of potential kiss recipients, leaving only myself, the kisser’s girlfriend of two years. A kiss between us would be entirely befitting due to the amount of time we have spent together and the affection we have for eachother. His mind gives the go-ahead.

Andrew has decided that I am a suitable candidate to receive a gentle peck on the forehead, yet the environment must be evaluated to ensure that no unwanted attention is garnered from the act. His mind must now take into account the amount of attention currently focused on either of the two of us, and by whom. Perhaps while he is standing onstage at a comedy club in the middle of delivering a joke is not an appropriate time to dart over to my seat in the crowd and share a surprise smooch. Family dinners are also inappropriate due to the emphasis on maintaining an equilibrium of communication between all parties. It would be alienating to everyone else at the table if Andrew were to give me any additional attention, not to mention uncomfortable for them to witness such a display of affection. On my doorstep in the dead of night is a far more suitable location for such an exchange.

The kiss has passed both psychological checkpoints and is ready to be translated from a well-rationalized desire into an tangible, physically manifested gesture. The physiological pathway of a kiss contains no grey area, unlike the psychological development of the action. Once Andrew decides to make the kiss occur, unless he suffers from a neurological or muscular disorder that I am unaware of, the rest is fairly straightforward. The primary motor cortex, the region of the brain responsible for initiating voluntary movements, generates neural impulses that travel down to the spinal cord. These impulses are then passed on to the motor neurons that control the orbicularis oris, the sphincter muscle around the mouth. When these neurons generate an action potential across the membrane of the muscle cell, the sarcomeres of the muscle contract, causing the muscle to shrink. The result of this interaction is Andrew’s puckered lips, awkwardly hovering nearly two feet away from my face. Several of these neuromuscular pathways are involved in the kissing process to ensure that the peck lands on its intended target. Andrew must lean down to reach my forehead, stimulating adjustments in his neck, back, and potentially legs, should he choose to shrink by bending his knees.

After all is said and done, I have received a gentle, heartfelt symbol of affection, which causes my cheeks to flush and a smile to spread across my face, which are the results of the instantaneous stimulation of hundreds more pathways and interactions.. But for now, we’ll just sum it up by calling me one happy girl.”


Think I should have been admitted? Or was I rightfully waitlisted? You can email me at [email protected], or tweet at @sweeeeeens. Thanks for reading!