Illustration by Johanna Thomé de Souza

Illustration by Johanna Thomé de Souza

Believe it or not,[*]. the French go through that same awkward, sexually anxious stage as the rest of us: adolescence. They need strategies, games and excuses to sneak that first kiss. Fortunately, they have oodles; some of the following popular strategies may sound familiar to you, others are uniquely French.

1. “On va pas payer le métro” — “Let’s not pay for the metro”

There’s various layers of subterfuge in this one. If you’re taking the metro or train with your love interest, suggest hopping the turnstile. Once aboard, if you see the inspector coming, whisper, “Quick, let’s kiss so he won’t bother us to ask for a ticket.” You then slobber on each other so passionately that, in theory, the inspector will feel too embarrassed to disturb you. (This won’t work — French ticket inspectors are never this easily detered — but that’s hardly the point.) You’ll roll together the romance of a first kiss and the adreniline rush of trying to get away with something. Bonus points: Claim there’s an inspector coming even when there isn’t, and quickly grab your partner.

2. Les bises au revoir — Goodbye kisses

As you probably know, the French kiss on both cheeks for greetings and goodbyes. (In some regions, les bises can even consist of three or four kisses on the cheeks.) It’s an opportunity to get close that is sorely missing in most anglophone cultures.

So. At the end of a night you’re chatty, you’re giddy, you’re looking into each others’ eyes, you’re saying goodbye, and you do les bises. You touch your darling’s shoulder, she touches your hand, and your “bises” are just a little closer to the lip region than usual. You look in each others’ eyes and — this is important — start blabbing again about something or other. Then, finally, you have to say goodbye again, and do les bises again. This time your lips accidentally — but definitely — touch as you’re grazing over to the other cheek. More timid couples may go in for three or even four rounds of les bises before the finally just suck and grope each other silly.

3. Action-vérité & tourner la bouteille — Truth or dare & spin the bottle

Where would teenagers be without these classic My-Very-First-Mixed-Gendered-Party Games? Choose between “action” (dare) and “vérité” (truth) to let your friends nudge you towards your future lover, or just spin the bottle and let chance decide. Since both young men and women in France (and especially in Paris) have significant difficulties in lowering their standards for each other, a few drinks and leaving things to chance can be very useful.

4. “T’as une miette.” — “There’s a little crumb on your cheek”

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A gambit for the timid of both genders. Spot an imaginary crumb on the cheek of your darling and — slowly, slowly — brush it off. If he or she seems receptive, add “Attends ! T’en as encore !” (Wait, there’s some left!), and attack it with your tongue.

5. La souflette — The backwards inhale

This one strikes me as fucking stupid for several reasons, but some French people swear by it. Put the lit end of a joint in your mouth VERY CAREFULLY and allow your love interest to take a drag on the other end. Perhaps your lips will touch! Or, perhaps you’ll burn your tongue, fall to the ground sobbing, and have no sensation in your mouth for weeks. How romantic.

 

 

*Yes, we know the French as irresistible charmers and also aggressive assholes — both descriptions basically denote the same behavior. But before they become these highly evolved romancers that give you a single look and te plaquent contre le mur pour un bisou (throw you against the wall for a kiss) they are, indeed, awkward fumbling teens.