Off the Beat: Fist pumps and first loves

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Screw double rainbows, Rebecca Black and Greg Jennings' Madden performance. The greatest Youtube video of all time is only five days old, and already it's racked up a couple million hits.

"High five for first kiss" is a home video of sorts. Two little kids sit side-by-side on the playground before the little girl, Bowie, leans over and kisses her friend Elliott on the cheek.

And what ensues will make even the biggest commitment-phobic player's heart melt into a gooey puddle on the floor.

Bowie hugs Elliott. Elliott kisses Bowie's shoulder in response. She leans in before pulling away with a giggle and a fervent shake of her head. A few seconds later, Bowie grabs Elliott and firmly plants one on him. Girl's got moxie.

Afterward, Elliott is basically one fist pump away from the frat life. He nods like a champ, shouts and blurts out, "We kissed on the lips! Woo-hoo!" The two lovebirds high five and share another quick peck before being scolded by an off-camera parent.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I think this is just about the cutest manifestation of love I have ever seen. Maybe on par with Sam in "Love Actually" sprinting madly through the airport to chase after the girl he loves.

And this is when it hits me: sometimes it takes a child to make us see how easy love can be. I bet everyone remembers his or her first primary-school pucker. In the spirit of full disclosure, mine was behind a tree in kindergarten during a class-wide game of tag (even then I was a huge fan of the chase).

Those were the days; back when cooties were not only real, but contagious; when sharing your Chips Ahoy with a boy in the cafeteria was an automatic avowal of love. Back when hand-holding was an insurmountable hurdle-what if my hand gets all sweaty? Do you lace fingers? How long do I have to hold it for? Back when love was simple and certain and unfettered from the rules, games and second-guesses we now create for ourselves.

Don't be mistaken, I'm not saying I secretly yearn for a relationship-far from it. Anybody who's witnessed my escapades from the past year can attest to the fact that I enjoy (no, more like crave) the life of a wild singleton. It would take nothing short of a declaration of undying affection from Aaron Rodgers or Ryan Reynolds for me to abandon my cavalier, flirtatious ways. I just can't help myself; with so many boys and so little time, somebody has to play hard-to-get-and I've never been one to turn down a challenge.

While I may not believe in true love when it comes to my own life, there's nothing sweeter than helping or watching others find it. I'm like Cher from "Clueless" that way.

Even if I don't necessarily want to find it, I'm hopelessly in love with love. The kind that makes you smile and flush when you replay for the thousandth time everything that happened the night before. The kind that makes you go absolutely roller-coaster crazy with lust and exhilaration. The kind that Taylor Swift romanticizes between the teardrops on her guitar.

Love is simultaneously the greatest and most painful emotion a human being can experience. Mario Savio may have believed that freedom of speech is what separates humans from stones and stars, but I think it's really the freedom to love. To fall madly in love, whether once in a lifetime or over and over again.

I say "I love you" all the time-to the guys at Chipotle who don't charge me extra for guacamole, to a dog I pet while walking through Sproul Plaza. To my family and my best friends and to the view out my car window whenever I drive past my hometown beach.

But I don't know for certain if I've ever been in love. I think I meant the words when I said them. Or maybe I was just so eager to have someone to say them to. Either way, there was never any fear or hesitation. To take such an incredible leap of faith was wonderful enough. To hear him say it back made it all the better.

At one point in the video, Elliott asks Bowie, "Why did you kiss me?"

"Because I like you," Bowie says. No excuses, no games. She's na´ve and bold. She's laying her heart on the line. She utterly lacks that self-conscious fear of rejection that plagues us grown-ups (or near grown-ups). And really, why should she let that lead her astray? This is how she feels, and she's going to say it, Goddammit.

Now I know I play my fair share of games. It's just too irresistible not to. Hey, all's fair in lust and war.

But the real deal shouldn't require a manipulative upper hand. It shouldn't accompany liquid courage. It should be easy, like how it is for these two kids. It should be simple and straightforward and exciting.

And we should all fist pump with elation as soon as we find it.


Contact Annie at [email protected]

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