In the summer before eighth grade, Chelsea Harper told me that you were only a good kisser if you could unwrap a Starburst in your mouth. By the end of August I’d yet to kiss anyone (no worries) but could fold the laundry of an entire fruit punch-flavored taffy pack. Not to brag, Chelsea: by the time it finally happened I felt prepared. I knew, “I got this.”
There are various tricks that set us up for such encounters over the course of our young lives, like how to give a hickey using the inside crooks of our own elbows (a useless skill) and how to best judge your breath by licking the top of your hand. So much is learned in dorm rooms, high school and camp. Of course, once college ends, so too does any informal romantic education.
…Which means it’s possible you’re currently twenty-something and can’t remember the last time you ate a Starburst that wasn’t in a glass bowl collecting office dust, refilled once a year by someone named Jan. It’s possible you haven’t had a make out with a lovely stranger in a while, that you’re unsure of what to do with your mouth (relax) and don’t know where to put your hands. Ain’t no thang! When it comes to summer spit-swaps on the dance floor with a potential fling, I’m nothing if not here to advise.
Step 1: Exit the dance floor.
First: Learn the acronym
It’s impossible to DFMO if you DK what DFMO means: Dance Floor Make Out. See? Easy already.
Note: DFMOs largely occur with A) someone you just met or B) a previously-platonic friend.
Then: Assign someone to be your DFMO partner
Easier than you think. Lock eyes with someone you determine is a babe. Commence dancing. Wait until the best song ever comes on. Shout (because it’s going to be loud), “Wanna make out?” Nine times out of ten, he or she will agree. It’s the music, man. Don’t worry about gum. Here’s where the real tips begin.
DFMOs are the most fun in the exact moment they’re initiated, then quickly decline. There are usually too many voyeurs, too many fellow jostling bodies and too many spies on the floor. Just as you would with corporate hoo-ha email, suggest taking things “offline.” The key is to go somewhere that won’t be as visually terrifying once the harsh bar lights go on. (Who knows where your eyeliner is and who knows where he got that haircut.)
Might I suggest the nearby beach? Somewhere directly outside?
Step 2: If you cannot, consider all possible nearby cameras. Just consider.
Snapchat is a disloyal, tricky motherfucker. Trust no phone.
Step 3: Accept the sweat.
It happens. And it’s likely happening — to both of you. You’re humans. You’re also both sharing saliva, so.
Step 4: Prepare your hair but don’t apologize for it.
Tie your hair up before phantom strands that seem to stem from the back of your tongue distract you both with a fun game called, “Hold on, I have hair in my mouth.” But like sweat happens, hair grows. If you can’t find a barrette, don’t say sorry.
Step 5: Hydrate frequently before, during and after. Water isn’t just the essence of wetness — it’s the essence of good breath.
It’s also a cure-all for cotton mouth and beer burps.
Step 6: After 20 minutes it’s time for a friends check.
Have they left? Where are they? Do you have your keys? Are you sharing your location on iMessage and if not, have you dropped a pin? Yes, you’re an adult — you make your own decisions. But DFMOs, while fun, should be approached with appropriate caution; the best protection, besides dental dams, is the buddy system.
Step 7: You can exit your make out without excuse or explantation. Whenever. You. Like.
No matter how far it’s gone or how awkward you fear it might be to stop and make small talk, the moment you’re done, so is your pucker partner’s participation with your face.
Step 8: If you want an excuse, say your roommate’s locked out.
Or suggest getting pizza.
Step 9: Swap numbers by texting one another your names.
I’ve seen flings, romance and true love bud from a great DFMO, but fate can falter if a number’s off or a contact doesn’t save. Don’t risk a good thing by not securing the phone ring.
Step 10: Remember the cardinal rule: have fun, be safe.
And tell me all the details in the morning.