Truth: Describe your first kiss. How old were you, where were you, what was his name?
In sixth grade, Shaun Cassidy was the dreamiest thing I could imagine, with his soft, blow-dried locks, pillow lips, and eyes large and limpid as a fawn’s. Every week, I would take a long bath, put on a dab of my mother’s perfume, and grab a pillow to hug between my knees as I watched him playing one of the Hardy Boys on t.v.. I had his poster next to my bed so I could kiss him first thing every morning and again at night. I would lie there with my face pressed to the wall, the tips of my budding breasts pushed against the plaster, imagining his soft lips and those long eyelashes fluttering against my cheek. In my dreams, he made me swoon.
One Saturday I was in my room experimenting with a curling iron and listening to the song “Afternoon Delight” on my record player. The lyrics seemed innocent enough, about going camping, maybe–catching fish, rubbing sticks and stones together, and watching skyrockets– but I knew that somehow it all added up to something sexy so I played it over and over, trying to crack the code. I ached to understand what it meant.
Robbie, the boy I thought I liked, had a baseball game that day and we had arranged to meet at the bleachers after the game. Wearing my hair curled into wings, a halter top, and tight bellbottoms, I stood in front of the mirror for a long time, turning this way and that, smacking my lip-glossed lips. I thought I looked almost as pretty as Shaun Cassidy.
When I arrived at the park, Robbie was standing in a clump of boys. When they saw me, they all started hooting and wrestling and throwing grass at each other but Robbie just stood there, calm and cool, with his skinny chest puffed up in his nylon uniform. He had a reputation as an experienced ladies man. They gave him punches in the shoulder and high-fives and scrambled off.
We went behind the dugout to where a dried-up creek bed lay hidden under a thick cover of bushes. I don’t remember the details of our conversation; he probably bragged about the game he’d just played and the girls he’d gone “steady” with while I gushed about Shaun Cassidy (trying to make him jealous ) and “Afternoon Delight,” (trying to sound sophisticated). But even as we spoke them, the words we said were trivial.
What mattered was the heady smell of hot sap, the sultry weight of the air under that low roof of tangled branches, the feeling of being hidden together in our own wild world where we sat on an exposed root and, as we talked, how the space between us quivered and hummed, how his thigh inched closer and closer until it touched mine, how amazed I was by the ropy hardness of him, how the fuzz on his upper lip glistened with sweat and he grabbed my hand with his calloused palm and kissed me–hard as plaster, rough as wood, hot as a rock in the sun–and then the shock of his tongue pushing against my teeth, hot and wet, muscular, probing in and filling my mouth with the thick tang of mustard, because it turned out he had just eaten a hot dog.
How perfect is it that my first French kiss tasted like French’s? Almost poetic.
But nothing compares to the first kiss. Nothing compares, but not for the sweet, romantic reasons I’d imagined. I went in with my eyes wide and realized that I could kiss without swooning into love like spineless doll with heart-shaped pupils. Mystery and fantasy dissolved and I discovered that kissing a boy isn’t as complicated as I thought.
That day in the creek bed, I learned that I could choose whom to kiss and then choose not to kiss them again. It was a powerful revelation.
There would be plenty of time for swooning later on.
Do you want to play, too? I promise it won’t hurt at all. Just say the word in the comment section below and I’ll give you a “truth.” Go to my place to see Averil’s answer and play “dare” with her.