Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Do You Remember Your First Kiss?

I've been tempted to post a little excerpt or story I wrote some years ago in response to one man's query on a dating website. It's strange the questions you can get asked. But I was asked this very simple question and in my usual story-telling way I took off with it. The question? As I said very simple:

Do You Remember Your First Kiss?

New Year's Eve, 1969. I was seventeen years old and a senior in high school. Too bright and sharp tongued for my own good when I wasn't terminally shy. . .especially around guys. The more attracted I was to them the worst it was. Go figure, huh? So, no, I didn't date much. I didn't date at all. I never asked; I never was asked. How I wished I was slender and pretty like all the girls who did get asked. Yes, more than sweet sixteen and still hadn't been kissed.

I had kissed a guy. If you wanted to count Mike under the mistletoe in journalism class. But it was a peck on the cheek, not a proper job at all. Drat it! Mike knew I liked him, too. He tried to talk Bill into getting under the mistletoe with me. . .and Bill literally ran. Strange, isn't it? I realized later that Bill must have actually liked me and I've always wondered what kind of a kiss I would have gotten if he had had just a speck more courage. The vagaries of adolescence!

Unlike me, my brother had few difficulties with the opposite sex. At least, he had a girlfriend, even if he didn't have a driver's license or a car. Her name was Sheryl, a pretty and vivacious brunette. They went out a lot in spite of my brother's lack of transportation. How? Very simple. Sheryl's sister drove. Rita was older, out of high school, employed, and had her own car. Sometimes I suppose she had a date of her own but sometimes she didn't and Sheryl would talk her into driving anyway. I really don't remember how it worked; I just remember that it did. On occasion, I would be asked to come along. I enjoyed the company so I went.

Long time residents will remember Shoney's Big Boy Restaurant on University for two things: fresh strawberry pie and that old teenage ritual known as "cruising". Friday and Saturday nights were big nights. Saturday was the biggest. There were outside parking spaces and menus for curb service. It always seemed like the place was packed from sundown till closing. The ritual consisted of two phases and in no particular sequence. You either parked and ordered then started circling or you circled for awhile then parked and ordered. Today such behavior would land a teenager into trouble with the law. Endless circling of a drive-in restaurant for no other purpose than to look at other people, primarily those of the opposite sex. Our kids would probably think it really dorky or something but we enjoyed it. "Did you see him? Isn't he cute?" "I can't believe it!" "Don't you honk at him!" There are some birds who have a less elaborate mating dance and ritual.

It was New Year's Eve. No place to go if you weren't invited to a party and , not being in the partying crowd, what party? I was asked if I wanted to go along with them. Sure, why not? As I said I enjoyed the company and it did get me out of the house. We went to Shoney's on University, me and Rita in the front seat, my brother and Sheryl in the back seat.

I can't remember if we went around a couple of times before we parked and ordered or not. It was really immaterial. We parked, drank our cokes, and watched other kids drive around. It might as well been Saturday night. I remember the place as being very busy.

Rita was in a devilish mood or something. She started waving back at some of the guys as they drove around. In particular, she waved at two guys in a green Volkswagen bug. "Rita!" "Don't worry. I know what I'm doing." They waved back enthusiastically. They drove around again and again. Rita waved; they waved. They honked the horn at us. I think we all laughed.

After they disappeared around the back of the restaurant for what must have been the sixth or seventh time Rita decided it was time for us to bug out. She pulled out and we started south down University. In back of us was a green Volkswagen.

"Rita, they're following us!"

"I know. . .I know!"

I was terrified. Followed by two guys we had never seen before in our lives. Rita pulled over into a parking lot and the Volkswagen followed. She got out of the car and approached the two guys who got out. Both were tall and , in my teenage viewpoint, grown men. They had to be in their early to mid twenties. More Rita's age than mine. One was dark headed and the other lighter but not a true blond. Both were attractive. They smiled and talked with Rita for a few minutes then she got back into the car as they got into theirs. She started up the engine.

"Their names are Rick and Gary. They're just driving through town and looking for some company. I invited them to the house."


Rita and Sheryl's folks had gone to a New Year's Eve party and wouldn't be home until well after midnight. The house was empty. I think I groaned. Rita assured me, in her best ‘I can handle this' way, that she would set down the rules or ask the guys to leave. We'd simply listen to music, talk, have a coke or two, and maybe dance. They seemed like perfectly nice guys. The dark headed one, Rick, was hers. The lighter-headed one, Gary, was mine. I gulped. My own brother sat silent in the backseat with Sheryl.

We got to the house and Rita did set down the rules in a matter of fact manner that brooked no nonsense. Some things were NOT going to happen so they might as well know that from the get go. They had to leave before midnight. No one was allowed beyond the bathroom in the hall. Yes, it sounded kind of tough but that was Rita.

Rick was the talkative one; Gary was really very quiet but not shy. He talked more than almost silent me. I don't remember what we all talked about. The conversation is too old in my memory for that. But they were essentially nice guys. We put on records and when those ran out, we simply turned on the radio.

I had danced with at least one guy before so Gary asking me to dance was only slightly scary. I was already at my full height of 5'2" so my hand didn't reach his shoulder. It didn't seem to bother him at all. Was he a good dancer? I didn't have much experience to base an opinion on at the time but he certainly seemed at ease with the basic concepts. He didn't hold me out at arm's length or step on my toes. He actually led and kept with the music. And the music did what music has always done to me. I relaxed into it and before I fully realized it I was being held very close indeed but not tightly. It was very nice. He smelled good, too.

How long we danced I don't remember. Long enough that resting my head against his chest felt right. I remember wanting to say something to him or tell him something so I raised my head. I never got a chance to say a word. I was being kissed. . .very warmly. . .very throughly.

A surprise? It was a surprise. I was too young and too naive to expect it. It caught me totally off guard. I don't remember freezing up or making a sound. I don't remember what I did except that it went very well. I wasn't keeping a journal then. If someone had asked me the next day I probably could remember.

Was he a good kisser? I had no basis for comparison at the time. . .but it felt perfect to me. Me? I have no idea except that after it broke off I retreated for a minute back to my previous position with thoughts like "Whoa!" "Wow!" then "Did that really just happen?". I raised my head again and it happened again. . .and again. . .and again.

My brother remarked later that he looked up from the couch where he was necking with his girlfriend and thought to himself, "Hey, that's my sister!" then thought again. "Oh, well, I guess she has the right to be a girl same as any other." I found his observation funny. First time in our lives he ever had a ‘protective' thought then realized it was OK for little sister to like being kissed. He went right back to Sheryl.

Gary never suggested sitting down. We kept dancing. . .slowly. He never pressed for anything more than warm, deep kisses that curled my toes. I've sometimes wondered if he had known the depth of my inexperience if he would have tried but I don't think so.

Eventually the guys had to leave. How Gary and I said good bye is something else I don't remember. I remember Rick saying they were coming back through town and taking Rita's phone number. I remember looking forward to seeing them again. I was disappointed, of course, but I don't recall the disappointment being intense or perhaps I've simply gotten over it.

Yes, it was dangerous. My mother would have had a fit. Picking up strange guys at Shoney's? Yes, we were lucky. I was lucky. Gary was nice, sweet, and not pushy or demanding at all. I could have been in really deep trouble really fast. I've sometimes wondered what would have happened if they had come back. I've also wondered from time to time where Gary was, what he was doing, and how he viewed that New Year's Eve. I never told him that he was the first guy to ever kiss me. How I kept from doing that I don't know. A guardian angel, perhaps. I wonder if he remembers me as warmly as I remember him.

Just an added aside: Strange though it may sound, I can't remember the name of name of my first date. Go figure, huh?

No, I wasn't that long in my response. I was quite short actually but I wrote the story down and kept it around. Do you remember your first kiss?

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