I’ve written before about my first love, Scott. I was 14 when we met so one might assume he was also the bearer of my first kiss but, raised by boys way out in the country as I was, I never got the memo that girls should put any emotional significance into something so simple as two sets of lips meeting.
My first kiss.
He was a friend of my least-favorite brother who shared the same name. He was a bad kid like my brother, a little bit filthy all the time but this was hidden enough under the surface that you might not notice if you kept your eyes on his gorgeous black curly hair. At some point he may have asked me to be his girlfriend, or as we said then, to ‘go with’ him. I would have said yes because I always said yes, even when that little flutter inside me wasn’t a butterfly but in fact the thing we all have that tells us to say no. I was a kid; I didn’t speak that thing’s language yet.
Our first kiss was after school. In our small town both the Middle and High Schools were in the same building, and there were only two main exits: one for bus riders, one for those walking, being picked up by parents or heading to their own cars. He met me after my last class and walked me first to my locker, then out the main exit, pausing just outside the doors to say goodbye. I felt shy and embarrassed, but I was an obedient girl and as he moved in toward me I concentrated on his curls and he kissed me with chapped lips, quickly.
I thought it was over, but looked up to see him smiling and moving in again. This time when his mouth met mine his lips opened, so mine opened, and soon we were engaging in a sloppy, full-tongued consummation of each other’s mouths. I went along with it – what else could I do? – and hoped I was doing it right. I heard one of my classmates – my arch-rival since first grade who, coincidentally, also share the same name as my brother and this boy – walk by and scoff at us, and in this small noise of disgust I was shamed back into reality. I saw us from above: a skinny country girl in old clothes and stolen bowling shoes, a dirty kid in a fake biker jacket with a split knuckle and an ever-present acidic smell like piss or sweat or fear or rage, tongues awkwardly rolling around each other’s chins and upper lips, sometimes landing in each other’s mouths with a sound like sucking a puddle. I saw it all and I pulled away, wiped my mouth, said I had to go. He was pleased with himself, said he’d see me tomorrow.
In those days it was easy to break up with someone: just stop talking to him, ignore him in the halls, when he comes to your house under the guise of hanging out with your brother, stay in your room until you hear them leave to go burn tires in the gravel pits out back. If you find yourself in the same room with him, pretend you don’t feel his hurt stare. Eventually, he’ll get the hint and go away.
The cold sores he gave you, however, will stick around for the rest of your life.