I can’t honestly recall my first kiss. I have vague memories of kissing a girl named Donna when I was about five, but I don’t suppose they count. Two or three years later I was kissed by Christa, an embarassed peck on the lips at a going away party she had for me. That one left me dizzy, but maybe it was just too much sun. Anyway, they were both too vague to really count.
The first fully intentional and anticipated kiss I ever received was at about age eleven. I was at a lavish birthday party for Debbie, once of my classmates, and as the evening wore on the numbers dwindled to the point where we could all go into her dad’s study and listen to records. The lights were low, there was much whispering and giggling, and then the empty Coke bottle came into play, beginning an American rite of passage.
I knew Debbie pretty well from band class, and I freely admit to a tremendous crush on her. She was darkly pretty, whip-smart, and a talented musician. I didn’t fully understand all these hormonal currents rushing through me — I hit puberty at nine, so I was pretty damned certain something was going on — but I knew that getting my lips against hers was the first step in the process. So the bottle was spun, and spun, and spun, and wouldn’t point at me. No kisses. Finally on one girl’s spin it did. She wasn’t my first choice, Debbie, but by now I had witnessed enough kissing that I knew the kiss was more important than the person.
Unfortunately, the girl who spun the bottle looked up, saw that it was me, and said “Ew, no! I’m not kissing him, no way!” Much hilarity ensued, all at my expense, until Debbie coldly informed the girl that if she didn’t kiss me she would tell everyone at school that the girl was making out with me all night. The thought of her utter social devastation so terrified her that she steeled her nerves and gave me a dry kiss lasting perhaps a nanosecond.
Shortly after that I decided maybe it was time to get on my bike and ride home. I still wanted to hook up with Debbie, but in no more than ten words she made it clear that we were just going to be friends. Distant friends. Acquaintances, even. It turned out not to matter, as her dad was arrested for money laundering the next year, so they moved out of state.