Technically my first kiss came from Scott Sullenger when I was 14. I was a 9th grade D-lister and he was a pudgy 10th grade band geek who wore striped polo shirts buttoned to the neck and black freak boots.
When he asked me out, there in front of the band hall between first and second periods, I stood there like a drooling idiot, imperceptibly nodding for no less than 30 seconds. I remember that moment pretty clearly. I was a young doe caught in the glare of my very first “Will you go out with me?” Poor Scott. He stood there with his eyebrows raised and his chin tucked, I’m sure taking my silence as a hesitation or possible rejection. Finally I got my head bobbing enough that he could read my nod and we became a couple.
The first time we kissed, it was on the front sidewalk at my house and he timed it with his big black plastic calculator watch. I don’t remember what the parameters of the kiss were supposed to be, but I do remember thinking, “This is stoopid.” He was no Casanova, that’s fer sure.
Sometime in the next few months, I went to visit my dad in Killeen. Across the street from his house lived a redheaded Opie Taylor look-alike named Eddie. I had met Eddie on previous visits and he had treated me like a pariah because I was a GURL. But now we were 14, he was a cute football player in a net jersey, I was a girl in need of some interesting stuff to put in my diary, and hormones were running the show. Things were different.
One night Eddie’s parents invited all of us over for dinner. I remember that we had Yaki Mandu and it was to die for. After dinner, the adults pulled out the dominoes and, in a haze of cigarette smoke and raucous adult laughter, shooed us kids outside. Eddie had a fort in his backyard that all the little kids loved. It was a shallow hole dug out of the dirt, much like a WWI trench, and it was covered with a big piece of corrugated tin. We hung out in there for a bit, with our necks bent and our legs cramped, arguing about what we should DO. Finally, someone suggested hide and seek. Eddie volunteered us two big kids to be It for the first round.
Base was Eddie’s garage. He led the way inside, hollering “1! 2! 3!...” while the little kids scrambled for the best hiding spots. It was dark and I was tingling with anticipation of what might happen, and fearing a big let down. I leaned my back up against the wall while he was hollering at the little kids and tried to look alluring, yet aloof. He wasn’t fooled. He put his palms flat on the wall above my shoulders, leaned in so close that our bellies were touching, and kissed me like he knew what he was doing. I had never, ever been that close to a boy before and I thought I would MELT.
We spent the rest of the night in his garage making out and hollering “Ready or not, here we come!” every so often to keep the little kids at bay. I don’t recall if we ever really looked for any of them or not!
I stayed at Dad’s a few more days, but Eddie had to go to San Antonio the next day to visit family. While in San Antonio, he sent five or six letters to my house in Dallas full of gushy “I love yous” and “I miss yous” and even threw in a proposal or two. They beat me home and my mother, seeing the hearts around my name on the envelopes, was alarmed and opened the letters. then proceeded to flip right the heck OUT. It was ugly. She called Dad and made a big scene. In one of those letters Eddie included a $2 bill adorned with “Eddie + Betsy = Love 4ever.” I still have it somewhere.
I guess I was still dating Scott, because when I got home, I tried to kiss him like Eddie had kissed me, but it just did not work. He was too rigid. We broke up soon afterwards.
I know that Scott was technically my first kiss, but Eddie was my first REAL kiss and he’s the one I think of when the topic comes up.
I never saw Eddie again. We wrote back and forth for a couple of weeks, and that was it. Last I heard he was married with a couple of kids, selling cars or something equally as exciting.
I just printed out the recipe for Yaki Mandu and I think I’ll damn the diet and whip some up this weekend in honor of my impending 40th birthday, and think about that night in Eddie’s garage.