Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This Magic Moment

Like most girls between the ages of 12 and 15, my notions of a first kiss were on the ethereal side.

Try as we might, ladies, to scratch and claw our way from the suction of the Pink Princess Hole (which, as I type this, comes across as somewhat perverse on a variety of levels), woven into the fabric of a young female's life are unicorn droppings and fairy dust. We didn't ask for these expectations, but there they are and, like Christmas glitter shimmering on your bathing suit in July, they show up in the most surprising places.

For myself, I never fully embraced the Princess role as a part of my life - if anything I tended to identify more with the Prince Charmings and Elven Sidekicks - but the fantasies I grew up on still whispered in my ears. They whisper in everyone's ears: A girl is born in a flutter of doves and at that moment she is charged to get married and have babies. All done without the slightest hint of oily discharge, hair, or BO. The End.

A more delicate nature is not an inherent handicap. When I talk about my personal definitions of femininity, my tone tends to marginalize those who choose the more classical approach to womanhood. (I think this tone exists elsewhere as well) Being "girly" is not bad in and of itself. It's the wholesale acceptance the Madonna, Whore, Princess and/or Chief Domestician roles and not considering more complicated options, that stirs the little bra-burning fires in my heart.

None of this is news. In a post-feminist world, us girls struggle with competing ideals. And even if we reject these labels outright they won't vaporize in an instant. We still define ourselves against them.

With all this whizzing around in the cultural cosmos, my half formed 15-year-old brain couldn't even give voice to this tension. Forces at work on my identity simply existed then and I didn't quite know what they were or even what questions to ask. All I knew was that my first kiss would probably be with my big crush, or longtime - but as yet unrealized - love. The entire event would culminate in a gently pristine caress of the lips and probably taste like Charm's Blow Pops.

That's not what happened.

My friend Z.,a full year older than I (and quite possibly the coolest human being I had ever seen up close. Think Madonna - the singer, not the "role"- circa 1985 in Desperately Seeking Susan.), invited me to spend the night. The pretense of this invitation was so the two of us could attend a cast party thrown for a spring musical at a neighboring high school. I was assured the Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill would be flowing free and that the chaperons were "totally cool" with the kids drinking in the basement.

Most of the night was unremarkable. There was a fire in the fireplace, exposed stone walls, shag carpeting, and a gaggle of mushy, brace-faced, spiral-permed teenagers (among whom, I was one...yeah...I had a perm.). The party itself was a pretty stupid affair. I took my place on the couch and heaved a sigh, simmering in boredom. My friends Z., C., and N. had abandoned me for some exciting make out sessions in the garage.

Then Brant sat next to me.

What drew him to me, I will never know. It could have been my big buckle clod hopper type shoes (which he remarked upon) or my chartreuse knit turtle neck. Whatever the reason, Brant, in his mustache and short sleeved button down (with a tie) had a serious "Some Enchanted Evening" moment and flew to my side.

A brief conversation transpired, the topic escapes me. He edged closer. I wondered where Z. was. Brant said something like "Oh...around." I stared into the fire. Brant told me about how he was attending the Fruitland Bible Institute. Huh? Then what was he doing here? And how long have we been sitting here?

I craned my neck to see where the hell Z. had disappeared to. Brant made his move, taking the bold opportunity to shove his tongue right into my mouth. Nothing could have been further from a Charm's Blow Pop.

The human mouth is an interesting place and when two people are attracted to each other, it can be fun to lallygag in and around there. When ambushed (and I must say, comPLETEly unprepared for the French Kiss experience) by a feather haired would-be minister, it's like eating warm bologna.

What. On. Earth.

I know the teenage years are brimming with strange oral encounters (i.e. meeting at the back top to make out with an arbitrarily chosen member of the opposite sex – or, sure same sex, couples passing gum from one mouth to another as sort of a little trick, I suppose), but this appeared utterly random. Who was this guy?

When the whole slobbery affair was over, I turned, stunned and stared into the fire. He put his arm around me. He bopped my nose with his index finger. Jesus. Were we a couple now?

If I were an alien, experiencing for the first time the mating rituals of the Homo sapien, I could not have been more baffled by what was happening.

The next few minutes are a blur. I escaped his gravity and headed for the kitchen. It turns out Z. and C. had witnessed the entire incident, and were laughing hysterically. I can’t say I blame them - I probably would have laughed, too.

“We have to go.” This was not a request. Z. (which is why, despite her laughter at my expense, I believe we were friends) put on her serious face. Exit we did, and rapidly.

That night, spending the night on the floor of Z.’s bedroom, I dreamt over and again of Brant’s slacked legs descending on me from above.

The next day, at a Saturday drama class, C. passed me Brant’s number.

“He really liked you.”

Needless to say, I never followed up. That was the last I heard of Bible Brant.

In a way, I’m thankful for Brant’s indiscretion. It shook the gumdrops and bubbles right out of my pie hole and, as a result, was able to enjoy future, more pleasurable kisses without dampening the experience with unrealistic expectations.

And as for those expectations, while I'm glad they were dispelled, I suppose I never would have even had a first kiss to begin with if anyone had warned me that it might be like eating warm bologna.


Crazypants said...

Why do you have to use phrases like "oily discharge" and "warm bologna"? You are an amazing writer, but could you take pains not to nauseate me?

-j-j- said...

The answer to that would probably be "No", for as you know I am cruel and unyielding.

And I have insatiable wanderlust.

Even as I typed the words "warm bologna" I knew this comment was coming.

"CP is going to barf," I thought.

I'll make the effort, but I'm not sure I can change my nature, darling CP.

Paul Rekk said...

Best part: "He bopped my nose with his index finger."

If I weren't currently rolling on the ground in a mix of laughter and dry heaves, that might actually be adorable for one horrifyingly inappropriate second.

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