Sunday, October 7, 2007

The First Real Kiss

a personal essay:

New Year's Day 2000. All that talk of Y2K and nothing changes but the calendar. The traffic lights blink the way they always do and the clocks don't even skip a second. I wake to a weirdly warm morning, fog encroaching the streets. My headache is gone. Last night I downed two cans of O'Doul’s Non-Alcoholic Beer. Amid the tv glow of Dick Clark, I sipped and chugged, sipped and chugged, my sister cheering me on. By midnight I was in bed and I was wasted.

I'm fifteen years old, too short for my age, a high school freshman who really, really wants a girlfriend. This is my chance, this first night of the year, stars in the sky, the air cool but not cold. I squeak back and forth on this hammock, Molly Kentz beside me, our legs close to touching but not quite. Sometimes she ties her brown hair into a curly bun, but tonight it's straightened, shining, falling down her shoulders. We first kissed two weeks ago, round one in spin-the-remote, shy tongues turning wet and aggressive. She smiled afterwards. It was my birthday.

"Hey, Jenny," I say, breaking the silence, noticing my friend walking around the pool just in front of us, her eyes down, her body in shadows. She doesn't answer, disappearing back into the house. That's where they are now, about six of my friends, watching that stoner comedy Half-Baked. Out here, it's just Molly and me.

"Well, okay," I mutter.

She smiles.

I know what I want to say but the words are garbled in my throat. My lips quiver.

Finally: "Want to go see a movie on Friday?"

"Sure, sounds fun," she says with another smile.

And it happens. Tongues swapping mouths just because, no truth-or-dare, no spinning of remotes, just because. I look up at the black sky, the clustered stars, and then the second floor window. It’s them. They’re watching us; they’re not watching Half-Baked. You can’t make out their faces, but you know they’re laughing and going oh my God. Like celebrities in a cocoon, Molly and I kiss again. My friends are paparazzi, their cameras are pointed fingers and waving hands.

“Want to go inside?” I ask. “It’s getting cold.”

We slowly make our way around the pool and back into the house, our hands periodically crossing and caressing and separating once we walk into the ping-pong room. We find the paparazzi, cameras now in tow. Jenny is at the computer, the top left of the screen flashing with instant messages. The others are gathered around the ping-pong table. I try to suppress any lucky-me smiles. A blonde girl, Miranda, who denied me a date back in October, wants to talk. We sit at the top of the carpeted staircase, Molly giggling with two girls in another room.

“So, you like Molly?”

“Sure, yeah,” I say. “Yeah.”

“Are you guys going out now?”

“We are.” My eyes wander down the staircase. “I think.”

“Well alrighty then,” Miranda says, standing with a smirk. “That figures.”

I meet Molly at the ping-pong table. We sit atop it, my hand gracing the small of her back, down toward her jeans. She’s my girlfriend. Our legs are touching now, conversation swirls around us. I don’t know Molly too well; really, I don’t know her at all. But I’m fifteen years old, I got drunk off non-alcoholic beer last night, and I really like kissing her. My hand slips under the seat of her jeans. She’s my girlfriend.



Anonymous said...

another beautiful coming of age story Pure delight!

Delilah said...

Interesting to know.