Writing prompt: Tell us about your first kiss
The very idea of a first kiss evokes a nostalgic innocence. As jaded adults, we look back fondly at our own bumbling awkwardness or the memory of the fluttering of butterfly wings in our stomach. Or we recall our confusion about where our noses were supposed to go. It’s usually a sweet memory. Maybe a little embarrassing, but generally sweet.
I got my first kiss was from a boy when I was in the 7th grade. We were on a church field trip together – a night outing to the beach in Santa Monica. I have no idea why we were there. In retrospect it seems rather odd to bus a bunch of hormonal teenagers and let them loose on the beach at night, but that’s what they did.
I recall walking along the beach with a couple of my girlfriends, whose names and faces are long forgotten. We were probably sticking together because we had only recently graduated to the teenage classes in Sunday school. The older kids still seemed a bit intimidating, and a heck of a lot more mature than our 12 or 13 year old selves. But that didn’t mean we couldn’t develop crushes or fantasize about some of the cute older boys. One of those boys was Mike Verhoff. He had longish dirty blond hair and sad dark eyes. He was an older man – in ninth grade to compared to my seventh. I thought he was one sexy motherfucker (or in my 7th grade parlance, “a total fox”). Unfortunately, he had a steady girlfriend. Her name was probably Debbie. So I simply admired Mike from afar. Until that fateful night at the beach, we hadn’t even spoken to one another.
So, I was walking along the water’s edge with my girlfriends and up walks Mike Verhoff and starts walking along side us, chatting us up. Next thing I know, Mike grabs my hand and we continue walking, talking. Soon, his arm is around me. I take a chance and put my arm around his waist. He pulls me closer. My girlfriends get the hint and they start walking faster, leaving Mike and I alone.
We sat down on the sand. My teeth were chattering – it may have been nerves, an ocean breeze or both – so he was quite the gentleman and offered me his blue Pendleton shirt. And while wrapping the shirt around my shoulders he went in for the kiss. It wasn’t awkward and bumbling. This guy clearly knew what he was doing. All I had to do was follow his lead. We ended up laying on the beach making out for a few minutes. I don’t remember how long it lasted. It was just kissing. Lots and lots of kissing.
Eventually, we got up and walked arm in arm over to the pier to join the rest of our group. I remember standing with my girlfriends and Mike, with his arm around me, just staring at the water. And that’s when she came over. Debbie. His girlfriend. She tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and quickly dropped his arm from my waist. With a flick of her head, she motioned for him to follow her a few feet away. I couldn’t hear what they were talking about, but it didn’t take long before they were in an embrace, followed by a long kiss. And without saying a word to me, they walked off arm in arm.
I don’t remember what I was feeling. My guess is I was confused, embarrassed. But, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I had been used. Mike and Debbie probably had a fight, and to get revenge he grabbed the first vulnerable girl he could find. I was an easy mark – young, insecure, and probably a bit of an outsider. My parents didn’t go to church. My neighbors dragged me there. So, there would be no angry father to contend with.
For the next few weeks when I went to Sunday school, I held onto a hope that Mike would come up to me and say something, anything. Mostly I hoped that he would profess that I was his true love, and that we would be together as soon as he dumped that heifer Debbie. Instead, Mike completely ignored me. Looked right through me. Debbie, on the other hand, would stare at me, her eyes full of ridicule and hate. Frankly she scared me. I got the message. I stopped going to that church, any church for that matter.
That, my friends, is the sordid story of my first kiss.