I had watched countless videos on how to kiss. They weren’t actual “how to” videos – but my best friend and I repeatedly watched scenes from Zapped and Grease, learning the expected moves. We were experts with fast forwarding, rewinding, and the play-slow mode. We would pause when John Travolta kissed Olivia Newton John. We would watch Scott Baio tilt his head to the side as he expertly planted one on his leading lady. We had it down. Or at least my BFF had it down, because she actually had a boyfriend to practice on. Me? It was just the mirror or my hand until I was 15. Up until that point, and probably for a long while after, I was only good at making out with myself.
My first kisser apparently had not studied those 80’s flicks as closely as I had.
It was my first fall away from home, at boarding school. I had a fantastic roommate who managed to ask me, with a straight face, if I was okay when I woke up on my ass during my first night sleeping on a bunk bed. I’m not sure how she kept from laughing. She was a saint. I dusted my bruised butt off, and attempted to get back up on that bunk. I survived, without any broken bones and a small portion of my teen pride.
There was a boy, named Emilio. He was a member of The Spanish Connection. This was a group of Spaniards at our school who had parents that were diplomats for Puerto Rico, Spain, Columbia, etc. I guess some of their parents may have just been normal people, but to me, they were all from mysterioso backgrounds, filled with intrigue and danger. And the way they spoke? Wow. My name had never sounded so romantic, even when I imagined River Phoenix whispering it in my ear.
“Kreeeeesssstta! How are you doiiiiinnng todaaayyyy?”
I just melted into a puddle on the sidewalk. I have the same reaction to Antonio Banderas’s voice. It’s a bit awkward to melt when you are watching Shrek with your kid.
So, there was Emilio. He hardly even spoke English, but what he said sounded like liquid gold in my ears. Someone told me that he wanted to meet up with me to go to the mall. I missed the bus. I told someone I wanted to talk to him at the Canteen. He never showed. Someone told me he wanted to meet me to go for a walk after study hall. Our paths finally intersected. We walked in the dark, trying some awkward conversation that neither one of us could understand. There were more butterflies in my stomach than in a field of wildflowers on a warm summer day. Annoyingly, they were fluttering up to my cheeks, making me flushed, and around in my ears, messing with my hearing. I think even my vision was distorted. Where were we going? It was so dark. We were heading over past the gym to the football field. This couldn’t be good. Of course, I wasn’t thinking logically. Those stupid butterflies were confusing me! Instead, I was listening to the inflection of his voice, the cascading musicality of each word, not understanding a damn thing he said. We sat down on a big mat. I guess this mat was intended for some athletic purpose, but I have a feeling it served more as a soft and cushy seat for people wandering around after study hall, needing a make out spot. And that was it. He was not a player, I give him that. There was no “baby, you’re so pretty, you could be a model, I get lost in those eyes, …”
Of course, maybe there had been on the way over to the mat of shame, but I couldn’t have understood it anyway.
Emilio placed his beautiful Spanish hands on either side of my face. He looked into my eyes, and I looked into his… thinking only of Scott Baio and how he would kiss if he were in this situation. A lean to the right? Probably. But what if he leans to the right at the same time. Oooh, that could be awkward. And do I wait to see if the tongue creeps on in? Or do we just start like that?
Well, guess what!?!
It’s too late because after holding my face in his hands, and gazing into my eyes, he started to lick me.
Um. I don’t remember this from my movie training. What do I do with this? What if he licks out my contact lens? How will I find my way back to my dorm? The licking continued as my mind grappled with what was happening. Just as I started to realize that he had somehow at least found my mouth to lick, I also realized that one of his hands was no longer on my face. It was on one of my floatation devices. I gently pushed it to my shoulder, as if that was the bump he had been looking for. That hand seemed to have a mind of its own and it gravitated BACK to my floaty. What was even more alarming to me was the fact that it started to seek out the bottom of my oversized t-shirt, to dive underneath.
First kiss night – let’s not go through the bases quite that fast. One milestone at a time, dude. I need more video learning. Thankfully, time was up and I needed to return to my dorm. As the saliva dried in an effervescent sheen on my cheeks, he walked me most of the way back, and said goodnight (or adios or something). I slithered up the stairs in my dorm, finally reaching my room, and entered it to see my roommate sitting on the floor, doing homework. She looked at my (freshly licked) face and asked me if I was okay (see, she really was a saint) and I proceeded to crack into bits and pieces. Even the layer of saliva couldn’t hold me in place.
I did not feel like Sandy, in Grease.
I did not feel like Scott Baio.
I felt like some dirt ball had swooned me with his native tongue and then used that tongue to lick my face. I knew he wasn’t going to be telling people I was his girlfriend. I knew he probably wasn’t going to even look at me in the hallways. And my roommate knew it, too. She just held me while I cried and cried.
He turned out to be a great guy. No. Not really. He was a total jerk, and followed through with each of our predictions. It hurt. I felt like Scott Baio and the cast of Grease should be charged with false advertising. It was NOTHING like in the movies. My hand and my own reflection had been much more rewarding (and still talked to me the next day).
Sometimes bubble headed thoughts lead you to expect more from life. The perfect first kiss. The amazing sixteenth birthday party (which MY parents completely forgot). Your romantic high school prom (for another blog). Even your magical wedding day. None of these things actually turn out like you expect them to. It’s much safer to keep such expectations from your bubble, and just continually be surprised. You can’t practice for everything in life. Ask my kissing hand.