The summer I was 12, we spent some time in Dorchester.
The main thing my brother, sister and I did to kill time after walking to the small grocery store to buy Frosty Cream Soda, which was not, as far as we knew, available in Lubbock, Texas, and which was a great complement to the Cap'n Crunch that my grandmother, on her small fixed retired dairy farmer income, bought for us (sugared cereals and soda being unavailable chez nous) was go to the swimming pond in the park.
The park was four blocks away, across the train tracks where the wild raspberries grew. There was a lifeguard, a pool house, and a raft in the middle of the pond. It cost a quarter to get in and my grandmother would give us the money to go. My siblings, my cousins and I would spend hours there. Then my cousin Angie, who is only nine days older than I am and my best cousin (out of 26 first cousins), would wash our hair in the pool house with Suave Strawberry Essence shampoo, which I suppose is not an important detail except even now, the smell of strawberry shampoo reminds me of summer.
Sadly, the pond has since been filled in. The town must have decided they couldn't afford the liability of a potential drowning.
But when I was 12 and when the pond was still open, there was a guy.
He lived on the farm right next to the cemetery, on the south side of town, across from the lumberyard.
Stan was hot.
Not that I used the word "hot" when I was 12. He was cuuuute!
He was as cute as a 12 year old farm boy can be. Tanned with dark curly hair and a bit muscular because farm boys at that time were expected to help with baling hay.
I didn't think anyone could be any cuter.
He would come to the swimming hole and flirt with me, as much as a 12 year old boy can flirt, which usually consists of splashing water on the object of desire, pushing her head under, and many other ways of expressing affection that are probably illegal on playgrounds today. I know the doubleknit polyester navy blue two-piece swimsuit with the anchor applique on the high-necked halter top that my mom had made for me was probably driving him wild. Nothing like a very modest bathing suit on an underdeveloped, plump seventh grader to inflame the passions.
I don't know how we made the transition from splashing each other to kissing, but one day, we walked back to his house together. We got as far as the creek on the north side of the cemetery. He wanted to kiss me, but I didn't want anyone to see because I don't know why. Which was stupid because we were on a gravel road by a cemetery on the outskirts of a town that didn't - still doesn't - even have a stoplight, so it's not like there was a lot of - or any - traffic.
I insisted we walk off the road and down to the creek. Not like anyone would see us there, standing next to the tiny bridge that crossed the tiny stream.
He stepped toward me. I stepped back into the cattails, then stopped. How could he kiss me if I was moving?
He stepped toward me again, kissed me and I thought,
Is this it? Is that all? Is that what a kiss feels like?
I had recently embarked on an ambitious project to read every trash romance novel ever written, including all the Harlequin romances and Sweet Savage Love, which has the typical plot of a defenseless woman forced to fend for herself because of being orphaned or sold to settle her father's debts, who encounters an alpha male - cowboy, cop, firefighter - who despises her upon first sight as much as she despises him. Yet they are thrown together by circumstances beyond their control. Their mutual attraction overwhelms them and they sleep together, but then come to their senses and vow that will never happen again, by golly.
In the meantime, they fall in love with each other but neither wants to admit that love because each is sure the other still despises him/her. Fortunately, Something Happens and They Admit Their Love and Live Happily Ever After.
There are usually some sex scenes, which interested me a lot when I was a teenager but now I skip because I am married to hottie Primo and can have wxyz whenever I want and sex scenes never advance the plot. Zey are boring to me now.
So before Stan kissed me, I had very high expectations for kissing, which is an argument for not teaching kids to read because imagine how much less disappointment in the world there would be if nobody had ever had her expectations raised from reading Sweet Savage Love. (Ha. Imagine what my first time of wxyz was like if I thought the earth would move with a mere kiss!)
Disappointed, I stepped back again, this time into the creek, which was OK because I was wearing flip flops but still was not the sophisticated exit I had wanted to make. I mumbled something about needing to get back to my granma's for supper and fled.
The prince turned into a frog. With one kiss, all the romance was gone. All the cuteness was gone. How could it all vanish so quickly?
We left a few days later, so I didn't have to avoid him for very long. I saw him again the next summer and wondered what had happened. He had been so cute! And now he was so short! What had I been thinking?
I would like to say I learned an important lesson with that kiss, but if you have read any of the other stories on this blog, you know that's a big fat lie. All I learned was you have to kiss a lot before you find someone who rocks your world. And even that is not enough.