Scenes from a Life: First Kiss

“A kiss is just a kiss” the song goes, unless it’s that memorable First Kiss. I can only speak from the girl’s perspective. I don’t know whether boys whisper about whether they are ready, when it will happen, or whether they’re nervous.

Confession time. I was sweet fourteen and never been kissed when I decided to try out for the part of Liat in South Pacific. Liat’s mom, Bloody Mary, “gives” her virginal teenaged daughter to an American soldier for the night in hopes that he’ll like her and marry her and take her away to a better life. The part of Lt. Cable had already been cast—a super-cute, super-athletic junior with flowing seventies hair and a sweet tenor voice. Be still my teenaged heart. The audition was to play the arranged-seduction scene with him. Fortunately I only had to learn one line--in French, at that--because all I could think about was the part where he would tenderly lower me to the floor and kiss me.

Since the music room was being used by lower school classes, our director had reserved a large supply closet for auditions--large meaning, maybe six by eight feet, which was kind of cozy for four. Four? Yes, four. Did I mention Lt. Cable had a senior girl friend who was playing the Nellie, the star of the show, and helping our music teacher evaluate all the auditions?

For a week I popped breath mints and played the scene in my head, especially in Algebra II where he sat a couple desks away. The dreaded, longed-for day came. And then it happened. My first kiss, in the arms of the high school basketball star, on the floor of a supply closet, under the supervision of his girlfriend and the music director. It was warm and soft and strangely thoughtful, like he understood how awkward this whole set up was. And curiously, it was far more memorable in the long run than my first “real” kiss with a boyfriend a year later.

There are a lot of “first” kisses over a lifetime, but only one First Kiss, which holds a special place in the way we measure our growing up.