Saturday, February 16, 2008

First Kisses

Do you remember your first kiss?

I do, and I still get all swoony inside. I was a freshman, and Tony was a junior. Little did I know he had a reputation. Back when, he'd have been called a "rake".

Tony had some sort of built-in radar for the weak impala of the herd. High school terrified me, and I spent most of my time skulking around corners and hiding behind a book.

I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence back then, but I was a born flirt, and my inner flirty-girl had just gone into hiding for a while. Tony brought her back out into the sunlight. I soaked up his attention like a sunflower soaks up UV rays.

We’d flirt, banter, and I’d get all worked up, and then he’d disappear for days at a time--working his magic on some other girl, I later discovered.

Just when I thought it would never happen, it did. I was sitting on the bench of a stone planter in our quad area, reading. Out of nowhere, a voice whispered in my ear, I turned toward it, and there was Tony. He pressed his lips to mine and I was so astonished my jaw sagged open.

My first kiss…and it was in French!

Tony, I must say, was an excellent kisser. He set the bar so high, most of the guys I kissed after him never measured up. When he kissed me (and every other girl he kissed) he gave it 110%. No half-hearted, dry pecks—ever. But I never had to keep a Kleenex handy to wipe up the drool, either. And he left my tonsils intact. He was the Mary Poppins of kissers; Practically Perfect in Every Way.

We never dated, but Tony and I would sneak every possible opportunity to kiss. We’d lock lips in the library, behind the bleachers at Home Plate, in the gloomy hallway in front of my locker. One time, he even caught me unawares coming out of the girl’s bathroom. There we’d be, arms and legs tangled together until I couldn’t stand the tension a moment longer and I’d break away. It never went beyond kissing and some adolescent “feel ups”, but I loved it. I wasn’t allowed to date, so I didn’t have a problem with him not wanting to be my boyfriend. I was content with our secret liaisons.

Then, we were found out. Not by a teacher or some other adult, but by one of Tony’s other girls. She didn’t say a word. But I began finding unsigned notes in my locker warning me to leave Tony alone. Well, how in Hades can you leave someone alone when they won’t leave you alone?

I managed to ferret out that my rival was a girl named Tina. I showed Tony the notes. He just shrugged and said Tina had been smoking too much pot and was paranoid. I told him to leave me alone anyway.

Bless his heart, he did as I asked.

The following year, when I’d experienced being dumped by a boy for the first time, it was Tony who came to the rescue. He picked up the pieces of my broken, teenaged heart and glued them back together with kisses and tender touches.

By my senior year, I’d swirled through the male sex like grasshoppers through a wheat field. I learned a hard lesson; never date guys you go to school with. Living in San Diego, I had my pick of thousands of guys stationed at the Naval Training Center (aka The Zoo) Miramar Naval Air Station and Camp Pendleton. I enjoyed them, each and every one.

Tony had joined the US Army after graduating and I’d all but forgotten him. Then, one day he showed up on my doorstep, all handsome in his dress greens. He was in town visiting family and he thought of me.

We spent an entire afternoon and evening talking, going through my yearbooks and flirting. He met my family for the first time and had dinner with us.

Then he kissed me one last time and was gone from my life forever.

Do you remember your first kiss? Was it a wonderful experience that you cherish? Or do you still cringe at the memory?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Waffling About Valentine's Day

I know a lot of people who get all bent out of shape when Valentine’s Day comes around. They argue that it’s all just a big marketing ploy to get people to buy stuff they neither need nor want in an effort to impress someone. Someone who either already knows how the other person feels or someone they hope will allow a furthering of intimacies in the relationship.

Other people, like Dear Daughter (the elder), who loves all holidays without exception, goes all out for Valentine’s Day and buys everyone she knows some sort of card or little gift as a reminder of her regard. She’s a retailer’s dream, that girl.

For myself, I straddle the fence with regards to Valentine’s Day. I don’t model myself after my child, but I’m not a curmudgeon about it, either. I usually buy my long-suffering hubby a card, make him a particularly toothsome dinner, etcetera…

He’s not big into cards, but he’ll usually buy me flowers, which he knows I love, and sometimes a DVD or a book I’ve been wanting.

But as the crew of the Romance Writer’s Revenge discussed today, Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity for Show, Don’t Tell. It’s all those little things during the year leading up to the Grand Gesture on Valentine’s Day that make the holiday genuine.

Back when I was a kid, back before cable tv, (gasp) computers and Political Correctness, we would spend the week leading up to Valentine’s Day decorating our little shoebox mailboxes and our little hearts would hammer with anticipation wondering how many valentines we would get.

And every year, my little heart would be broken because being the weird little geek that I was, I didn’t get many valentines. Often there would be only two in my little mailbox, one from the teacher and one from my best friend. And this after I’d gone to the effort to give one to everyone in my class.

Now, thanks to Political Correctness, every student, if they are going to participate, must give a valentine card to every other student in their class. No exceptions. So, there are no broken hearts, but at the same time, the weird little geek kid gets valentines from the kids who shove him into walls and the kid who wipes boogers on the back of his shirt. Can you feel the love?

So, how do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Love it? Loathe it? Have you made any grand gestures for the Significant Other in your life?