Monday, February 9, 2009
Contestant # 5
I took this last week on a bitterly cold morning when the sun was making its first appearance for the day . At my house it was cold, but there was no wind. Here, though, the wind was blowing so hard I was nearly blown backwards to Deltaville, even though it doesn't look rough in this picture.
Speaking of unexpected events, we turn now to a story about a first kiss. Oh, and remind me to tell y'all about my first kiss which involves a Ford Pinto, a family reunion and a whole lot of "What in the world is goin' on here?"
Below is our fifth entry in my little story contest. If I'm remembering correctly, there are three other stories after this one to publish. Thanks to all who have participated, and hopefully by the end of the week we can get around to voting for the winner.
The story below is not entirely true, but it was inspired by events that actually occurred in Mathews. The one name given in the story has been changed; and, as far as I know, no one on this blog, other than the contributor was involved in any of the events detailed below – similar events, likely, but not these. In some ways, "Life in Mathews" is just like life everywhere else.
In some ways I was a slow starter; a fact that caused me much frustration and embarrassment as a teenager, but I eventually came to terms with the pattern of my adolescence. Thankfully "Anna" was there, patiently waiting for me to catch up. When I think about the times when she was not around, I don't feel as though I missed much. In fact, I find it easy to believe that some sort of guardian angel was looking out for me. Those pimple-faced days were often confusing.
Not that I see it this way, but let's assume that to some adolescents in my hometown a real date occurs when two people who would consider the most intimate of relations with each other spend a significant amount of unsupervised time together – I also recall that a date somehow seemed even more official if a car was involved. According to that definition, my first date was with a girl I hardly knew. In fact, the only time I ever spoke to her before we went out was to ask her out. We went to a movie with another "couple." Two things about that night stand out. The first is that I sat silently in the back seat two feet away from my date while my buddy, who was driving and looking at me through the rear view mirror, kept suggesting with his eyes that I get closer to her. The only other thing I remember is how my date introduced me to French kissing when I walked her to the door to tell her good night. I enjoyed the kiss for a moment, but then something my older brother had once said began haunting me: "If you French kiss a girl for too long an allergic reaction will cause your tongue to swell and you could choke to death." That night when I got home I brushed my teeth three times, gargled twice and took two Benadryl. I also prayed that I'd wake up in the morning. The only good the Benadryl did was put me to sleep and give me a hang-over in the morning. The unfortunate thing about that first date was that I think I liked the girl, but I was not brave enough to ask her out again.
Progress was slow, painfully slow at times. When you're sixteen and someone you think of as a friend says, "She told me you wouldn't do it," it hurts. Somehow I survived. I hope she did. I'm glad I listened to whatever force, or perhaps counter-force, of nature was telling me not to "do it".
Then there was Anna. When we were in middle school we went to dances together and had great fun. There was no pressure to be anything more than friends. We were in the eighth grade before I first dreamed of kissing her.
Soon after school started that year a friend invited me to a party. My mother drove me there. I didn't know that Anna was going to be there, so I was pleased when I arrived and saw her standing outside with our friends.
"Anna, you're here."
She spread her arms out and said with a big smile, "I'm here."
"So what are we going to do?"
"Play records and dance."
"Dance?" I said, making it clear that I was not interested.
"Dancing is fun."
"Not for me. Are we playing any games?" I asked anxiously.
"You mean like 'truth or dare'?"
"I hope so," said Anna.
"I hope not." I was always terrified that someone might chose "dare" and the "dare" would be to kiss me. When we played the game, I always chose "truth."
Anna and I stepped up onto the porch and sat down together in a swing. Anna softly said my name and asked, "Have you ever kissed anyone?"
"No," I said nervously.
"It's nothing to be afraid of."
"Oh, I know," I said, as I regained my composure and tried to act nonchalant.
"It's really kind of nice."
"It is?" If I had not been so worried about where our conversation was leading I might have felt a rush of jealousy and I tried to figure out who Anna had kissed.
"Yes, it is," she said.
We both sat quietly. Each time the swing came forward I touched my foot to the porch column and lightly pushed backwards. Although the sun had not set, the porch was darkened by the shade of the many tall trees in the yard. I assumed that all of the guests had arrived because everyone, except Anna and I had gone into the house.
Anna turned sideways on the swing and looked at me. "Would you like to try?" she asked.
I knew what Anna was asking me, but I didn't know what to say. My heart was pounding; I felt dizzy and wanted to run. The best I could do was delay the inevitable. "Try what?"
"Don't be afraid," she whispered.
"I'm not afraid," I said defensively.
Anna placed her hand on my arm and leaned forward. She looked into my eyes and said, "You're very special to me. Don't you ever forget that and don't let me forget it either. Promise?"
"Promise," I said and I closed my eyes.