In the course of development from zygote to adulthood, we as human beings experience various series of firsts — a first step, first word, first day at school, and the like. Amidst all of these seemingly required firsts, none is etched so indelibly onto my memory as my first kiss.
I never had a steady girlfriend until my sophomore year in high school. Prior to then, I publicly and intentionally ignored any homosexual feelings I had. I didn’t see any real importance or usefulness that girls had to offer until I experienced a traumatic hate crime in my eighth grade year. From then on, I used any girl’s attention to my advantage. T his is where Erica came into play.
One afternoon, during Track and Field practice, and in front of all our teammates, Erica, the dark Mexican girl with long black hair and wild eyes, asked me out. I didn’t consider her feelings, and she had asked me out so publicly, and I had a reputation to build, so of course, I said, “yes.” A few weeks later, the cowboy-themed Sadie Hawkins dance quickly approached and earlier in the year I made a commitment with a good friend at the time, Cristina. I explained the situation to Erica and she, seemingly unaffected, stated that she was going to be out of town that weekend. However, come the night of the dance, my tall, brunette bombshell date, Cristina, and I were surprised to see Erica enter the decorated cafeteria with a group of friends. Despite the awkwardness that ensued during the night, everything seemed to be going rather smoothly — that was until I had met the a boy’s glare. It had seem that he had been gazing our direction for quite some time, and to make matters more awkward, his eyes didn’t waver or even attempt feigning as if he had not been starring.
It had been his friends from our school’s football team who had attacked me in the eighth grade. That hadn’t deterred he or I from discovering our gazes in the locker room during gym class. Nor did it prevent us from meeting after school, when I should have been doing community service at my brother’s elementary school and he should have been attending tutoring sessions. By the time of the dance, we had been exploring each others bodies in secret for about a year. He was blatant in his hopes of taking our exploration to the next level of intimacy. I, however, much to his dismay, was far too terrified to do more than what we had thus far. A large part of me still didn’t trust him. Somehow in my mind, I had braced myself for the other shoe to drop — for his friends to barge in with a video camera, or worse. Much worse. It was thoughts like these that had kept us at bay. I couldn’t afford to feel vulnerable, and so although we had used our mouths on each others bodies, I wouldn’t let him kiss me. When he came to learn of my girlfriend, news he unfortunately received secondhand, he immediately grew distant towards me, resentful even. As instantaneous as a switch of a light, he became as hostile as his friends, thus ultimately calling off our budding friendship.
The last song was announced and all thought the night I had still caught him occasionally piercing me with his icy gaze. Erica dragged me to what seemed to be the center of the dance floor, the spotlights seemed focused on us. Just then, he proceeded to kiss his Teutonic-blonde date, this girl from my History class, as kept his gaze focused towards me. I began to wonder anyone could fail to note this building silent tension and all the glares being thrown. His eyes glowed like a pair of blue headlights on an old pick-up truck, driving through a bitter fog. Had my eyes deceived me? Shock, anger, and jealousy overwhelmed me and just as I was about excuse myself, Erica caught me off guard yet again as she opened her mouth and proceeded to kiss my mouth. I felt her snake-like tongue slithering between my lips, trying diligently to enter between my lips. Once her tongue broke through, my eyes rolled back from sheer panic. I squirmed at the intrusion, re-envisioning vivid scenes from the Sci-Fi films “Species” and “Alien,” which she must have misconstrued as excitement because she became ever more passionate. Just as I reached the brink of falling, Erica unhooked herself from my mouth and opened her eyes adoringly and in a slightly glowing haze. She was well pleased with herself. Bewildered and uncertain in how to react, I just smiled. The song had ended and the ceiling lights came on. I searched the crowd quickly to find him only to be stunned when our eyes met. He was standing behind my girlfriend. The ceiling lights were harsh and bright above us, casting a shadow under his brow. Even without being able to see his eyes, my heart broke to see the hurt-laden scowl. Pulling his date in tightly by his side and his scowl morphing into haughty anger, he walked past me towards the exit, making sure his shoulder collided with mine. He really did care, I realized in that moment, but it was too late.
From the wide range of firsts that I’ve endured and experienced, none was as complicated and as key as my first kiss. We were simply sophomoric teenagers playing with deep emotions that were fitted for adults. Now in hindsight, I realize that the experience was a brief synopsis of what life would be like as a claustrophobic locked away in my own little closet.