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Reflections February 2018

Alive and Kidding

Do You Remember Your First Kiss?

By Sally Ann Breslin

My thoughts suddenly drifted back to over 50 years ago…and my first kiss. Prior to the big event, I had read and memorized every article about kissing I could find in every teen magazine on the market. Back then, the hot topic in those magazines was whether or not a girl should allow a boy to kiss her on the first date.

One of my friends called me the other day to complain. “I’ll never watch another soap opera again as long as I live!” she huffed. “I’m so disgusted, I may lose my lunch!”

“What now?” I asked, sighing. “Did Nikki find out that her real father is an alien from the planet Zebulon?”

“No, it’s the way they kiss!” she said. “Whatever happened to gentle, romantic kissing – the kind that used to make young women swoon when they watched Paul Newman or Clark Gable movies? When did everyone stop touching their lips together and start looking as if they’re practicing CPR? Do you know what the kiss I just saw on my soap opera looked like? Two fish out of water! Is that supposed to be romantic? Maybe to a mackerel, but not to me!”

I laughed, but after we hung up, I found myself thinking about kissing and how much it really has changed. My thoughts suddenly drifted back to over 50 years ago…and my first kiss. Prior to the big event, I had read and memorized every article about kissing I could find in every teen magazine on the market. Back then, the hot topic in those magazines was whether or not a girl should allow a boy to kiss her on the first date.

Well, according to the magazines, any girl who kissed on the first date risked being labeled “easy.” The magazines advised young ladies to wait until at least the fourth date to kiss…but even then, to allow only a peck on the cheek. A peck on the lips, one article added, was acceptable on the sixth date. And on the eighth or ninth date, an actual full-lipped kiss finally was permissible.

Another teen magazine even offered a helpful, step-by-step “how-to” article about kissing. I must have read it a dozen times. It instructed the “kissee” to tilt her head to the right, slightly part her lips, and just as the boy’s lips met hers, to close her eyes. The article also emphasized to remember to breathe during the kiss, to avoid turning blue.

I practiced the magazine’s technique on my teddy bear, my pillow, and even on the back of my hand. The fact that I didn’t even have a boyfriend at the time didn’t matter. I wanted to be fully prepared for that eighth or ninth date, whenever it finally did arrive.

As it turned out, my first kiss came about very unexpectedly in the summer of 1963, my freshman year in high school. A few kids from the neighborhood and I had gathered in my basement one steamy summer night because it was about 15 degrees cooler down there. Mike, who always hung around with us, brought a new kid with him that night.

His name was Don and he was really cute – long brown hair, big blue eyes, and dimples. He also played the guitar in a band, and even though he went to a strict parochial school, he already had a reputation for being quite the ladies’ man (according to Mike anyway). You might say Don was a 14-year-old version of Fonzie.

That fateful night, my friend Dee suggested we play a game of “Truth or Dare” to pass the time. I’d never even heard of the game, but I didn’t want to be a party pooper, so I agreed. The first few rounds, everyone opted for “truths.” Dee, for example, had to be truthful and tell me one thing she really didn’t like about me (believe me, this game wasn’t a great way to strengthen friendships).

“Your eyebrows,” she said to me. “They’re so bushy, you look like a caveman! Invest in some tweezers, will ya?”

As I sat there, silently willing my head to sprout long bangs to hide my eyebrows, Mike took his turn and decided to issue a dare to Don. “I dare you to kiss Sally,” he said. “And I don’t mean a peck!”

My head snapped up and my eyes widened. I felt my pulse increase to about 1,000 beats per minute. Don stared at me for a few seconds, his expression distinctly amused, then he stood and held out his hand. “Come on,” he said. “We’ll go behind that wall over there.”

I don’t remember taking his hand or following him. I do, however, remember feeling the beads of perspiration popping out on my forehead as I frantically tried to remember steps one through four of the “How to Kiss” article. Finally, Don stopped walking and turned toface me. I froze. I absolutely froze.

As he leaned to kiss me, I forgot every single thing I’d read. I didn’t tilt my head. I didn’t part my lips or close my eyes. I didn’t even remember to breathe. Don, however, did everything as perfectly as if he’d written all of those kissing articles himself.

By the time the kiss finally ended, after what seemed like 112 years, I was gasping for air. My eyes, still wide open, were bulging like a bullfrog’s. Don opened his eyes, smiled at me and walked off. Too embarrassed to face him or my friends, I bolted upstairs.

According to Mike, Don later told him he couldn’t really tell if he’d actually kissed me…or had missed and kissed the wall.

All I can say is all of those “informative” teen magazines sure did make great fireplace kindling.

 

Sally Breslin is an award-winning humor columnist and the author of "There’s a Tick in my Underwear! "Contact her at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .