A Second First Kiss
I remember his kiss being greasy from the Harold’s chicken he grabbed from upstairs. His tongue was flat and wide and he kept trying to waddle it into my mouth. I kept my lips tightly shut like the kids on television. He was fifteen at the time and had snuck into the show to watch Jason’s Lyric the week before. I think he was trying and failing to recreate a Jason and Lyric moment.
Finally, the saliva coated right of teenage passage was over and when we parted, Dre had the goofiest grin on his face. I looked down noticing goosebumps rise on my deeply brown skin. Each tiny rise of flesh a new question and answer for my pubescent life.
Spin the bottle, the game which conflicts nearly every red blooded girl. We fear being picked because we don’t want to be kissed, well, we want to be kissed but only by the boy we want. What if the boy cringes and refuses to kiss us? Ew!, what if he tries for tongue? So many questions and anxiety filled my heart whenever I’d go to my best friend’s house.
Tonya’s dad had a chicken and spades party once a month and all his friends would bring their kids. The little kids would go to her little brother’s room to play. The nearly grown ones weren’t allowed to play spades yet but, they played Madden or some other video game in her older brothers room and the older girls, if they even came, would get their hair done in Tonya’s mom beauty shop in the garage. Tonya would invite all her girlfriends over to hangout with the Middle Set. Yup, that’s what she, well we, called them. The Middle Set were the boys who were just around our age, fourteen to about sixteen years old.
Yeah, it seems lame, if not odd, for teenagers as old as sixteen, sitting crossed legged on a royal blue carpet waiting anxiously for a Victoria Secret Love Spell bottle to spin and tell us our fate. It was even more odd that all of us were Black and society pretty much thought we were playing this kind of game at seven years old. To them, we should all be pregnant with our second kid by now. I hate to break it to people but, nope, I received my first kiss, the greasy one, at fourteen from Andre Jackson and even now, at sixteen, I’ve still not had a second kiss or a single bit of over or under the sweater action.
Three years later Tonya and I were getting ready for her dad’s get together, jamming out to SWV’s “I’m So Into You”. Earlier she slathered black hair gel on her hair, brushing and pulling it up so tight into this tiny barely there ponytail. The length of her pony didn’t matter though, she borrowed her cousin’s phony pony and pinned in right into place after she dried the hell out of her gelled hair. Me? I kept it simple, all I had to do was take my lighter and burn any frays off my box braids. I didn’t bother changing my clothes for the party, my babydoll crop top and overalls would do just fine. I was lacing up my Jodeci boots when I notice Tonya staring into the mirror like a zombie.
“What’s up?” I asked
“Nothing, I’m just trippin’,” she says as she snaps out of her trance.
“Tonya, c’mon girl, spill it”
“Did you know we are the last two virgins of our friends? We are getting dolled up to play Spin The Bottle…again. That’s a kids game! We are sixteen going on seventeen years old, juniors in high school man! You’ve never even had a boyfriend.”
I understood her dilemma but, personally, I didn’t care. I saw too many girls my age knocked up and leaving school because they wanted to keep up. Even the uber religious ones, they are actually the worst ones. My girl Chantel, whose dad is a pastor at Trinity Fellowship, acts all demure and pious in public but carries a gang of condoms in the lining of her purse and is now known as “Dome” because of all the head she gives after school. Sex just isn’t on my radar right now, I’m not trying to catch what these boys are carrying and I’m sure not about to get pregnant. It’s why Tonya knew I was going to shrug at her comment.
“Tonya, no one is stopping you. I’ll be just fine being the only virgin in our group, hell in our high school. Plus, I want the real thing and if Andre’s kiss was any indication, boys are sloppy and the ones that can give me the real experience are grown ass men and that’s just creepy. I’ll wait.”
She rolled her eyes at me and continued putting on way too much Wet & Wild lip gloss. I reminded her to put some biking shorts on under her skirt because sitting cross legged in front of a bunch of horny guys with just panties may not be the best move.
Now, while I wasn’t looking for sex or anything sex adjacent, I was looking for a better kiss. Andre’s kiss was horrible, I still couldn’t erase the memory of it. Greg Johnson was coming tonight with his dad and I was hoping Greg would spin to me. He is a borningly pretty boy by all standards. Light skin, light eyes, and light brown hair, which he kept in a low fade. Brother looks like a young El DeBarge. His pretty boy looks didn’t attract me, it was his writing. He and I are in Ms. Thompson’s A.P. English class and every week we have to write either a poem or a story; every week feels like he’s pulling out a chair in my soul and setting up shop. His words are beyond his years.
I’ve never had a boyfriend before and I’m not really looking for one either, Greg though, Greg is a game changer. I feel like Greg could challenge me and I him. Together we would push each other to greatness and mature as a couple until either our story was done or we built an empire. When I listened to his stories I did wonder if he was copying some obscure poet or maybe love notes from his dad to his mom but, no, it was all him. We had a timed writing assignment in class and he brought the same amount of intellect and beauty to his words as his homework. Greg isn’t really a nerd, just what my mom calls an old soul. When he speaks I watch his lips. Every curl of his lip when he uses R words or the way he licks his lips when he says love or light. Those lips could erase an old greasy kiss. Tonya and I were determined to make that happen.
“So what the plan Ton?” I prodded as we helped set out the snacks in each designated room.
“Ok so” she smacks her lips for emphasis “Imma set Halitosis Tiana in between us and even if the bottle stops to her, you know the boys will skip her and have to kiss the girl to her right or left.
I furrow my brow at the flaws in her plan.
“Yeah, but what if it keeps going to Tiana? Then I or you will be kissed all night, I don’t want every guy, just Greg.”
She gives a snickering laugh
“Oh yeah, I guess I will get kissed a lot”
I sigh and toss a cheese puff at her head “You are zero help.”
We sneak into the kitchen, grabbing one of the large buckets of mild sauce for the basements food table and I nearly trip down the stairs when she gasps.
“Seven minutes in heaven!!”
“Nope, Nah, Uh Uh,” I protest
“Yes! C’mon Gina, think about it. We can all play and I can write the guys names on pieces of paper. I’ll make sure to put a red dot on Greg’s name and you get to pick first. Then boom! You get your kiss.” the excitement in her eyes was almost contagious if not for their wildness.
“Mmmhmm, get my kiss and get felt up. I heard Paul put his hands down Angela’s panties last year when they played that over at Jessie’s house. I will knock the dog shit out of Greg if he tries that.”
“Oh my God! It ain’t even that serious. First Greg is scary, he’s not just gonna run up on you like that, secondly, even if he did try, just yell stop it and I’m right there to pull you out.” She holds up the Girl Scout promise sign as if that would reassure me. She quit Girl Scouts after three months.
“But seven minutes? If all I’m doing is kissing that’s a lot of kissing for seven minutes.”
“Fine, two minutes. That’s enough time to get through the awkward two step you do and get to a real kiss”
This time she got an eye roll and lip smack from me.
Later that night everyone went to their respective rooms. Her Dad even let some of the Video Game Crew join in the spades game. God help them if they renege. I loaded Tonya’s five CD changer with Mary J, Blige, The Waiting to Exhale and Loves Jones soundtracks, Dru Hill and the Moments in Love CD single. We all chilled for at least the first hour and it got real quiet when Halitosis Tiana showed up. She is a cool girl but, dang her breath is hot.
Tonya stood up and got everyone’s attention.
“Ahem! So, I thought we’d switch this up a bit. Let’s play Seven Minutes in Heaven. I’ll write the boys names on pieces of paper and the girls will get to choose. And because I’ll be damned if somebody gets pregnant in my daddy’s tool closet, let’s make it only two minutes. Boys, y’all better act right. If a girl says stop I’m opening the door.”
Some of the boys grin, while others groan. Jacob and Newsom have screwed a few girls and this was all child’s play to them. I don’t know why they come to these parties when they know all we do is kiss. Greg nods robotically as if the instructions are deep and meaningful. He looks over at me for a moment and quickly turns away. I notice Andre rubbing his hands together; licking his lips, I instantly feel a cold sore coming on.
“Ok ladies, pick your guy.” Tonya passes around her mom’s blue church hat and I see the, not very subtle at all, red mark on the strip of paper. I grab it before anyone can notice. I walk over and sit next to Greg, showing him the slip.
“So, I guess it’s me and you huh?” I say shyly with a quiver in my voice.
“Yeah, I guess so. You know…If…well, if you don’t want to kiss we can just talk for two minutes.”
Shit! If I say I want to kiss I look eager, if I say let’s just talk I don’t get my kiss
“Oh, no, it’s cool either way. Let’s not over think it and see what happens when we get in there.” Good save, I hope.
Tonya is arguing with Newsome under her breath because he refuses to kiss Tiana.
I raise my voice a bit “So, um, who’s going first?
“Gina and Greg” Tonya says with a bit too much confidence and sass. I swear she is winking at me
Greg takes my hand and leads me to the closet. I hear the MelloSmooth version of Sumthin Sumthin turn up higher as he shuts the door. Tonya is not slick. The cramped space smells of WD-40 and dust. It’s small enough that Greg and I have no choice but to be touching stomach to stomach. The timer has started and I’m nervous the door will open before I get my kiss.
I lift my head to meet his and his facial expression is impossible to read. His face is blank, just staring into me. It’s the same robotic nature from before. This is so weird when he reads he is so passionate, so engaged and now he’s so…so…emotionless.
I pipe up, “Hey, we don’t have to….”
Greg’s hands softly cup my face and he snaps his eyes shut quickly.
“You are so beautiful Gina,” he says it with a twinge of gruff and hesitation in his voice. As if he’s been waiting to get that out.
He cuts me off again and kisses my forehead. Dammit! Not the forehead.
Greg leans down and kisses my neck and trails to my collarbone. I shiver under his kiss and pull back for only a second. I feel the familiar bumps rise on my skin, not a single question or answer rises with them. This must be what lust feels like. I felt a heat rising below and my fingers digging into his ribs.
The pressure of his kiss and teeth on my neck are light enough it probably won’t leave a visible scar. I wanted more though, so much more and nothing but devastation filled me when he pulled away. He ran his thumb over my full lightly painted bottom lip, tilting my chin up to him. His mouth enveloped mine.
His lips commanded my lips and I followed along like a violinist following her conductor. He doesn’t need to part my lips, I offer the small but eager opening unabashedly. Quick, concentrated darts of his tongue slip past my lips and it is perfection. He even lets out a small moan as his urgency slows down. He gently lets go of my face and presses his forehead against mine.
“Damn” he let out with a sigh
“You ready?” He asks and I nod.
He opens the door and everyone is staring at us. Tonya is grinning from ear to ear and I know my soft skin has turned a deep auburn color. Greg guides me to the couch and we sit. Tonya realizes the silence is now awkward and ushers in the next couple. Newsome kicks an imaginary can as he walks in with Tiana.
Greg and I just sit there. I turn to look at him and his robotic stance has softened but, it doesn’t look like he’s up for conversation. I look around the room and see teenage angst strewn over the basement. I decide to give Greg some space and scootch to stand. He gently takes my hand pulling me back softly, his thumb rubbing my knuckles. I have no idea what this means. I look over at him and this time he looks directly at me.
“I only came tonight to talk to you. Kinda um, cool and serendipitous that you picked me huh?” he says
I bite my lip, if he only knew of the low brow set up Tonya had concocted.
I stammer a little “Yeah, lucky huh?”
Greg releases my hand and pulls a white folded piece of paper from his pocket. He leans over to the side table grabbing Tonya’s red pen and puts a big red dot on the outside of the paper.
We both start laughing, I guess Tonya’s plan wasn’t so stealthy after all.
“Here”, he hands me the paper “This is for you, it’s not my work. I couldn’t find the right words to…well…here just have this.”
I take the tightly folded paper and open it slowly. It’s a poem, I’ve never noticed it before but his handwriting is elegant. I begin to read the beautiful words.
How do we come to be here next to each other
in the night
Where are the stars that show us to our love
Outside the leaves flame usual in darkness
and the rain
falls cool and blessed on the holy flesh
the black men waiting on the corner for
a womanly mirage
I am amazed by peace
It is this possibility of you
and breathing in the quiet air
P.S. In other words, do you want to go together?
I never raise my face from the paper. I can tell he is watching me intently but, his eyes staring straight forward. Carefully, I fold the paper and place my elbows on my knees, clasping my clammy palms together.
“Yeah…we can,” I say in the softest voice.
Still, without looking at me, he takes my hand again, this time intertwining our fingers.
Victoria Catherine is a Fort Wayne based writer with a Chicago heart whose latest work, I Guess I’m Out, is available on Amazon.