Being a late bloomer has its advantages. Even by the “antiquated” standards of the 60’s, my first kiss was much later than most of my girlfriends. It happened in May of 1967—not because my recollection about dates is that accurate- but because I still have the little strip of diary paper where I wrote it down.
And I’m not talking about “making out”. That was for…well, “you
What I do remember is that almost five decades later, it is still the bar by which all kisses in my life are held to and there is no movie, no song, no book that equals the passion and innocence of that particular moment.
I remember bring teased by the American girls at school. “What! He hasn’t kissed you yet?”
At that time, nice Puerto Rican girls didn’t just “date”; chaperones and sweet smiles across the classroom desks during study halls and lunch tables were more the norm. I was probably more frustrated than most… I was extremely shy with a mutual attraction to the most beautiful boy in school. I was so pathetic. I could barely look him in the face on our walk home. It did help a bit that we lived in the same building and that he did deliver and collect the dues for our newspaper.
For what seemed like a very long time our only mutual topic of conversation there for a while were current events.
For gosh sakes’ –he was two years older than me. How much patience was the poor lad going to endure? Handsome, popular, on the football team, played bass in the school rock band. I could never figure out what he saw in me. I was mortified –and sure that a breakup between us was in the making. What I wanted so much, terrified me to no end.
There is a hazy memory of a Beatles song playing on the stereo in the teen ‘rec’ room of our apartment building. I opened the door to the dimly lit hallway, pretending a huff to go out and get some air. That way, maybe he could just get mad and be rid of me and I could go back to all my pent-up silliness and dismiss this whole kiss thing back into my imagination, where it probably belonged anyways.
And then it happened.
I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder, almost as if I were being turned for a waltz. Time slowed and his other hand brushed the hair from my cheek.
I faintly remember the door closing.
I could feel that my face was hot – my eyes were glued to my shoes as if they held the most fascinating secret. I may have been petrified, but he was not. A brave and gentle soul cupped my chin and forced me to look in his chocolate eyes.
Not clumsy. Not silly.
It was just a slight brush of the lips—and then, another- slightly more insistent. He smelled (rather than tasted) of “Old Spice”…And he knew my fear was gone. I felt an arm encircle my waist and another touch my hair and take in my scent (a perfume that he later confessed distinguished me from all others.) … It was so natural for me to reach up and place my arms around his neck.
My shyness melted away like an ice cream cone dropped on a sidewalk on a sunny day.
I felt like a peach at the peak of ripeness nibbled at with each insistent kiss, (Not sloppy, never slobbery) there was an innocent intimacy that was built between us that could never be shared between anyone else. Then, he just looked in my eyes, and smiled. It was my first kiss, and it was perfect in every way.
And it was well worth the wait.
Written by alumna Sara Mullis.