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hey lady, 16 years old

I remember some details perfectly, what I was wearing down to which bra and which pair of socks; where I was; what was on the TV in the background. But other things aren’t there. The smell, the specific kind of butterflies in my stomach, the nervousness, the fear – I remember that all those things were in the mix, but this one first kiss has been obstructed by dozens of other first kisses, last kisses, important kisses, love kisses and dare kisses. But first there was just this one kiss. There was that one irreducible (un-duplicatable) kiss untarnished by memory and expectation and bitterness. This one pure first grappling moment.

We’d just watched a bootleg of some documentary about the underground punk moment in Australia. Soon, everyone else had left. Jeremy and I watched a Night Court rerun. It was the episode where Roz’s ex-boyfriend escaped prison and pretended he’d been released early for good behavior. She found out the truth only after they’d rekindled their romance. And as Judge was giving Roz a little heart to heart on the courthouse roof, Jeremy – who’d been lounging on the floor in front of me, quietly watching TV – rolled over and kissed me.

My heart was racing somewhere not far beneath my 32AA, and I swore he could hear it. After a pause to breathe, he laughed a little and he smelled like a boy. And I know now that I had never recognized that singularly male smell before. Even with two brothers, even with shenanagins and tickle fights on the bus in middle school – there wasn’t this smell. This was different. It was soft and dusty and a little frightening. But very exciting.

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