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Posting for the memory of Paul Eckna, who died on 9/11/01 in the WTC tragedy.

This isn't the story of my first actual kiss. I can't even remember that one. Must not have been that monumental.

No, this is a story of the first kiss that launched my first real relationship. It was October 1990. Football season. Sophomore year. I was co-captain of the JV cheering squad, though by all means, not one of the popular girls often associated with the title. I hadn't yet grown into my lovely Italian nose, and I so desperately wanted to be accepted and loved. Remember those days?

My best friend Jackie's brother Bobby was a year older than us. He invited us to a party after one of the games. He ran with all the cool kids, so we thought we were the bomb. After a couple of beers from the warm keg, we all relaxed and became ourselves. There was this one guy Paul, who I had flirted with on occasion at Jackie's house. He was a cute, huge football player with very warm, smiley eyes. I can't remember how we got on St. Paul's field (did he ask me to go for a walk maybe?) but before I knew it, I was sitting on his varsity jacket close to him under the stars.

He was lying on his side, leaning up on one arm. I remember we talked for a long time, and then he asked if I'd be his girlfriend. I can feel my heart doing flip-flops at the memory of it. Of course I said yes, and he leaned in and kissed me so softly on the lips and we just stayed still like that for what seemed like hours. I remember feeling the October chill on my back, and the warmth of his face on my lips.

It was so lovely. He pulled away and put his hand on my cheek and with a big smile that could melt your heart, he said "good." I turned my gold, heart-shaped ring so the point was pointing towards my heart, telling the world I'm taken. Minutes later, we were tackled by 4 or 5 huge football players, screaming "Way to go, Eck!"

Paul and I lost touch after high school, but I have so many fond memories of our relationship (and some insane ones as well – we didn't wind up together so you can imagine it didn't end pretty). He was a great friend, and I'm so sad that he's not here to reconnect with and joke about those good old days. He was probably the only one who truly knew me during that time.

Jenny Williams, California

After Miracles, 1998

The car was dark and we sat parked in his driveway, still in our seatbelts. The mocha I'd gulped at Miracles Cafe an hour back made me fidgety and alert; my fingers tapped the steering wheel, nervous, waiting. I couldn't bring myself to look at him. We were seniors in high school and I was embarrassed, him so experienced and me always awkward, never knowing what came next.

He let out a big breath and turned his face to mine. My eyes flickered up.

"Well then," he said. And kissed me.

It was wet. In all my years imagining the circumstances of my first kiss, not once did I factor saliva into the equation. And soft -- I had no idea lips could be so soft, especially a boy's lips, especially this boy's lips, whose body was so rough with surfing and skating and daredevil tricks. A boy I'd known since preschool, when we chased each other in the school yard and traded chewing gum at lunch. A boy who had become, suddenly and without warning, tall and wind-blown, with bleached hair and a crooked grin.

He pulled back and said nothing, locking his eyes with mind in a measured gaze.

"I'm...I'm sorry," I stammered. "I don't really know..."

He hushed me with a finger.

"Practice. Lots of it. Doctor's orders." Smiling, he kissed me again.

Judith Harkham Semas

Wonders of Seventh Grade: Kisses and Creamed Corn

When he kissed me, Barry Jakes tasted faintly of creamed corn. That was okay with me. It was my first kiss and I was crazy about creamed corn. Actually, I preferred corn on my lips to Barry, but when the bottle was spun it had pointed at me, and resisting social pressure was a concept I'd not yet mastered. Besides, I longed to discover what kissing a boy was like.

That first kiss was a real letdown, a hurried, eyes-scrunched, nose-crinkled smack. But then, it took practice to master the art of kissing -- not to mention its vocabulary. In the discovery I had to survive more than one awkward episode, like the time that "older man" -- a high school sophomore who'd been flirting in the movie line with me, a clumsy pup of a seventh-grader -- asked, with a wink, "Do you French?" meaning, of course, "Do you French kiss?"

To my everlasting mortification, the whole line heard me chirp in reply, "No, I'm Portuguese!"

Learning the complexities of locking lips was only one of the breakthroughs of seventh grade. In seventh grade I was protected enough that my neighborhood was home without question or fear, yet free enough to mix easily with boys from different backgrounds and schools ... young enough to over-dramatize every misspoken word, yet old enough to slow-dance achingly close ... indulged enough to be dished up all the creamed corn I wanted, yet independent enough to take my first steps toward adulthood and the world beyond.

Seventh grade, when I stood poised on the threshold of realized potential, was one of the sweetest times of my life -- almost as sweet as creamed corn.

E. Welch, 10 years old

It was Halloween 1984. We were playing spin the bottle at a friend's house... her mother was only 26 and we were 10. She wasn't paying any attention to us. When the bottle pointed to both of us we went outside under the trailer steps. We crouched down and he asked me, "what kind do you want to do?" I knew what he was asking but I played dumb. "Huh?" I asked. He said, "French or Regular?" I said, "Regular." We kissed. He had big lips and I thought the feeling was fascinating and a little gross. We kissed later in the closet.

Twenty years later he looked me up. He still tastes the same, when I kissed him this morning.

Oberon, NYC

I was a very experienced kisser; I started kissing girls when I was about 11 or 12 and it was an incredible experience every time. My high-school girlfriend was a deliciously perfect kisser. We would kiss for hours at a time, literally, and saying good night to her after a date took a good ten minutes of tongue time.

But there was something missing, not in the kissing but in what kissing normally leads to. I knew all along that I really wanted to be kissing another boy; but living in a town of 750 people in the middle of nowhere, that was pretty much just a fantasy.

It didn't happen until I was 25; by then I was frequently going to the opera - the Met in NYC - and had this opera buddy who was still in his teens, a very cute Jewish boy. I was attracted to him but I didn't know how to get him into a 'situation' - basically I had no clue how to seduce another guy...or what to do with him once I'd seduced him.

One night the opera ended very late and he had conveniently missed the last bus home; I invited him to stay with me at my hotel. I realize now it was a set-up - on both sides - but I was a nervous wreck. We got into bed in our briefs and for the longest time we pretended to be falling asleep. Then I couldn't stand it any more and put my arms around him. He turned and we started kissing. And that was when life truly began for me.

Sheila Needs, 6 (and three quarters) years old

One Summer Barbeque, Many Years Ago…

In my six year old way, I fell in love with him immediately, so of course I was trying to attack him.

“How old are you?” I said.
“Six and a half,”
“I’m six and three quarters,” I boasted, swinging as high as I could.
“Oh yeah? Bet you can’t do this.”

And with that, he leaped from the swing just as it had reached its highest arc, landing on his knees in the dirt. His perfect knees were bloody. I could hide my feelings no longer, I was terrified.

I sprinted to our house, snatching Band-Aids and mercurochrome from the bathroom. When I arrived back on the scene, my brave stunt man refused my help. It turned out his highness had an aversion to anything medical. I must have chased him around the house three times before we both got tired and went in to watch Disney’s Robin Hood.

Behind the couch, he knelt on his knees facing me and began to move in. His lips were wet, sticky and not puckered. He simply pressed them on mine and held there for a few seconds. I could taste grass, dirt and popsicle. Did my man eat dirt? It didn’t matter now. I loved all four seconds of it.

“Will you be my wife?” he asked. Suddenly, my six year old love affairs flashed before me. There was Brice my kindergarten accomplice, Stuart, across the street, and Ray, 5 years my senior, a brilliant artist.

“Oh -------,” I sighed, and then we fell to kissing again. This time I felt his tongue in my mouth. I promptly offered critique.

“Ew. I don’t think your doing it right,”

“That’s how grown ups do it,”

After that night, I never saw him again.

Ashley

His dad had died that year. First grade. I picked out a coloring book and crayons to cheer him up. A few weeks after he came back to school we were sitting in Miss Sigmund's music class. She left the room to go get something. Stefan sat next to me. He leaned over and kissed my cheek. I must have turned every shade of red. Everyone in the class was laughing and shouting for him to do it again. He did. I offered my cheek. Fast forward to 11th grade when we lived three time zones apart. He sent me a valentine.

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