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Erin Roof, "Tongue Techniques"

"I don't like tongue."

I wrote this in a letter to Clay - the kind filled with circles instead of dots and lots of loopy handwriting.

I was in 8th grade and still a member of the ever-shrinking group of girls who had yet to get their period, grow breasts and, most importantly, experience their first kiss. There wasn't much I could do about the first two, but I decided that night at the school dance I would orchestrate my first smooch.

"I don't like tongue," I wrote in the letter. I had no idea what a kiss with tongue felt like, but I knew Clay had kissed girls before and I didn’t want him to see I was inexperienced. Maybe I was worried our tongues would get stuck in the braces filling our smiles - smiles so shiny I thought they could be seen from outer space.

The entire note was filled with detailed description and heavy hinting about how the kiss should go down. I passed him the note before 7th period. All I had to do now was wait.

I got ready for the big dance in the bathroom of the public library where my mom worked. It was packed with other girls spreading huge clumps of mint green eye shadow across their lids. I was getting butterflies, but played it cool. I didn't want anyone to know I hadn't kissed yet.

But during the first slow song of the dance, I was so nervous I thought I would puke. Clay wrapped his arms around me and we swayed together, not really sure which one of us was leading. I couldn't bring myself to look at him.

It wasn't until that last R. Kelly song filled the gymnasium that I looked up expectantly. He leaned in toward me and our open lips smashed together. Just one time. I was too nervous for another try.

We hugged goodbye as the lights came back on. Walking toward my mother's car waiting outside, I no longer felt like a child. I was too young to realize that was a horrible feeling.

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