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Carla, 13-yrs-old

His name was Paul and I met him at band camp. Well, choir camp. He may have been disturbed, but I always had a thing for the hard to get guys. We finally spoke on the last day of camp and decided to exchange addresses. Yes. Actual, physical, addresses.

We wrote letters for weeks before he asked me to be his girlfriend. I was thirteen and thrilled, he was 16 and tormented. But I didn't care. It was so romantic. I even kept all of his letters.

Finally my parents agreed to drive me out to see him. FINALLY And we went to the natural history museum. My ridiculous attempt at a cover for what I was sure was coming. And so, under cover of the planetarium, he kissed me.

I felt right and wrong at the same time. I had never been kissed, much less french kissed before. This, of course, was shortly followed by a clumsy attempt to feel me up that left me feeling dirty for hours...

In the end, it wasn't meant to be. The kiss was over and the magic was gone. I never saw him again.

Robert Calero, "A Few First Kisses"

A Few First Kisses

A courtyard kid's game of catch and kiss,
and I slowed down.
Caught by my neighbor,
we entered my stairwell
and pressed our mouths,
as if they were elbows or knees.
Afterwards, the other children laughed:
never intending
consummation of the competition.

Us kids crowd round the twirling bottle,
yet too young for postures.
Parents upstairs, little we cared,
and atop the tables were brown bowls
filled with brittle pretzels.
She was the first whirl: comical girl from Japan.
All sweat and odd knots,
our tongues felt foreign between each other's teeth.
We held hands for the evening,
despite our newborn itch.

She lay in my lap
as I sat on the curb.
The block was lined with kegs, grills,
young boys and girls,
we were all drunk on stale beer.
I sunk my neck to reach her.
Our inverted mouths met.
My heart and belly held warm wax
as our lips flickered like amber flame
about a twisted wick.
Once done she thanked me for her first
and I learned thirst.
One day we'd kiss in a torrent,
and like a Pavlov dog
I no longer mind the rain.

She spoke of Plato and Socrates
as she sipped her vodka & lime.
I offered to walk her home
but instead she led me to a bench
where the woods commence
of northern New York.
Her face was fixed with the perfect kissable mouth.

We woke in bed beside one another,
beneath the heated sheets of an august morning.
She slept and I pressed against her.
She woke with reciprocity.
We knew it was wrong
and it ended in departure.

Another returned.
We kissed knelt before my wooden porch door.
Neither of us knew what it entailed,
and perhaps never will.

I read her Joyce from my pillow
in the pre-dawn black of my bedroom,
all at her request.
Alongside my recital,
she found my kisses to be O so dirty.

At the tail-end of the party,
last one of the year,
we met and danced
and met once more.
She had a caramel complexion
and loved that I could keep tempo
between her rotund hips.
The last thing we exchanged was numbers,
and I never called her.

Lips, lips, and tender tongues.
Kiss & tell, everyone.

Naomi Major, "[sigh] Mark Holland"

I wasn't so much sweet sixteen and never been kissed as self-doubting sixteen and never fathoming a boy actually noticing me and wanting to kiss me. I spent most of my teens in fantasy, watching Molly Ringwald movies and imaging I too could be swept up by the cool guy and never have to worry about feeling ostracized again.

At high school in Toronto, I played in the concert band. Part of the program was to exchange bands with an American high school. The night the band from Evanston, Illinois arrived we all waited in the school gym to greet them, and that's when I saw Him. He was the most beautiful boy I'd ever seen. And he was popular; he was enveloped by friends laughing and joking; he didn't seem to notice he was in a foreign country surrounded by strangers. I thought I saw him look at me, but I knew I was mistaken.

They began calling out names. At "Mark Holland" he stood up. Instantly I thought of my options. Naomi Holland or Naomi Major-Holland. I thought he smiled at me, but I knew I was mistaken.

I wasn't mistaken. He did look at me. He did smile at me. And then during the four days of the exchange he talked to me. And then on the last night of the exchange he kissed me. We were at a party "slow dancing." Which in teenage terms means wrapping your arms around your partner and turning in a circle at a glacial pace. The kiss was perfect, even better than Molly Ringwald being kissed by Michael Schoeffling at the end of Sixteen Candles. It wasn't just that he wanted to kiss me, it's that he kissed me in front of EVERYONE! Everyone could see that I was worth kissing.

It turns out Mark Holland had a girlfriend back in Evanston. By which I wasn't just crushed, I was doomed: I spent years attracted to unattainable men who lived in far away places (but that's another story). Regardless of all that, when asked about my first kiss, I always smile, sigh wistfully and say "Mark Holland, from Evanston, Illinois."

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