Some boomers’ memories fade. But not Santa Barbara psychologist and author Diana Raab. Because of Valentines Day, we are sharing her story of The First Kiss. It might remind you of your own.
My first kiss was in the basement of my childhood home. I was ten years old and my parents were out for the evening, so I had invited ten other kids over to hang out. It was a co-ed group and we made our way to the stereo system, which was hooked up in the basement. It wasn’t long before the idea came up to play the game of “spin-the-bottle.” We all convened on the floor in a circle. It was halfway through the school year, and I already had a crush on the cutest boy in my class. His name was Eric. He had curly blonde hair, dimples and the bluest eyes I had ever seen. Even though he lived around the corner, inviting him over seemed to be the only way to get within inches of him.
We sat in a circle, in what we then called “Indian style” on the linoleum floor, and placed an empty Coke bottle in the middle. We spent the first fifteen minutes giggling because while we were excited to play the game, some of us approached the game with terror. What would happen if we had to kiss the ugliest guy? What if he gave a wet kiss? Did we keep our eyes open or closed during the kiss? What would we do if a boy’s hands wandered down to unbutton our blouse?
With a certain amount of trepidation, I spun the bottle. It was the 1960s and a unique time in history. Our class was heavily influenced by the music of the time. We shared in the excitement of the Beatles having just appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, the songs of Jimi Hendrix, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones. In fact, the song “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” played when the bottle spun.
I giggled as my eyes moved from one boy to the next. I teased them with my green eyes. Already inspired by the works of Jackie Collins, reading her books under my covers at night, I was starting to understand some of the basics of seduction.
I was one of the more popular and gregarious girls in our class, and had been told that I could probably get any guy I wanted, but the one I wanted played hard-to-get. My eyes made their way around the circle twice and then finally stopped at Eric’s. When our eyes linked, he tossed a broad smile, displaying his deep bilateral dimples and the shiny silver braces that covered all his teeth.
I smiled back, my braced smile meeting his. We already knew how to flirt with one another and make us want one another in the most suspenseful way. I had once read that the best way for a man to be with a woman is to make her feel that you love her without really showing it. Eric seemed to do this naturally.
As luck would have it, the bottle slowed down and stopped spinning as it pointed to Eric. I wiggled in my spot as my strapped sandals wrapped underneath my orange pedal-pushers. I got onto my knees and slowly crawled in Eric’s direction. I felt everyone’s eyes on me. My movements felt slow motion. Eric moved his own crossed legs backwards out of the circle, with his eyes still fixed on mine. I raised my pointer finger and motioned him towards me. He stopped and waited for my approach.
I moved towards Eric, closed my eyes, and placed my lips on his, but realized that instead of our lips touching, our braces did. Not only did they touch, they linked. While wiggling, we both felt danger and my heart began to beat faster. While moving our faces in opposite directions, we were unable to release ourselves from one another.
My mind raced at the possibilities, particularly what I would say to my parents. I had promised I would have just one friend over while they were gone and here we were, a circle of friends playing spin-the-bottle. To no avail, Eric and I continued to move out of our position. I imagined us walking up the basement stairs, out the door and down the street to knock on the orthodontist’s door. My heart beat faster and faster.
Within moments, all our friends gathered around us, nervously laughing. They gently nudged our shoulders and released us from one another, but not without scars. The insides of our mouths were ripped to shreds and we sat thinking how we would explain our new look to our parents.
We laughed for about ten minutes, and then glanced at the wall clock which reminded us that my parents would be home momentarily. I sent everyone home and Eric stayed with me in the basement. He took my hand and brought me to the vinyl sofa in the corner and tossed me down and began kissing me. We quickly figured out how to kiss with braces.
Still in a daze, I heard a key enter the back door, signaling it was time for Eric to leave. Before I could tell him what to do, he leaped out of the basement window and onto the driveway. The events of that night were spoken about for weeks and years to come.
Fast forward to a few years ago, when we celebrated our 40th class reunion. Those of us who were there recounted the events of that night. The laughter ensued and we realized that no matter what life-stage we are in, the power of humor sustains us. In fact as we grow older, what really matters is kisses, love, and the memories that offer perspective and relief from the challenges of growing older.
Diana Raab, PhD is a memoirist, poet, thought-provoker and author of 8 books and over 1000 articles. Psychologist. Her poetry book, Lust, was inspired by this story. Her book, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Program for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life is due out in September 2017. For more information.