As you may have heard if you live on planet Earth, one of the memes that is going around Facebook is “25 Random Things About Me.” (A meme is concept or activity that passes from person to person by way of the Internet, i.e., virally, and don’t worry, I had to look it up, too.) Number 23 on my list, it may not surprise you to know, is “I have lost track of how many guys I have kissed.”
Before you start thinking, “Slut!”, do realize that kissing may have been the beginning and end of these incidents, so I don’t have a similarly astronomical “number.” Realize, too, that my first kiss was at age 12, and, but for a 12-year period during which I was kissing just one person (not continuously…a girl has to eat, you know), I’ve been available for kissing since then.
My first kiss was at camp. A few of us were exhibiting early-adolescent curiosity, which translated to some experimenting with Spin the Bottle. One impetus for that was my attraction to my brother’s best friend Bobby Price, who I had known since I was 8 and he was 7. I think I’d always had a little crush on him, but we were starting to see each other in a new light.
(Here’s some video of 7-year-old Bobby, and 8-year-old BetsyG. I’m the one stealing the jacket; he’s the one whose jacket I stole.)
We played Spin the Bottle a few times as a foursome that included Bobby, my brother (ew, no, we passed whenever the bottle paired us), my friend Susan, and me. It was an innocent affair, involving nothing more than a peck on the lips between any non-brother/sister pairing. But then one night, I was “docked” from evening activity—movie night—and staying alone in my cabin. Some friends came to visit me, including Bobby and another boy. Within short order, a hairbrush was on the floor subbing for a bottle. I’d just read Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, and knew about a better game: Two Minutes in the Closet. (Lacking a closet, we improvised by using the bathroom.) It was during this part of the evening I experienced my first kiss whose length could be measured in something more than scientific fractional seconds.
Our party was broken up by a counselor who eventually came by to check on me (the camp was the den of iniquity…I’m surprised anyone even bothered), and the others returned to the movie. But I was transformed. A kiss! I was literally in a state of delirium—so addled was I by the lip-lock that I awoke in the middle of the night and found myself completely turned around in bed, feet on pillow.
I couldn’t wait to see Bobby the next morning. But on the way to flagpole for the pre-breakfast announcements, I heard some girls whispering. “Bobby and Missy were making out during the movie.” “I heard her overall strap was undone.” Missy was one of the girls playing Two Minutes with us, and was apparently giving Bobby more than I would have had any inkling to give.
That devastating beginning set the stage for my romantic future. The next boy I kissed was the most popular boy in my 7th grade class. I was surprised and flattered when he asked me out, but heard rumblings from my (many) jealous classmates that he was using me to get his hands on my precociously large chest. The rumors turned out to be true. During our one makeout session, Ben spent the entire time trying to unhook my bra. (I broke up with him the next day.)
Throughout my teen years and my 20s, I kissed countless other boys. Some of them became boyfriends, and some of them I wanted nothing to do with the next day. For the most part, though, they were boys I liked whose kisses were cul-de-sacs, leading nowhere.
Why did I swap spit with so many? One reason is that I love kissing. Not that I ran around indiscriminately smooching whoever happened to run into my lips (though it does seems that way), but I was probably a bit more eager than the average girl.
Looking back though, and understanding much better who I am, I see the high number’s direct correlation with my inflated level of optimism. Almost always I was hoping that the kiss marked a beginning of something, not the beginning and the end.
The number continues to increase, but at an exponentially slower rate. That’s not surprising, because with my increasing age has come a waning of both opportunity and of the naïve optimism that has so often led these lips astray.