“Come on, it’ll be fun. Besides, you’ve had a crush on Patrick since third grade.”
“No I haven’t.”
“It’s not a big deal, everyone knows.”
“He doesn’t,” I argued.
“Oh, I think he does.”
And with that, Ally convinced me to go to the new James Bond movie with Patrick and Steve, two boys from school. It was 1973. We were thirteen, and Ally desperately wanted a boyfriend.
The four of us fumbled into our seats with popcorn and cokes. I had no idea which seat to claim, so I kept moving down the aisle until Patrick stopped me.
“Do you want to sit here?” Patrick pointed to the seat next to Ally.
“Um, sure.” I let him squeeze past me.
He stepped on my foot, and it hurt. “Oh, man,” he said. “I’m real sorry, are you okay?”
I wanted to grab my poor toes, but I didn’t. “Yep,” I said, my voice high. “I’m okay.”
Patrick gave me a smile that was both grateful and apologetic.
There wasn’t much room between our seats and the row of chairs in front of us, so once Patrick sat, he kept moving around, adjusting his long legs. He looked crowded and uncomfortable.
“Do you have enough room?” I asked.
What a stupid question. Obviously he didn’t.
“Oh good. I’m good too.” I wanted to smack myself. Could I sound like a bigger idiot?
There we were, me and Ally, sandwiched between two boys, a real double date. About halfway through the movie, as Roger Moore made out with Jane Seymour, I saw Steve’s arm reach around Ally’s shoulders. I pretended not to notice, but when Steve leaned in and kissed her on the mouth, I turned my head and watched. Wow. They really looked like they knew what they were doing. I thought that Ally had never kissed a boy before, because I certainly hadn’t. Clearly I was wrong.
I glanced at Patrick and was relieved to see him focused on the movie and popping Junior Mints, unaware of what his best friend and my best friend were doing. Trying to ignore the passionate kissing taking place next to me, I shifted in my seat, but that caused me to bump into Patrick. He looked at me. Then he noticed the kissing. He leaned forward and looked as I pretended that I didn’t see him looking at what I wasn’t looking at, even though I was sort of looking, too. How mortifying. A minute later Steve and Ally left their seats and went to the back row.
“Guess they want to be alone,” he whispered, staring straight ahead.
“I guess so.”
We went back to watching the movie. Just when I was starting to relax again, Patrick reached around the back of my seat, and his hand lightly touched the skin on my upper arm. I caught my breath. A boy, a cute boy, the boy I’d been pining over since third grade, had his arm around me. My heart thumped so loudly I could hear it. Patrick smelled fresh, like soap and baby shampoo. An image of him showering popped into my head. I wondered if he could smell me, if he was imagining me taking a shower. The thought made me feel tingly and creepy at the same time.
Patrick kept his arm over my shoulder. Whenever Jane and Roger kissed, he glanced at me and smiled. One time, when his face came close to mine, I turned, and we accidentally bumped noses. Both of us laughed. Then he leaned toward me, and his lips touched mine. I had watched plenty of kissing on TV and at the movies, so I pretty much knew what to do. I moved my lips lightly against his. We lingered and kissed, and his fingers stroked my arm. I loved it. But then it stopped. Patrick pulled his arm away and returned to the movie. What was I supposed to do now? Did this mean that I was a bad kisser? Was I expected to initiate the next round of kissing? Would he? I felt lost, left in limbo, dying to know what Patrick was thinking. I sipped my coke, and stared at the screen.
Then, another kissing scene, a steamy one. Patrick’s arm went around me again, and he began giving me more of his gentle kisses, his lips cool and smooth like fresh sheets on a summer night. I closed my eyes and put my hand on the back of his neck, winding my fingers between his soft brown curls like I had seen on TV. Patrick must have interpreted my touch as encouragement, because his kisses came faster, and I tasted a hint of chocolate from the Junior Mints. I pulled away and licked my lips. Patrick looked at me, his eyes held a question.
“Chocolate,” I said.
“Yeah.” He smiled crookedly. “A chocolate kiss.”
The theater darkened more as the Bond car sped into a tunnel. I could barely see Patrick’s face, but I felt it close to mine. As our lips met again, he put his hand on my bare leg and touched my thigh lightly, hesitantly. I shivered, and goose bumps rose on the surface of my skin. I felt his hand slide smoothly up the side of my leg. Then suddenly his mouth opened and, to my horror, his tongue slipped into my mouth like a slithering serpent.
“Oh!” I stood up, knocking over a half-eaten bucket of popcorn.
“That! What? What were you doing?”
“I was kissing you,” he whispered. “I thought you liked it!”
“I did until you did, put your, you know, that…”
People turned and stared and snickered.
“I’m sorry,” Patrick said. “Just sit down, okay?”
But I couldn’t. I was too embarrassed, not to mention shocked that another person’s tongue had been in my mouth! I grabbed my sweater and ran out of the theater. I sensed that Patrick was behind me, but I never turned to look.
Later that night, Ally called. She felt sorry for me, but sorrier for Patrick. Steve told her that Patrick had gone straight home, locked himself in his room, and wouldn’t talk to anyone.
“It’s French kissing,” she explained. “You’re supposed to use your tongue.”
“I didn’t know.”
“Yeah, well, that’s obvious.”
I avoided Patrick for the rest of summer. I turned down swim parties and trips to the mall. I refused to hang out at the park, go to a movie, or get an ice cream at Swenson’s. I could not risk running into him, my humiliation still burning inside me like fire with an endless supply of fuel. But I thought about him constantly – his hair, his hands, his lips, and his soft, sweet, chocolate kisses.
(Do you have a “first kiss” experience that is funny, horrifying, romantic, or whatever? Please share!)