First Kiss / Colleen Breen

It was 1993. I was 12 years old and all I could think of was my first kiss. I was academically great. I knew it. I had the validation of straight A’s in every class, and they were too easy for me to get. But when I thought of how it would be to kiss someone there was no logic or equation to use to ensure a successful answer. My anxiety and shyness led to answers only provided by movies and teen trash magazines. I didn’t dare ask someone; I was sure everyone but me already knew how to do it.

So here I am on the school bus going home. The bus ride (only on the way home) had its own unique ecosystem separate from in-school dynamics. Towards the end of the ride, lines were crossed—cliques meant nothing. You could could see Tony DiRoccai talking to Barbara Gross (she never had a chance). It was laid back. All rules were off. Boredom + Pre-Teen Hormones - Peer Opinion = Fewer Social Norms. Let’s say k (a non zero constant) /B + P - PO = L. This is the equation I thought of while I crammed my head into a textbook to pretend to study so I didn’t have the pressure to contribute to the topic of the day. And lately it had been how to kiss and then trying it out. It was an unspoken rule that this would never get out. Doing so would lead to confessing to each others’ peers that we broke clique standards. It was bus world, our safe own world. Still I struggled to get involved.
His name was Tony DiRoccai. He was stereotypically gorgeous in all the best ways. He was Italian, tan, and had a constant glow of charisma that just emanated from him. He already kissed four girls on the bus, including Barbara Gross. According to Junior High hierarchy I had every right to do it with Tony with no repercussions, but tell that to a 12 year old girl who thought that you insert a tampon while still in its container (I later found out that I was wrong, the hard way). There was still too much to lose.

I had to prepare. That’s what I understood. If you do enough research you can master anything. I trained with the best information I had as an introverted “Brain Head” (a very clever nickname given to me by Kelly Rotkins). I doubt she could say multi syllabic words. I treated it with the scientific method. I had the question, but didn’t have the research to construct a hypothesis.

Back then I had no internet and couldn’t find an instruction manual at my local library, so I had to go into the field. I listened in to girls at the bathroom and during study hall, but the best gossip was during Pizza Fridays in the cafeteria. Unlike the inverse relationship on the bus, this phenomenon had a direct relationship. G=kPF.

It was there in the line that I heard Alaina Drommed tell Faye Deloki that she practiced with a pillow before she kissed Brad Hopkins. I tried it. I just got dry-mouth and choked. It was there in line that I heard Brai Kromft said if you really want to be a legit French kisser, you have to be able to tie a knot with a cherry stem. I tried it. I didn’t succeed, but my tongue did go numb after an hour.

It was there in line waiting for a d-grade pepperoni pizza slice that I heard Amanda Dobbins proudly proclaim she practiced with her 2nd cousin, and saw nothing wrong with it. I didn’t try this. This was the first time that research did nothing for me.

I had to take a chance.
It was 3:45pm on the bus. We were 2 stops from Tony DiRoccai’s house. I was ready as best as I could. Like any 12 year old girl, I prepared by dressing the right way. I wore my Dr. Martin shoes that I saved up for. I borrowed my dad’s jeans, so they were really baggy, and covered my shoes just enough that it looked like I was wearing the pricier Dr. Martin Boots. To cap it off, I wore my “Bush” t-shirt. I bought it, not because I knew who they were or liked their music—I saw it in Hot Topic, so I figured that meant it was vetted as cool. I looked reckless and so wanted to feel it in that moment.

Knowing that this was the day I would kiss Tony, I put my head down so I could hide that I was dry brushing my teeth with a travel toothbrush. I stood up, and walked towards him. I awkwardly sat on the opposite seat due to the bouncing bus. “Janesey The Brainsy,” he called out with—I swear to god—a star shining on his teeth.

He made a rhyme up for me. Oh my freaking god. He made a rhyme for me. Oh my god, he’s been thinking about me. At least as long as it takes to come up with a nickname. He’ll probably want to date me after we kiss. From now on we’ll have to sit together to and from school.

I’d have to change the table I usually sit at during lunch. I’ll have to study later so that I can go to his football games before hand. Blinded by the—I swear to god was a shine from his teeth—he said “So Jane you want to try. I’ve kissed everyone here.”

This was it. “Tony” I said “No, thanks, I’ve seen you kiss so many times you probably have a STD on your tongue.”

Amongst the preteen laughter of dissing someone, my heart slowing fell to the ground like a feather on a summer breeze. Summer break started soon after that day. I had my first kiss when I was 17 years old.