The Second Kiss
This piece was inspired by true events. First published on OpenSalon, and now enjoying a second run on Tumblr. Enjoy folks!
Thankfully, the second kiss was better. It happened at church camp, which was funny, because my first kiss had also happened at church camp the previous year. The first hardly counted though; it was more or less a dare. I was forced to kiss my bible study counselor, Matthew, while he was sleeping. He was disgusting and hairy and didn’t even wake up.
I spent every summer at church camp since I was eleven. My dad was atheist while my mother was a former catholic. However, religion became the cure-all for my siblings— as we grew up in a predominantly Christian community. Our friends were always going away to religious summer camps, so my parents, wanting to shed their immigrant status, followed in the footsteps of their American parenting peers.
That’s where I met Jesse. He was a red headed guitarist with a pig nose. I didn’t even notice the pig nose, but my friend Dottie did. She pointed out his porcine deformity to everyone she encountered, including him. He was less than flattered, and immediately took a disliking to both of us— me, simply by association.
I suppose I had a thing for pig noses, because I couldn’t stop thinking about him. He played in the youth group worship band, so I was able to swoon over him twice a day during group congregation. I wondered about what it would be like to kiss him and to have him write me a song. Instead of thinking about the holy trinity and why homosexuality was a carnal sin, I daydreamed about Jesse playing the guitar for me. I fantasized about us sharing a tent together, sleeping next to each other, listening to each other’s heartbeats. I was fifteen, give me a break.
After evening prayer one night, I saw him by the bathrooms, and that’s where it happened.
I know. It seems impossible to be romantic near any type of bathroom, especially one that was frequented by smelly dirty children, but it was.
We were both washing our hands in the outside sinks. I tried my absolute best not to look at him or that pig nose that I had come to adore.
The funny thing was, I got the strangest sensation that that’s what he was trying to do as well. We were both avoiding each other, yet we continued to lather and rinse for what felt like hours. It was weird and wonderful. There is no doubt that we were partially responsible for California’s drought in the 1990s.
Eventually, he turned his faucet off and wordlessly grabbed a paper towel from the dispenser. I was crestfallen. This was turning out to be quite anti climactic. I turned the faucet off too and was reaching for the towel dispenser, when he pulled one out for me. He looked at me with this adorable little half smile. My heart jumped out of my body and sprinted out into the woods. It was one of those perfect little moments that movies make millions of dollars off of. Without a doubt, Jesus was hooking it up for me.
I took the towel, looked at his pig nose, and told it, “Thanks.” Eye contact was too difficult.
He nodded, “You’re welcome.” I’m pretty sure I peed a little in my pants. It was that unnerving.
Then he turned to walk away. Truthfully, I didn’t even need the kiss at that point. I was ecstatic simply to have been acknowledged. Nor did I really mind that he was leaving, because I was already too far into the reverie of my future with this towel. Maybe I would frame it or put it in a scrapbook for my grand children. Perhaps, I could auction it on ebay to someone unlucky in love. No, wait, what was I thinking. It was priceless. I would never part with it.
My crazy consciousness was so lost, that I didn’t even notice when Jesse returned moments later and was staring at me. I looked at him, finally realizing that he was actually there. I also realized that I was clutching the towel to my nose and sniffing it like a coke addict. I prayed to God that I hadn’t been talking to myself. I have a bad habit of doing so, and things were not looking too good on my end. I released the towel, and it floated to the ground.
As I was about to say something, anything—- ideally, something along the lines of, “I’m not this crazy! I promise,” he just swooped in and grabbed me. Swoop. His hands grabbed my cheeks as he bent down to kiss my lips. It was soft. And premeditated. I could tell because his breath smelled of peppermint Altoids. My lips were chapped from hiking all day. But neither of seemed to mind. This was, indubitably, the climax of my adolescence.
The whole thing lasted for thirty seconds. There was some tongue, which was also soft and then a briefly awkward situation with his erection jamming into my thigh. I didn’t really know the protocol to handle the situation. They did not teach erection etiquette at church camp. As soon as I felt it, I jumped back. I had never felt one before and thought he had kneed me in the groin.
Jesse turned beet red. His pig nose snared wildly in shame. He was fifteen too and probably not the most experienced kid on the block.
He mumbled, “Sorry”, then sprinted away. Before I could call out, “It’s okay. I love you. Please marry me,” he was gone. I watched him run back to his cabin. I could still smell the faint aroma of peppermint in the air. Eventually, I picked up the sullied towel and returned to my cabin, hearing only the faint drip of the faucet behind me.