It’s Never Too Late To Change Your Mind
I experienced my first “real” kiss when I was the tender age of thirteen. I had braces and so did he, that fact has little to do with the utter disaster that it turned out to be, but it adds just one more awkward detail. I went to high school in a really small town, so to say that I meet him at a friend’s party just a few weeks prior isn’t exactly the truth, since we already knew of each other’s existence, but that field party is where I had my first interaction with Mark (let’s call him Mark).
Mark was a couple years older than me, he’d had a few too many beers and he was quite upset over a girl (the girl wasn’t me, not yet anyways). Apparently, I took it upon myself to soothe his tortured soul or maybe I just have a knack for making a bad situation better. Either way, I calmed him down some and from that point on we started talking on the phone. You know, those long conversations that are anxiety ridden and full of long sighs and giggles.
I was on the phone with him, waiting on hold, while he broke up with his girlfriend on the other line (at least that’s what I was told by a mutual friend of ours) and then he asked me out on a date. I didn’t know what to say, I felt like saying yes committed me to a feeling I wasn’t even sure I had yet, but all of my friends convinced me to say yes. He was a cool, good looking guy and although not the first guy to ask me out it would be the first “real” date I would agree to.
The date in question would take place at my brother’s graduation party. Another field party, only this time the field was in my Dad’s backyard. Of course, I had to go to the actual graduation ceremony and reception and my brother hadn’t exactly provided me with a plus one, so I was to meet Mark at the after party. Let me just preface everything I am about to say with the fact that I was nervous beyond belief, I STILL hadn’t decided if I actually wanted to go out with this guy, and I was feeling all sorts of internalized pressure to just go ahead and do this thing. I couldn’t back out now, there was too much on the line.
By the time, my brother and I got home for the party, it was already well on it’s way. The bonfire was lit, the tents were set, and our friends were already having the time of their lives. Have I mentioned that when I’m nervous, I tend to plow right through it and jump in head first, so to say, to get past it as fast as possible, because once it’s happening there’s nothing to be nervous about, is there? When I spotted Mark standing next to my best friend Marianne and her boyfriend, I headed straight for him and after about thirty seconds of small talk, I asked him if he had set up his tent and if he wanted to show me where it was. I hadn’t exactly thought this plan through, all I knew is that I wanted to get away from all the prying eyes, so I could get comfortable with my date without the added pressure of an audience.
Hell, he must have thought he was in for a good night. Marianne and her boyfriend went into their tent, which was right next to Mark’s, while we ducked into ours. I wish I could remember the conversation that took place or what led to him lying on his back while I rolled on top of him and leaned in for my first kiss. I didn’t have much to compare it too, and in retrospect I’m sure it was a fine kiss, but the anxiety didn’t vanish like I expecting it to and it only made me feel worse. Much worse. All I could think about was “how do I get out of this?” and that exactly what I proceeded to do. Straddling Mark I sat up and called out to Marianne and asked her whether she was still in the tent right next to ours, and when she answered, I excused myself for a minute and went an hid my sorry ass in their tent.
Let me tell you, I’m sure her boyfriend didn’t exactly expect me to burst into their tent and immediately burst into tears, but he was a nice guy and they both proceeded to console me and asked me what the hell was wrong. The only thing I was able to mutter through my tears is that I didn’t want to continue the date I was on and whether one of them could go and tell him. Marianne, great friend that she was took it upon her fourteen year old shoulders to go and tell this boy that after luring him into his tent and proceeding to kiss him, I was hence forth no longer interested in pursuing this date we were on. Oh, I’m sure she did her best to break it to him gently, but no matter, because Mark developed the biggest hate-on for me from that night on.
The kicker is that I was way too ashamed to leave Marianne’s tent afterwards and I didn’t want to rejoin the party or make a b-line for my Dad’s house, because that would still require I pass by the bonfire. Just to put a finishing touch on my two friends’ night together, I staid in the tent with them much longer than I was welcomed. They were nice enough not to let it show, but that probably didn’t count as one of their best nights together.
After what seemed like an eternity, but in fact was probably no more than an hour, I grabbed all the courage I had left and went back to the party. Boy oh boy, did Mark ever shoot me the meanest glares in the world. Can’t say I blame him either, if he had done to me what I did to him, my self-esteem probably would have been shattered to itty bitty pieces for the rest of my life. From that night on, he did his best to ignore my existence and OBVIOUSLY I developed a huge crush on him for the better part of the next year.