At the age of fifteen I was beginning to realize I’d accumulated great wisdom on entering the terrible teenage years. It was quite apparent parents in general needed counsel from those of us young and intelligent, so they’d be more in tune with the way things should be done in the ‘now” generation. It was only at a much later age I noted with satisfaction my parents had benefited by counsel I’d been able to give them over the years. They seemed much wiser from the vantage point of 30 years of age. Then the awful realization hit me, it was I who’d changed, and my long suffering parents would be granted a golden crown in heaven for tolerating this smartass teenager.
There was something lacking in this accumulated wisdom however. I knew little about the amazing transformation girls undergo from childhood to teen years. Girls were childhood playmates who didn’t mind playing ball, roughing it on campouts and climbing trees. Their unusual interest in dolls, and other strange childhood feminine behavior was swept aside as we enjoyed shared kid stuff during the day. We were buddies!
Then I began to notice a change, and this took us young ‘men’ by surprise. Games which had previously been a mixed affair took a different turn. Traditionally team members had been chosen based on a buddy’s ability to hit the ball or run faster than the others. It really didn’t matter to any of us at that time whether team mates were boys or girls.
Now a change was apparent. There’d been a gradual desertion from the rough and tumble to the sidelines where animated conversations could be heard while boys played. I glanced around one day during a ball game to see a group of girls laughing, pointing in my direction and prodding one of the girls. What was going on?
Some of my young ‘men” friends noticed this and smiled the smile of enlightened ones who’d found a new weapon of torture, and a victim to use the weapon on. They possessed big brothers, and big brothers are the key to unlocking mysteries. They were primed with new found knowledge and determined to use it with finesse. The poor girl and I were subjected to a barrage of torment over the next few weeks. This had the opposite effect than what was intended for both of us. We never spoke to each other again.
Now my Mother seemed not to have noticed this change in relationship between these childhood buddies; the boys and girls of our neighborhood. She continued to host parties for the ‘youngens’ at our home, but there was now an apparent wariness between the two camps. The girls would play, but when they retreated to their corner of the room they’d cast appraising eyes over boys lined up on the other side. I’d seen that look of appraisal in the eyes of my Father Eric whenever he’d gone to livestock sales. He’d check out all features carefully before buying an animal, and then take it home in triumph at the end of the day. His mood would be upbeat for days afterward.
Then one evening at a games evening hosted by Mother I acquired the desire of all mankind. Enlightenment! It wasn’t necessary for me to spend years in an ashram in the Himalayas, or to read deep philosophical books to gain this enlightenment. It just dawned!
We’d reached the end of the evening and I was looking forward to everyone departing so the family could get on with the crowning event of the evening. Bed; and sleep. My Mother had other ideas. It appeared Mabel (let’s call her that to protect her privacy) lived at a distance from our home, and Mother thought I should do the gentleman thing and walk her home to make sure she reached her destination safely. Now this gentleman thing is a ruse Mothers and women in general use to manipulate men. Not to be a gentleman was unthinkable! I grumbled and went.
At this point I’m sure I have your undivided attention. Let me assure you the twenty minute walk was conducted in an air of respectability. There was some polite conversation, and an appropriate distance between the two of us all the way to her home.
We reached her home and I politely wished her a good night and turned to go. Mabel spun me around by the shoulder. I could see she meant business and trembled in my shoes as I saw her stern look. “A gentleman always kisses a girl goodnight when he escorts her home.” This was not a suggestion, it was a command!
Now in that era the mention of kissing girls to a group of early teen boys was an invitation to the “gag” and “gross” comments of today. I believe you have to address a group of five year olds to get that retort now. I was riveted to the spot. Would this bring me more torment from the guys? My actions would be faithfully reported to all the girls I knew in detail, as that’s the rule. Once the girls knew, the boys would come to know. Further more, Mabel was two years older than I and that was a huge gap in age. Like kissing your Grandmother! Lightning strike me!
Mabel saw my hesitation and snorted in disgust. She needed to hurry inside to bed and I was holding things up. This is not the way for a gentleman to act! She seized me and planted one on my quivering lips. I thought I’d die! But do you know? I didn’t die! A warm glow enveloped my whole body and a group of Angels escorted me onto cloud 9 where I sat strumming my harp for what seemed like a lifetime. I’ve no idea if and when Mabel went inside her house, though I suspect it was seconds after the warm fuzzy was delivered.
I floated home on my cloud and entered our house with a goofy look and crossed eyes. My Mother looked at me in alarm. “What happened?”
“Nothing happened!” I gasped as I groped my way to the bedroom to retire for the evening. I spent most of the night staring at the roof through the darkness. My heart was racing a marathon and I wanted to see it win the race. This was enlightenment, and it felt good.
Now I’d like to report that Mabel and I became firm friends after that shared experience to satisfy the needs of those romantically inclined. In truth she departed soon after to another state and we lost touch. But I’ll be forever thankful to Mabel for that first kiss. It enabled me to understand what the appraising look was motivated by in human beings, and to be ever on the alert for another hoped for time in future when Mother would ask me to do my gentleman thing and take a young lady home. After all, who wants to deliberately hurt their Mother?
Ah that first kiss!
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2012, all rights reserved”