My friend Marci, of scenic Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, gives me this blogging assignment straight from a recent late night game of Truth or Dare*:
“Tell all about your first kiss.”
Frankly, I wish there was more to tell. I could scintillate you with romantic details about any number of first kisses with this guy or that guy (for example, smooching a cute Dutch backpacker, whom I had met at the youth hostel and had known for all of perhaps three hours, beneath a sky full of fireworks in Orleans, France, on Bastille Day**), but the details of my Very First Kiss Ever fall a bit short of schoolgirl fantasy.
I was 13, I think. I was away at camp for the summer. Not just your normal “cabins-by-the-lake” sort of camp, but Sea Camp for brainy kids on Georgia’s beautiful (and primitive) Cumberland Island. We dug our own latrines (where we had to chase ghost crabs away before we could do our business), “bathed” in the surf, dissected a shark, cast nets for our dinner, and ate mussels that we dug up out of the marsh mud and boiled ourselves. We each had to come up with a science project involving the native ecosystem. Mine was about the locomotive apparatus of living sand dollars. It was my first long trip away from home, and it was a turning point in my life in terms of confidence and ambition. If you ever get the chance to send your kids on such an adventure, do it.
But back to the kiss.
It was free time, and we were swimming in the ocean, killing time between our lesson on the microscopic life of tidal pools and a planned moonlight hike through the island interior. There were around a dozen of us, boys and girls, and on this particular day, we were playing Truth or Dare. I can’t remember anything that happened before it was Blair’s turn. He chose Dare, brave boy. So quickly that I’ve always suspected it was arranged ahead of time, his friend said, “I dare you to kiss Katrina.”
So he did.
We were all standing shoulder deep in the warm coastal water, and it seemed like Blair was moving in slow motion as he made his way over to me. The kiss was mercifully quick, a mere peck, and then it was over, leaving my lips tasting of salt water. A little anticlimactic, I thought. And a lot more public than I imagined my first kiss would be.
Later, as we walked down the beach, Blair told me that he liked me. Clumsily, we held hands. I think he kissed me twice more before camp ended, each time an echo of the first–short and sweet.
Years later, forced to recount the straightforward details to girlfriends in yet another Truth or Dare game, it occurred to me to be embarrassed that the guy who gave me my Very First Kiss Ever was named Blair.***
*Which is an interesting coincidence, as you will see.
**Don’t tell my high school French teacher, who was supposed to be chaperoning us. It’s not her fault, anyway. I was incorrigible. And seventeen.)
***No offense if your name is Blair. It just didn’t jibe with my teenage ideal of a romantic hero. He was supposed to be named Max, or Derek, or Jack. “Blair” makes him sound like one of those obnoxious rich kids from “Pretty In Pink“.