Category

Adolescence

“An Absent Detail” Terzo

Introductory, Secondo

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“Hmm…”

I stalled, trying to come up with the perfect thing to say to resolve the situation.

“Let me show you something here on the computer.” We walked over to the desk and I plopped down into the office chair. I signed into my Facebook account and pulled up an old photo that someone had tagged me in from high school.

It was a bit grainy, as pictures of pictures tend to be, but you could still clearly see the group of us girls, arms over shoulders, the lot of us grinning widely. “See that? That’s Mommy.”

“Yes. And is that Aunt Maggie?” she inquired, pointing to a girl who looked absolutely nothing like my sister.

“No, that’s just another girl with blond hair. That’s me my friends after we did a play. That’s Katie, Jen, and Leslie.”

“Wow. Cool.”

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The Kiss (Trois)

Un

Deux

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Finally, the boys started coming in, looking Long-Island-90s preppy. I looked at the sea of plaid shirts that was before me. Almost all the guys looked the same in their button-downs and baseball hats, so choosing would have to be based on more than their looks, which would require much more detective work. I walked back over to the only two people who I actually knew at the party.

“So, what do you think?” Liz asked me, pouring herself a cup of lemonade.

“Think about what?” Her cousin asked.

“Don’t worry about it, Mark. Kirsten’s just looking for someone to hook up with.”

“I just want to kiss somebody,” I said, not wanting there to be any confusion about my intentions.

“Oh,” Mark rolled his eyes, “I’ll leave you girls to it then.” He walked off and was quickly engulfed amid the waves of teenagers.

“What about [insert generic boy’s name here]. He’s cute. Nice, I guess. He keeps looking over here too.”

“I trust you.” What the hell? They all look the same anyway.

“Consider it arranged.”

In a few minutes I could see Liz out of the corner of my eye talking to a boy and trying to motion discretely with her chin. He WAS pretty cute. I was glad I had put my trust in he;. It would’ve taken all night to deduce a contender by actually talking to all of them. Generic white boy, you are the chosen one.

I tried to play it cool, as I knew he was looking in my direction. I poured myself a cup of lemonade, all shaky and uncool, in order to look busy. I heard a voice from behind me, confident and strong. I had found my polar opposite! “Hey,” he greeted me as I turned around. Liz tells me you’re one of her friends from Stony Brook. That’s cool. Kristen, right? I’m Mike” (?)

I tugged at my hair and fidgeted in my own skin for far too long. “It’s actually Kristen. Uh, I mean Kirsten. Whoops.”

“Ha. Do you wanna… umm…”

“Hmm?“

He wasted no time. “You know, go to the other room?”

“What?” Over a decade being friends with Liz, and I wasn’t aware of the other room.

He smiled coyly and led me over to a door in the basement that led to the boiler. The other room?

It was pitch black and free from any ambiance. I sat down on, well, I’m not quite sure. I felt like a live flounder was flopping around in my belly. I heard the sound of another couple kissing in a different corner of the room. “Comfortable?” he asked.

“Uh, yeah. I guess.” That fish wouldn’t stop wiggling.

He sat next to me. Herewegoherewegoherewego…

 

Continued…

The Kiss (Deux)

Continued from The Kiss (Un)
the big night
When the big night came, I brushed my teeth 30 or so times. My gums were sore, but it was all for the greater good. I chose my sweater-turtleneck-jeans combo carefully. I didn’t wanted it to look like I tried too hard, but try I did. I brushed my hair and swept it up into a messy bun. The full-length mirror revealed the reflection of a little girl. “Next time I see you, mirror, I’ll be a much more seasoned young woman.” My stomach did a little flip-flop at the premise.

I got to Liz’s house about an hour before everyone was expected to show up. We carefully constructed a game plan for the night. My stomach growled as I stared at the chip bowl on the coffee table. “No!” I scolded myself, “No one wants to kiss a girl with sour cream and onion on her breath!”

“Okay,” Liz was saying, “so you’ll just give me a signal, I don’t know, wink or something, when you see some one you’re interested in. I’ll get this done, don’t worry about it.”

“Okay!” a nervous laugh escaped me.

“And don’t do that.”

“What? Laugh?”

“Is that what that was? You sound like a hyena doing jumping jacks.”

I tried to picture the scenario. “I get it. I’ll try to play it cool.”

We sat on the couch in her finished basement watching some made-for-tv movie that starred a somebody from 90210, but even that couldn’t catch my eye. I couldn’t concentrate on anything but my impending kiss.

Her cousin showed up first, the one who I really wanted to make out with, followed by a group of girl friends, who greeted each other with loud yelps and jumps, as though it had been years since they’d seen each other, as opposed to the three and a half hours since school had let out.

Continued

The Kiss (Un)

I was 14 and had never been kissed.

Well, a peck on the lips while playing “truth or dare” under the snack bar at the cabana beach, but not a real kiss. Not the one where someone else’s slimy, wet tongue invaded your mouth, thrusting itself barbarously. Not the one where two people’s saliva commingled in a ritualistic, germ-infested dance. One where you needed to awkwardly tilt your head, as not to smash your noses against each other. I hadn’t had THAT.

And I wanted that SO BAD.

I wanted to be desired. Coveted like Brittany Cohawks, who everybody talked about in awe just because she got a haircut over the summer and probably because she grew boobs. Big whoop. I had seen Brittany in the locker room before swim class, her beige-colored bra tossed casually on the bench, displaying padded cups that made up for 75% of her chest size.

I knew I had to come up with a plan of action. Should I forgo weekends spent having sing-a-longs with Jackie, Saturdays riding my 10-speed throughout the neighborhood, lazy afternoons spent playing Barbie dolls with my little sister, give it all up to have a boyfriend? It just seemed illogical.

I complained to Katie, to Sarah, to any friend who would listen to my sad story: I hadn’t and WANTED to kiss a boy. It was in discussing this drama with Liz that a course of action was devised. A party. One with girls AND boys. I’d surely find some dude there who was willing to toss this girl a little tongue. After all, Liz went to a different school, so there’d be new blood, so to speak.

 

Continued

Kiss
How I envisioned it…

Blue Bicycle

bike

It was propped up against the interior wall of my garage, awaiting a long journey down tree-lined streets, through neighborhoods where children played freeze tag on their front lawns. The bike was fueled by those laughs and yells of playfulness, or, more accurately, it’s driver was. The shiny powder blue steel bars that formed the frame were strong, yet delicate; its brown wicker basket practical, yet dainty. In my mind, I rode that bicycle everywhere.

Growing up in Strong’s Neck, our bikes were equivalent to freedom. At 9 years old, with a simple, “Bye Mom, bye Dad!” I’d leave the house, climb onto my 10-speed, and go.

I hadn’t made any defibicyclenite plans.

My parents hadn’t set up a playdate.

I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be.

I set off for Tara’s house first, one of the only other girls in the neighborhood. She’d open her door and come running out in a flourish, as though she’d been waiting by the front window for me to arrive all morning. Together, we rode up the street to Karl’s, the wind fluting in my ears.

He was already outside with his sister, but stopped talking to her mid-conversation when we pedaled up his drive. From there, we went to several other houses, collecting friends to join our platoon along the way. We rode our bikes for a couple of hours, then usually went over to someone’s backyard, where we’d play until the sky became sooty and Mom called for dinner.

The neighborhood gang would dissipate one-by-one, hopping on bikes to head back to warm suppers. The next day would inevitably repeat this same pattern.

My bike was my freedom back then, and I looked at it now- chrome gears and untouched pedals- and saw it as freedom as well. Someday.

blue bike

Nobody Likes New Year’s (the 1st of 2)

New Year's
Tick-tock, tick-tock…

Expectations.
Disappointment.
Expense.
Awkwardness.

The best one’s that I recall were those when I was a child; sitting cross-legged on the bed with Laura, watching Dick Clark count down the new year while our parents danced and ate and did adulty-things in the grand ballroom at Hôtel Le Chantecler. We were exhausted from a full day of skiing, but found it within ourselves stay awake for the big moment: a new year!

When midnight struck we yelled and threw homemade confetti all over the room. We found bits of ripped up colored paper tangled into our hair for days afterward, and it was beautiful.

As time moved forward we stopped going on our annual ski trips to Canada, and Laura and I parted ways on New Year’s Eve, to hang out with our respective friends. When I was a senior in high school, I went to a party at Melissa’s house. She was one of my best friends, so I had made arrangements to sleep at her place after the festivities.

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Collection

The visual is clear when I close my eyes: the blue canister that had once been used for coffee grounds, but was now the perfect vessel for my collection.

I had scrubbed the inside of it with fervor, using the Ajax that was “hidden” under the sink. My mom would’ve had my head if she’d known that I was sifting through the chemicals and cleaners there, but my pig-headed passion for getting the can clean drove me to renounce the guidelines set to keep me out of harms way. I had all at once felt rebellious and obsessed with the notion of making it spotless on the inside.

The canister still reeked of the bitter scent of coffee, though, and it burned in my 8-year-old nostrils.

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First Date With a Friend (Segment D)

The Final Chapter: At the Concert

Segment A

Segment B 

Segment C

Concert

The screams of 50,000 ecstatic fans filled our ears before we even entered Shea.
“Glory Days!”
“Dancing in the Dark!”
“Born to Run!”

People at the concert kept yelling out the names of The Boss’s most popular songs, hoping they’d be played, not taking into account that the set list had been created and maintained throughout the entirety of his tour so far. Though I wasn’t the hugest Springsteen fan, the excitement of being in the stadium amongst the uproar of the people and in the presence of such a popular figure was thrilling. Chris and I walked (a little on the wobbly side from our earlier cocktails) to the doors and handed the man our tickets. I half expected him to say that they were no good, but he instead pointed out our seats, far closer to the stage than I had anticipated.

“One of my Dad’s patient’s gave him these tickets,” Chris said in a voice that was meant to sound like a conspiratorial whisper, but was instead a strange hushed-yell, attempting to be heard over the crowd. We made our way down and took our seats momentarily, then popped back up with the rest of the crowd to sing (shout out what lyrics I knew, make up others) and dance (what some might call convulsions on my part). We laughed and smiled and made googly eyes at each other. He was just a friend, but…

As Bruce performed his signature, “Born in the USA” for his second encore, I looked up at Chris, who caught my eyes in his own. I stood up on my tiptoes and I kissed him. I kissed my friend.

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First Date With a “Friend” (Segment C)

Segment A

Segment B

 

When Maggie cargot home, nine minutes late, I was already in the car. “Get in,” I said through the open passenger-side window, sounding remarkably predator-esque.

“What?”

“Get in the car; I’ll explain on the way.” Now I was beginning to sound like a marauder who’d just finished off a bank heist. After a hasty explanation of the plan and a promise of 50% of the payment when I received it from the Morgans, I was on my way back home.

When I pulled into my driveway, my insides screamed. There, in back of my mom’s sedan, sat an unfamiliar silver Honda Accord. Shit! How long had he been here? Did my mom say anything embarrassing? Are there going to be baby pictures of me naked in the tub out on the coffee table for him to peruse? I took a breath, hoped that my face had returned to a normal color (rather than the fuschia-shade that it tended toward when I was flustered), and opened the front door.

“HeysorryI’mlateIwasdroppingmysisteroffattheplacewhereI’msupposedtobedogsittingIhopeyouweren’twaitinglongsosorry-” My mom, thankfully, cut me off from my nervous, incoherent rambling.

“No, no. Chris and I were just talking about your plans to see the concert tonight. It sounds like a lot of fun.”

“Yeah, I haven’t been here long. We should probably get a move on though, if we want to make it on time. Thank you Mrs. Anderson.” He was so freaking polite. I kept my mouth shut tightly this time and nodded, then kissed my mom goodbye.

We jumped in his car and were on our way. The radio was playing Kashmir. “Oh! I love Led Zeppelin!” I was thankful that my voice had toned down in volume and speed.

“Yeah- great song,” he replied. “I figured we’d stop at a liquor store on the way in to grab some drinks for our journey”

God forbid a couple of 23 year olds didn’t have alcohol while participating in an activity.

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First Date With a “Friend” (Segment B)

Find Segment A here.

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“Why? Is something going on?” I tried to lighten up the mood by feigning obliviousness.

“Um, yeah, I mean, kinda. I got these tickets to go see Bruce Springsteen tonight at Shea Stadium. We’d have to leave in, like, an hour and a half. I know it’s last minute, but I was going to see if you wanted to go with me. I remember you saying how much you liked music, so…”

How could I pass up a live concert?

“I’ll see what I can do and call you right back.” I knew that I couldn’t just blowoff dog-sitting, so I needed a plan. But first I had to call my best friend.

“Hey,” she answered on the first ring.

“Hi. Chris just asked me out.”

“Inevitable. What did he say? What did you say?”

“It’s for a concert TONIGHT. I told him that I’m not sure and I’ll call him back.”

“Well, do you want to go?” Such a simple, yet impactful question.

I thought about it for a second. “Yeah. Yeah, I want to go.”

“Then go.” She was always able to get to the answer in a quick, non-wishy-washy way that I appreciated.

“Okay, thanks. I need to hang up then so I can come up with a plan of attack and to get myself together.”

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