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I remember it clearly, that long awaited kiss, my first real open-mouthed glimpse of all that lay before me. The possibility gripped my stomach and tormented my psyche; many daisies picked, many petals plucked.
I was 12, desperately curious, innocent of deed though not of thought. I imagined celluloid 1940’s black and white poses, dramatic, passionate and achingly romantic.
The reality was the front room of a suburban semi in Dublin. I was staying with a cousin. She was thirteen and wore a bra. Her friend had a free house for the evening and a game of Spin the Bottle was planned.
We sat cross-legged in a small circle of eight; boy, girl, boy, girl. The host was in painful and unrequited adolescent love with my cousin and awarded her the honour of first spin. So the game began. I watched, waited, anxiously wondering when I might be picked.
An hour and a half passed and all but I had been kissed. I was at that awkward stage of being not quite one thing or the other; my body plump with an excess of baby fat, my hair, lank and greasy and my smile, metallic . In retrospect, not such an alluring proposition for any potential suitor.
An hour and a half passed and all but I had been kissed. My heart sank on each revolution. It became apparent that certain measures would have to be taken. So following a toilet break I repositioned myself within the circle and increased my floor space by widening my very loosely crossed legs and before long the bottle neck came to a pointed, but definite stop, by my right grazed knee. Finally, I had control and I chose my heart’s desire.
We left the circle and went to a corner of the room. Every one stared as we stood face to face. Kisses were timed, a mere thirty seconds to make an impact, the countdown chorused by the group. Clumsy, wanting, eager I pressed my lips upon his and my tongue jutted into his mouth. I was drenched in the reality of the occasion, the smell of his cheese and onion crisp scented breath, his skin doused in Old Spice, the clash of teeth, the feel of his tongue battling mine and then the abrupt push away when zero was reached.
Breathless, victorious, I returned to the circle knowing my life had unalterably changed. Things would never be the same again for, despite the sorry nature of the event, I had been kissed. I had kissed.
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