Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kiss on the Corner



I had kissed other boys before him, but I will always remember this as my first real kiss.

I was invited by my slightly older, slightly wilder friend Hannah to a party on the Upper East Side. Hannah went to another school, and was, during my restless eighth grade year, a personal portkey to a fresh crop of boys. So that Saturday, I negotiated a 1 a.m. curfew and saddled up in my black cocktail dress and fishnet stockings.

As I write this, I suddenly recall the sweet feeling of walking into a crowded party, young and dressed up, self-conscious and self-confident at the same time. I hung onto Hannah's hand and scanned the room, and I noticed him right away--surrounded by an impenetrable phalanx of girls, he was intent on breathing nitrous oxide from a huge blue balloon. Hannah looked in the direction of my gaze, and rolled her eyes. "Christopher," she said succinctly. I couldn't stop staring at him; he seemed to be enclosed in a soft bubble of blond Catholic radiance.

All evening we passed looks and he winked at me, once. I lost myself in ostentatious conversation with another boy, all the while telegraphing, so I hoped, my diffident invitation.

It was Hannah who finally, impatient with the pretense, interceded on my behalf.

"Christopher!" she called to him.  "Leah's ready to leave, and you live right around the corner from her. Take her home." and to me, sotto voce, "he's yours!"  Hannah was just like that.

Christopher shrugged and put his suede jacket ("buttery olive green," I noted specifically in my diary that night) around my shoulders, and his arm over that, and we left together, and as easy as that, I made my first tiny conquest...

We kissed in the taxi--a real kiss, a soul kiss!--and his mouth held the sharp thrilling taste of whiskey. We kissed all the way home, and then he paid the cabbie and we kissed on my corner one last time, under the street lamp, and parted ways and I never saw him again, although for a week after that, my dress held his scent of soap and liquor and cigarettes, and, very very faintly, his boyish lust...

I quietly entered the house, so pleased with myself, with my victory, as innocent as any killing ever was.



photo by my grandfather, Maxwell Pollack

48 comments:

Brian Miller said...

wow. the last line...tight. liked the remembered description from the diary as well "buttery olive green"...nicely played leah...how goes the writing?

MJ said...

Whiskey kisses thrill me still!

Megan said...

Kudos to Hannah! Well engineered!

Ronda Laveen said...

Gotta love a guy who huffs N2O. Great story. It brought back many memories. Your grandfather's photo is astounding and fits the story so well.

Cinnamon said...

I like the way you make the distiction between 'first kiss' and 'first real kiss'. I though about writing about 'first kiss' but it was too awful to give room back in my memory!

have you still got your diary from back then? *impressed*

Leah said...

Brian--the truth is I spent two pages describing exactly what he and I wore that night. It is more than a little embarrassing...

MJ--me too! Oh, me too.

Megan--I've noticed that several important milestones in my life, including meeting Sarge, seem to have been engineered by girls other than myself...a theme, if you will.

Ronda--I like that photo too--my grandad was a photographer--but my copy was tiny, so the resolution isn't great...

Cinnamon--My other first kisses were somehow less memorable...and I still have all my diaries from the past! They are SO humiliating! But they do jog my memory...

Jimmy Bastard said...

"...his boyish lust" Nicely written, and so very well unwritten also. I like the way you take us so far, and then invite us to use our own imaginations.

Now that's writing!

Mr. Condescending said...

I want to kiss someone now!

But without whiskey breath:P

PI said...

Gosh you were a confident young lady; entering a room of people used to scare me stiff. I enjoyed kisses but then they were hard and firm
a la Stewart Granger and Clark Gable.
Slobbery wet ones were not very desirable. Fashions change I suppose. I'm sure your soul kiss was heavenly:)

Leah said...

Jimmy, thank you. I tried to keep it understated. Well, understated-ish...

Mr Condescending--you don't like whiskey breath? But it's so romantic!

Pat--I was confident, at times. Sometimes a little bit overconfident, I think. You know, I think you are right, there are kissing fashions! How funny.

mapstew said...

Just wonderful missus!

xxx

savannah said...

well done, sugar! i love this image

So that Saturday, I negotiated a 1 a.m. curfew and saddled up in my black cocktail dress and fishnet stockings.

and then the taxi ride? a west coast girl's 8th grade dream of nyc sophistication. xooxo

Marianna said...

Cool first real kiss story!!!! Bravo :)

xoxo

otin said...

You never saw him again? Was he stupid??? LOL! Great story!!!

Baino said...

Awww . .we all need 'wingman Hannah' what a treasure! I wonder if he's on Facebook? (One of my 'thrills' is and I've never had the courage to make him a 'friend'.

kylie said...

oh boy, you can write


and i'm all a flutter just imagining it :)

California Girl said...

Wonderful writing Leah. Great memory and your brought it to life. I was right there with you! Funny line: "personal portkey to a fresh crop of boys." Hannah sounds like she always had your back.

Leah said...

Map--thank you, I hope it was fun to read. And you called me "missus"! I love that.

Savannah--I thought I was the height of sophistication too...actually in retrospect, those cabs made it so much safer for us, I'll bet my mom and dad were glad of them. But the ride from the Upper East Side all the way to Brooklyn was a long one, and it must've been hell of expensive, now that I think of it!

Marianna--thank you--it was sort of (I say sort of) fun to remember.

Otin--it was like a chaste one-night stand!

Baino--what's funny is that I still remember his last name! But better to leave him where he is--in memory only.

Kylie--what a nice compliment! I've been lately remembering and turning things of the past over and over in my mind, aided by my beastly diaries. I was so puerile it hurts.

California Girl--Hannah was awesome, straightforward and mature. A great person to know at that time, she always cut through the bullshit. I recognized it even then, at that tender age. I think she's a lawyer now.

subtorp77 said...

Well done, leah. Tho' you must have been very creative in wrangling a 1AM curfew! I like the corner shot, as well; blends in nicely, it does...

Betsy said...

Those old diaries..so fun to go back and remember!... And years later, see what was really important to you at the time. Love that you spent pages describing your clothes! :)

VE said...

Nice, I like it. But how'd you know I buttered all my green olives?

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Good morning Leah,

A very nice reflective look back (in time) through the eyes of a woman who was that young girl.

U

nick said...

Good job Hannah was around to bring you together or you would both have gone home frustrated and cursing your shyness! I can't remember my first kiss at all - well, it was rather a long time ago. The important thing is that I still love kissing, after zillions of them....

Tell you what annoys me, though, it's the way people in movies always go Mwerr whenever they kiss. The vocal accompaniment is not needed, guys!

willow said...

Fabulous last line!

Candie Bracci said...

Oh sweet memories!Nice post!:)

Debo Hobo said...

"As I write this, I suddenly recall the sweet feeling of walking into a crowded party, young and dressed up, self-conscious and self-confident at the same time."

Gosh I remember those times so well. Just yesterday I was trying to remember when all that self-confidence left me. I need to go out and make a conquest, however small; I just need to get out there.

reyjr said...

It's kinda weird and interesting to hear a girl say stuff like this. lol.

Rita said...

Wow! What a great story. Reminded me of a boy and a time ----- oh well best not go there. But, a great memory.

Leah, thanks for the lovely comment on my kissing post. Despite all the spelling and grammar mistakes. I must admit I was quite embarrassed when I signed on today an reread what I had written. I did something I should never do, which is write something when I am just too tired to think.

I have fixed all my mistakes now, and thanks once again for the visit.

Roy said...

Hmmmm... A clean Erica Jong story - The Zipless Kiss! Heh, heh! Although I'm still amazed that you guys didn't trade phone numbers or anything.

And yeah, that photo at the top is great.

J A Harnett-Hargrove said...

First times aren't always such wonderful memories....grear closer. -Jayne

Leah said...

Sub--not soon after that, my parents gave up on curfews altogether! I guess they thought it would be easier than arguing.

Betsy--I have one whole bookshelf of my old journals, dating back to seven years old...it can be quite an experience to re-read!

VE--I could just sense that about you!

U--you're right, I hadn't thought of it that way--it's a young girl's experience filtered through a woman's eyes.

Nick!--OH you too on the vocal accompaniment in movies! I cringe every time they go in for the kiss--it's so gross, I completely agree.

And it's wonderful to still delight in those kisses, isn't it. Better now even than it was then...

Willow--thank you very much!

Leah said...

Candie--thank you! I liked going over that memory in my mind...

Debo--I had exactly the same thought as I was writing it--little conquests are the essential to keep one sharp and happy and alive. The question is, what is each person's little conquest, right? Maybe you'll write about yours!

reyjr--so, I wonder, is it very different for the boy? I'm curious.

Rita--thanks for stopping by here! And I wouldn't worry about any mistakes--they didn't detract!

Roy--hah! It's been aaages since I'd read that, thanks for reminding me...I think it would have been almost disappointing if we'd traded numbers--I was just a very very young girl, and then I might have had to have a reckoning!

Jayne--you are so right, they're not always. First kiss, first sex, can be sort of traumatizing. I was lucky on both counts...

Wings said...

Quite a memory... Very personal.

Thanks for sharing that with all of us! ;)

Kris said...

I remember mine, and it still makes me blush.

mapstew said...

That's 'cos the lovely Sav called my Ma 'Missus' today! I didn't think y'all got that in 'merika!

xxx

merelyme said...

Leah! I am still, "More! More! Go on!"
Your writing is poetic, entrancing, and sublime.
Continue...
You are amazing.

merelyme said...

Oops! FANTASTIC photo!!! I see all your greatness is inherited.

Skeeter said...

A great description of that moment in time. Very nicely done.

Best wishes,

Skeeter

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Geeze, I was such a stumble bum on my first kiss. I salute all those girls in my past who had to tolerate my clumsy fumbling until I learned what, and what not, to do.

Scarlet-Blue said...

Oh Christ, now I've remembered my first kiss. I think I need a whisky...
Sx

Leah said...

Wings--personal, yes, but so very long ago that it seems now like it happened to someone else!

Kris--I blushed a little as I wrote this...

Map--we do in some places--not so often said in deepest Brooklyn tho--

merelyme--your words are always appreciated. Seriously. Thank you for stopping by and reading...xo

Skeeter--thank you! It's so nice to see you!

UB--comfort yourself that they probably didn't know what they were doing either! Although I suppose the learning curve is pretty damn fast.

Scarlet--sorry sweetie! Another time I'll share the memories that have driven me to whisky too...

supernana said...

damn I wish I grew up in NY. My first kiss was in a car on Hollywood blvd. Keeping it classy in California!
great post!

Karen ^..^ said...

Ahhh... You are such a wonderful writer. Your writing takes me to that party, to that excitement of seeing the object of your affections there, and the thrill of riding home with him in a cab... And that kiss.

Perfect. I've really enjoyed this.

You had BETTER write a nice, trashy romance novel, and give it a nice dark twist. I'll be first in line to buy it. You've got a gift, girl.

Maria said...

Sweet, sweet danger. And the Catholic boys were always best.

mapstew said...

And did ya know Stewart Granger's real name was James Stewart?

My Da was also James Stewart. We had great fun with that as kids!

xxx

Leah said...

Supernana--you had me laugh out loud at "keeping it classy," just the perfect way to put it. However, I think a car on Hollywood Blvd sounds magical--I suppose it's all in the power of the unknown!

Karen--it's in the works, my darling girl, it is most certainly in the works. xo

Maria--what is it about the Catholic boys? Especially to me, a Jewish girl. And I should know, I married one...

Map--I did not know. And your dad was James Stewart? However did he overcome the reputation that preceded him? ; )

Dot-Com said...

Oh that was lovely! So innocent and yet not at all. The satisfaction of getting what you want :-)

Kate said...

Lovely post (I realise I'm a little late.)
And as regards whiskey kisses, Its nice to know I'm not the only one :)