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