Saturday, January 19, 2013

Story Time: First Romantic Kiss

My first “romantic” kiss occurred in the early Spring of my last year of high school. Her name was Annette. Everybody called her Annie. I called her “The most beautiful, wonderful, smartest, funniest and caring person in the world that I ever met.”

Yes, she was amazing.

Her and her family moved in just a few houses down at the end of the summer. Relocating from Lancaster, Ohio to Chillicothe to accommodate her father’s employment. I saw the moving truck when it arrived, I just didn’t see her until the morning of the first day of school.

I could have driven that morning. As it is, on good days, I preferred to walk the five blocks to school. I left the house and made a right turn on the sidewalk and began my trek. As I approached her house, she was emerging with a book bag draped over her left shoulder. My first thought was simply …. “WOW.”

Her long strawberry blond hair nesting perfectly on her shoulders. One side extending about six inches in front and the other, six inches down her back. I remember it like it was yesterday. Mostly because, you tend to never forget the first time someone takes your breath away. I stopped just in front of her gate and watched as she skipped down the porch steps showcasing a warm and friendly smile. “Good morning.” She issued, reaching for to open the gate.

“Please,” I ushered in response, “allow me.”

“Aren’t you a gentleman.”

I closed the gate behind her. We started walking side by side and as expected, made our small talk with introductions and the “Where are you from” routine. Shortly into it, I requested to carry her book bag for her. She replied, “Thanks, but I can do for myself.” And yet, she didn’t say it like she was offended or anything, just a matter of fact. I countered with, “Yeah, I know that, but anybody that sees us will wonder why I am such a schmo for not carrying them for you.”

She must have found that to be a clever retort because she paused and grinned while shaking her head. “So, it’s a saving face kind of thing then?”

“I suppose.” I recall saying.

She didn’t hesitate to hand it over. “Then here, I wouldn’t want to be the cause of your reputation being destroyed. Your chivalry is appreciated.”

I think we both were kind of taking our time to walk to school. Our pace slowed down the closer we got to the doors. Once I opened them for her, I handed her book bag over. “You’re leaving me here?” She questioned.


I had to explain that while technically I was something of a jock, I liked to hang out in the mornings across the street prior to the bell with my “hood” friends. You know the ones, the party animals. She thought that to be odd. Everyone knows that in high school, you have your groups. The hoods, the jocks, the nerds, the Goth’s, the cheerleader’s, the loner’s, and so on and so forth. The fact that I got along with, and had friends from all of these groups impressed her. And the fact that I always found different times of the day to spend with each of them was probably more impressive.

She gave me the “See you around.” departure and I ran back across the street to get the ribbing from the guys after they saw me walking with her. That was to be expected. And that first month of school suddenly got very interesting. I walked her back and forth pretty much for the first week until she made friends with some other people and I gave her some space. I also discovered that she had no intention of having a boyfriend. Now, one would think this would indicate she was perhaps a lesbian, but that was not the case. She was just focused on what she wanted in life. Grades came first. Friends came second “and quite frankly“, as she told it, “guys are nothing but distractions.” It would seem that she had plans. Big plans. And I admired that.

So we were friends.

Oh sure, there was the occasional sneaking over to my yard and talking to me through my window in the late evenings after school. I ended up placing a chair outside of it so she could sit while I was sitting on the window sill inside. I don’t know why I never went outside to talk to her, she just liked it that way and to be honest, so did I. It prevented me from making a fool of myself or doing something stupid like, leaning over and planting an unexpected kiss on her lips like I wanted to do right from the moment I first laid eyes on her. But this girl was one hundred percent class from head to toe, inside and out.

And OMG! Did she smell so good.

Soon, we got a little closer when I injured my ankle and knee in a football game. I knew the moment it happened that my athletic career was over. Football, basketball, baseball and even track and field, done! Kaput! Fin!

I think she took it harder than I did.

But the days, weeks and months passed. Holidays came and went. I bought her a special Christmas present. She always wanted a necklace with her birthstone on it. (She was a Leo too, like me. Born the day before I was, and she always made light of the fact that she was OLDER than me. Albeit, only about 24 hours older, but still.) And she bought me a book. This is significant because her family wasn’t really wealthy or anything. They weren’t poor, but she did have a little brother and in order for her to go to college, they needed to save every little penny they could. She did eventually get a part time job to help contribute to that cause. She wanted to get into politics. Go figure.

We hung out on the rooftop of my house on New Years Eve looking through my telescope at the stars. We were bundled up under layers of shirts and coats and drinking hot cocoa from a thermos. You would have thought we would have kissed by now or on that night, but we didn’t. She did, however, ask me if I would attend her Aunt’s wedding in mid-March. She explained that she didn’t want to go alone because she worried she would get hit on and stuff by a bunch of strangers and what not. She said that by taking me, guys would leave her alone. (It made sense at the time.) So I said yes, even though, I wasn’t a big fan of weddings. And she knew of my reputation by then. She had heard all the stories about all the girls I messed around with. Even the older girls I would bring to the school dances. They were 19, 20, up to 22 years old. Once, I brought two girls to a Spring dance when I was 17. They were both 19 years old.

She made it a point that we would just be friends.

Finally, the day arrived. I walked out of my house all dressed up in my Tuxedo. I walked to her house to meet them and we rode to the wedding with her parents in their car. Prior to that, as I walked up to the gate, she reached over and started adjusting my tux. “Don’t you look handsome.”

Her mother found it adorable. “You two look so cute together.”

We arrive and as I anticipated, I felt like an outsider. But through it all, she stood by my side and when they were saying their vows, she slid her arm under mine and held my hand. Then afterwards, at the reception, we sat together at the bride and grooms table. And when it was time to do so, we would get up and dance. (Slow dances only)

About an hour before we left, we walked outside and roamed the grounds. We ended up on a picnic table off in the short distance in the lawn area of this reception building. At last, for the first time that day, we were alone. This is when our conversation turned to the events of the day. We discussed weddings and marriage in general. She wanted to wait. I wanted to … well actually, I never wanted to get married. She found that amusing. “Really? You don’t think you would ever get married?”

I was positive. “No. I just don’t see it happening.” And I paused for a moment before I said it. I turned to her and gazed into her beautiful blue eyes. “I would probably marry you though if you ever asked me.”

Suddenly, my heart stopped. What did I just say?

I think hers stopped too. She took a deep breath. We stared. I wanted to apologize or something because I thought I said something wrong. But before I knew it, she reached out and cupped the side of my face. She kept staring at me and smiled. She leaned in and kissed me. I thought about using the tongue, but caught myself in time. I just went with it. It was soft and tender. It lasted for about thirty seconds. She pulled away and then …. She broke my heart. “I wish I was in love with you.”

We remained friends and kept in touch for a while after graduation. When I returned a few years later on leave from the Navy, her and her parents had moved back to Lancaster. She spent two years at Ohio State and took her Junior year off because of an ailment that she never detailed for me, or so she said to me in a letter. I never did ask her about it.

While on leave, it was arranged for me to go visit her on my 2nd day in town. However, I couldn’t get a rental car until Monday and it was Saturday. My parents couldn’t loan me theirs because they had plans. I had sold both of my cars when I enlisted in the military. Luckily though, my brother’s motorcycle was stored in the garage. It was stored for the winter and this was about a week before Christmas. So out of my need to see her again, I decided to ride my brother’s motorcycle all the way to Lancaster from Chillicothe. (About an hour drive) Halfway there, it started snowing. Mostly just flurries. Still, it was butt cold freezing. She thought I was completely nuts. Maybe I was. I was completely nuts for her.

I had dinner with her and her family that night and they invited me to stay over on the promise that the next day, her father and I would load the motorcycle in his pickup truck and he would drive me back to Chillicothe. This sounded good to me. And Annie and I stayed up all night just laying in front of the fire talking. This is when she revealed to me that she was engaged. To be wedded that Spring. She removed the ring from her pants pocket and showed me. She took it off earlier so that I wouldn’t see it. She wanted to tell me about it first.

So we just ended up holding each other in our arms. Me stroking her hair for hours. We didn’t even kiss that night. The next day, her father drove me back home. I went back to see her the day before I headed back to Norfolk, Virginia. This time, I drove a car. I had gotten that rental. We drank a few beers and snuggled again in front of the fire. I kissed her on the forehead before I left around three in the morning. The last thing I said to her was, "Too bad you're not in love with me."

She silently agreed with her eyes.

On the plane back to Norfolk, I thought about her all the way. I ended up writing her a poem that I never sent. I called it, “I would Give You My Life”

A few years after I left the military, I was in Chillicothe. I bumped into an old high school friend and we rehashed the old days. We soon ended up talking about old friends and what they were up to and Annie’s name came up. About four or five years had passed since I last saw her. My friend was also good friends with her. (Everybody was) He pulled out a picture of this little boy and girl. Twins. She never sent me one because we never wrote each other after that last night together.

They were beautiful. Just as I would have expected her children to be. Then he told me, after I asked what she was up to these days. “Dude, Annie passed away a few months ago. She died of cancer.”

That must have been the ailment she referred to.

What you’re feeling right now, multiply that by a million. That is how I felt when he said that. I went home that night and cried for hours.


(Here is that poem I wrote for her:)


I thought a lot about it
And I decided that I need you
I can’t go on without it
All your precious love

Yes I know how you feel
And you know how I feel too
But if you asked my darling
This is what I would do

I would give you my life
I would make it right for you
Give you all I had
Just so I could help you see life through
Why do our feelings have to be oh so hard to control?
And are they true?
All I know my darling is
I would give my life to you

I’m sorry that it happened
I wish there was something I could say
The words of love I’ve spoken
Us ending up in this way

Yes I know how you feel
And you know how I feel too
But if you asked my darling
This is what I would do

I would give you my life
I would make it right for you
Give you all I had
Just so I could help you see life through
Why do our feelings have to be oh so hard to control?
And are they true?
All I know my darling is
I would give my life to you

And if you asked my darling
I would give my life to you

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