A week or so ago, my wife put a Robert B. Parker book on my nightstand, into a 6" high pile of "recommended" reading. She told me I'd enjoy it, and so far I have.
In this little book, Spenser is telling Susan about his early years, and she listens intently, with the customary banter which always transpires between them.
The part that really grabbed my attention, as Spenser relates the upbringing which led to his perfection, was the experience of his first kiss. I had to think of my own.
I was certainly a "late bloomer". When I entered the University of Texas, I tested into an advanced standing freshman English class. Coming from a small town, I felt exceptionally proud of having achieved what should more likely be achieved by students of larger, more sophisticated schools.
There was a girl in that class, and we tended to make certain that we sat next to each other. Almost invariably, she sat to my left, and, every time, I would notice the diamond ring she wore. Diamond rings meant something, didn't they? The girl, whose name was Liz, was probably the same age, or certainly no more than a year older than I, but she gave all appearances of being a WOMAN! We hung around together quite a bit, walking across campus to our next classes, and discussing various topics, but the friendship remained platonic. I may well have been the most timid person on the campus.
I had a girlfriend "back home", and we maintained a regular communication by mail (back in those days, snail mail was the norm. Nobody had email). After going for about three months with this girl, who lived over in Lake Jackson, about forty miles from my home, I finally worked up the nerve to say to her, "How about we kiss goodnight for a change?" (You can't imagine what a shy, late bloomer I really was). The girl, whom I'll call Fain, because that was her name, got an excited twinkle in her voice and said, "Should I turn out the porch light?". After she turned out the light, we mutually pecked each other briefly on the lips, and continued that same ritual for the few times that we continued to date. I will never be able to consider those kisses with Fain as being my "first kiss".
When I returned to my English class from Christmas holidays, as usual, Liz was sitting to my left, and one of the guys walked up to her asking, "Liz, are you engaged now?" I was shocked! This beautiful creature who had been my buddy for most of this semester, whom I thought had been engaged because she wore a diamond ring, had been unattached all this time, but now she wasn't! She had become engaged on a holiday trip back home to Chatham, New Jersey.
Once, when a test had been passed out, Liz took a quick look at it, and exclaimed, "Ohhh, Bill!" My infatuation had thought enough of me to use my name as an expletive!
At the end of the semester, Liz was leaving school to return to New Jersey to get married, and we were sitting in my car in front of her dorm, when I timidly asked if it would be legal to kiss the bride in advance, since I couldn't be at the wedding. My buddy replied, "Of course it would!", and moved in for her kiss.
OMIGOSH, THAT was my first kiss! From then on forever, I knew how a girl should be kissed, and have been enjoying the process ever since.
Liz and I communicated by snail mail for some time after that, she told me that her engagement and wedding had broken off, but she never came back to school. She got a job with the state of New Jersey, in the Motor Vehicles department, and bought herself a new 1955 Chevrolet. I kept a photo of Liz in my billfold for a long time, and I kept a photo of her car on the visor of my 1949 Chevrolet. My friends sometimes made fun of "Bill's getting his rocks off on a picture of a car".