"Yeah, of course I did," I lied.
I lied again. "You know...over there...behind the portables."
"Um, like...last Wednesday...maybe before that." Lie number three.
"Decent. Good deal, bud."
It was the autumn of 1976, I was fourteen years old and she was my first girlfriend.
Everything happened so quickly. I saw her at a high school football game or in the hallway or something and told my friend Jeff that I thought she was cute. Actually, I probably said something like, "See that girl over there? Her name's Stacy (not her real name). She's such a fox."
Before I could say "bubbling hormones," word had gotten back to me that yes, Stacy liked me, too. Angela, a girl in my social studies class, had reached back and grabbed the PeeChee off my desk and returned it with the words, "Tim + Stacy = Luv4Ever" scrawled right between the three white dudes running track, the two white dudes playing football and the one white girl playing tennis.
As Angela slid it across my desk, she whispered, "She'd totally go with you."
"Go with me where?"
"Ha, you're so funny. Here's her phone number. She wants you to call her tonight." Angela turned back around and started playing with her hair.
But I wasn't joking. I hadn't spoken a word to this girl and now we were going together. And I had to call her—tonight.
In those days, "couples" enjoyed a status that soloists did not. In the parfait that was junior high society, securing a girlfriend meant rising from the chunky, lifeless depths of the Jello-O parfait to the wispy clouds of full-fat Cool Whip which laid claim to the top stratum and enjoyed a panoramic view of its world.
Couples were invited to skate parties and special cafeteria tables. They held hands and walked through the pungent straw-covered mud of the Fall fair, eating corndogs and slurping down cotton candy with a faint FFA show pig aftertaste.
I liked that idea. But Lord have mercy, this boy was terrified.
When I called her later that evening from our loan phone which offered slightly less privacy than O.J.'s Bronco, I had to censor each statement to align with the protocol of both this strange girl and my mom, who pretended to be watching All in the Family.
From the moment Stacy's and my arranged marriage ensued, I became fully incapacitated. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. Before each nightly call, I would examine myself in the bathroom mirror to ensure that my hair was nicely parted and feathered. Come on, now, you have to look good on the phone, right?
After a week spent adapting to a humming bird's heart rate and splotches of stomach acid which leaked out of my ears and onto the pillow each night, I resolved to up the stakes.
I would kiss Stacy, goddamn it.
My friends had been pestering me into further detail of our couplings, and I was weary of constant fabrications. So I planned.
I would do it when she walked me to a pre-season basketball meeting after school, which fortunately was to be held in one of the portables, nestled on a semi-private area of the school's periphery.
Had I kissed a girl before? Absolutely. But this was different because she was my girlfriend—we were an item—this had to be passionate.
I'd seen some of the other, more experienced boyfriend/girlfriend combos kissing before they parted ways and it was no Ward Cleaver peck on the cheek. This was full-on, twenty-second Hollywood-style tonsil tango.
And I was scared shitless.
Nonetheless, I was determined to freaking kiss Stacy by the freaking portable before the freaking pre-season basketball meeting. I felt warning signs of cardiac arrest as we slowly made our way toward Coach Hofeditz's classroom—clamminess, dry mouth, a heart which now simply heaved like a huge giblet stewing in a crockpot of adrenaline gravy_—but I slogged on.
Ironically, I chose a moment when we were actually speaking to each other to make my move. Most of our conversations were sparse, but this one was actually gathering steam when I cut it off like scissors to a skin tag.
My head lunged at hers, similar to JFK's head after the second gunshot, clumsily jerking and angling. Her alarm apparent, I nevertheless smothered her mouth with mine like a honey badger to a mound of termites.
No other body parts touched except our mouths. I eventually disengaged with an unnatural glitch slurp sound, trailed by a string of ropey saliva which eventually severed and slapped against my chin.
We separated and spoke a few words to each other, none of which I remember since our bodies had each entered a protective state of shock. I slunk into the portable, dazed and highly traumatized, yet finally cognizant of the legal term, "temporary insanity."
She broke up with me the next day, so I threw away the PeeChee.
Stacy, wherever you are, I have but one wish. Years later, on your wedding day, when you married the man of your dreams, my greatest desire is that the minister did not lean forward and announce to your new husband:
"You may hug your bride."