Posted by: Rob | June 3, 2008

First Kisses – A Remembrance

Annie’s meme about First Kisses and the resulting comments got me to thinking, reflecting and remembering. I left the following comment on her piece in response:

My first kiss had an international flavour. I think we were both about four or five years old. Her name was Lori Orrendorf and she lived across the street from us. She had a younger brother Billy who, my dad always quipped, “looked retarded”. The international flavour derives from the fact that they were an American family. My memories are vague now, but it seems she had the hugest crush on me and would run over and kiss me every time I saw her. At that age, I wasn’t overly thrilled about it and any lip to lip kisses would have been of the closed mouth variety. The only concrete memento I have of those days is a grainy black and white snapshot of her reaching up to kiss my cheek as I faced the camera.

After that, despite having a girlfriend named Mandy in first grade and assorted crushes over the next few years (Renée, Susan, Sherry, Robynne and Stacey) and a girlfriend Kerri, I had what you could call a kissing drought. (Probably because I was a very shy guy.)

Until I was twelve, turning thirteen. My dad had purchased four lakeshore cottage lots and combined them into two home building lots. He built a house for us on the one and a house on spec on the other. The people that bought the spec house moved up from Welland, Ontario. The guy had bought into the local Ford dealership and moved his wife and four kids up and into the house next to us. Four kids; three daughters and a son. The third daughter – Stephanie – was about a year and a half older than me and we soon developed a mutual interest. She was the one with whom I shared my first romantic kiss. Open mouth, tongue involvement, the whole enchilada. She was also the one with whom I shared a few other of my firsts in this vein. I won’t go into details, though. Suffice to say that the summer I turned thirteen was somewhat akin to experiences that Uncle Keith wrote about a little while ago.

It didn’t last though. She and I both had a lot to learn about relationships. In retrospect, I guess I also learned that a lot more than hormones is required to make a relationship work. Although we did have some things in common, other than physical stuff, it wasn’t enough to sustain us. It didn’t help that enmity developed between my family and hers, either, mostly over the fact that her dad stiffed mine on the house deal. Eventually we moved away – west – and she went on to date my best friend and eventually married him. (That relationship didn’t stand the test of time either, but that’s another story.)

I was fifteen turning sixteen when we moved west. An awkward age to move at the best of times, it was made even more awkward by the fact that we were moving into a very rural area. Teen drinking and teen sex were rampant. The “shotgun” wedding was a running joke. Many of the kids I befriended were the products of parents who “had” to get married. I tried my best to fit into this picture, helped along by a lot of alcohol. I have only the fuzziest of memories of back seat groping and other stuff as I wended my way down the last few miles of adolescence.

The summer before grade 12 I was hanging out with the neighbour kids. My folks were renting a house at this wide spot in the road. There was a store, a school and a post office there. The family that ran the post office also had a lot of farm land in the area. They also had a lot of kids. Twelve. By the time we were living there, only the youngest four were still at home. Cheryl, who would have been the ninth kid, was a tall, leggy girl a year older than me. She was pretty quiet though. We hung out a lot that summer, mostly smoking cigarrettes and sometimes drinking a few beers. One night we huddled up in an RV out back of her folks’ house and shared kisses and other stuff. It was destined to go nowhere, though, because she had ideas of getting away from the farm life and I appeared to be just another dumbass with a mullet headed towards a truck driving job or something. We had one magical night and that was that.

I met Shelley in high school during the last semester of grade 12. She had taken the seat in front of mine in Social Studies 30. She was a popular girl at school and was surrounded by a gaggle of other girls, all friends. Despite my somewhat boorish ways of the time, she took an interest in me and then was often found turning around in her seat to talk with me instead of with her girlfriends. Ironically, I had noticed her my very first day in grade 11 at that high school, walking down the hall in a too tight t-shirt. She was wearing goofy looking eyeglasses but that didn’t really take away from her face and her red hair.

It wasn’t long before I knew who she was and she was part of the popular crowd. I was a new kid and nobody. So, even though I’d made many acquaintances by the time that last semester of grade 12 came around, I still couldn’t believe that she was talking with me.

I remember sitting with her on the lawn outside the school after school was out. She was waiting for a ride to go babysitting. I’d wait with her until her ride came and we’d chat about stuff I don’t remember now.

And then graduation came. We were just friends and so we each already had “dates” for graduation. Hers was a long time on-again, off-again boyfriend, mine was…well…a girl I met at a party while under the influence. (I know, I know, not the best of behaviour.)

Our graduating class celebrated in true rural northern Alberta fashion. A bush party on an out of town piece of farm ground belonging the one of the folks of our class. It wasn’t a late evening celebration either. It was the entire weekend.

Friday night, I got blitzed. I can’t quite remember, well, much of anything from that evening. Somehow, though, and this probably hints at what was to come, I wound up in Shelley’s date/boyfriend Bill’s car with the two of them. We went back to town (I guess) and wound up spending the night at his parents’ house. Saturday found us back out at the grad party.

An aside: graduation was near the end of June – near the solstice. Our latitude in northern Alberta is such that at the summer solstice, the sun comes up about 3:00 am and doesn’t set until around 11:30 pm. And even then, the northern horizon never goes all the way to black.

So, while it was late on Saturday, it was still light. We were sitting around the fire out at the grad bush party. Stumps or chairs must have been in short supply because Shelley was sitting on my lap. I don’t know where her date/boyfriend was; I was pretty oblivious (we had a lot of beer out there at the party, but not much, well okay, no food).

I don’t remember what we were talking about. She was just so close and felt so good. And then our faces were close, our lips touched and I felt her tongue in my mouth. According to a photo someone gave us much later, a blanket came from somewhere because we were wrapped up inside of it together. I think there was a lot of kissing going on.

I had set up a tent out there (I was staying the weekend, remember?) and at some point we retired to it. We hadn’t been there very long before Bill showed up sticking his fat head into my tent, bending the front pole in the process. He insisted that I come have a drink with him. I was a little uncertain as to the status of his and Shelley’s relationship at the time (although they weren’t seeing each other, I think she asked him to be her grad escort and he took that to mean that they were getting back together), so I…ahem…got dressed again and headed out to the fire.

Well a drink was not what Bill had in mind for me that night but, rather, a solid right to the jaw. My head snapped around and my glasses flew off. Although I was a bit inebriated, I was still WTF? Oddly, he quickly became jovial, wrapped his arm around my shoulders (awkward as he wasn’t as tall as me) and walked me over to the fire. A beer was thrust into my hand and more partying commenced.

I heard later from others that his plan was to knock me down and pummel me, but as I was somewhat bigger than him and, apparently, could take a punch, he changed his mind when his first punch proved somewhat…um…ineffective. So he switched to plan B. An early example to me of the old adage, “Discretion is the better part of valour.”

Shelley suffered some angst over the next couple of weeks as she extricated herself from whatever remained of her relationship with Bill. We started seeing each other exclusively. We fell in love. We moved in together and a couple of years later we married.

My last first kiss? Well, I won’t spill any details here about that. Ann has written about it though. If you’re interested you can read about it here.

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Responses

  1. funny how we remember so much about the first night with the one we love isn’t it? firsts with other people just fade away but the special ones remain ingrained

  2. loved this, and annie’s story – and the soft-souled story from uncle keith. probably not ready or able to dredge out my version… that first kiss on the dance floor was only the beginning of my tumble into adulthood.

    found myself sighing a lot when reading these memories. ah, those silly fumblings. they mark us forever, don’t they?

  3. nursemyra: Oddly enough, the more I wrote, the more I remembered. I had to go back and edit the post to add more stuff. It’s like a pinhole leak in a dam. You start working at it and it becomes a torrent. In this case, a torrent of memories.

    daisyfae: We are the sum of our experiences. Some good. Some bad. All of them ours.


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