What My First Kiss And Snakes Have in Common

I wasn't the prettiest, most popular kid when I was in middle school. Or high school for that matter, but I'm okay with that because I was down with being uncool. My lack of popularity was a deliberate choice by then, something I strived for and worked hard at maintaining by strutting around in my pajama bottoms and slippers and obsessively writing in my leather bound journal.

I was supposed to be unpopular in high school because I was on my way to becoming a starving, tortured artist who would one day write the world's greatest novel and channel all my pubescent pain into my art.

I'm still working on that for the record.

But middle school? Junior high? That was a different story. I was meant to be popular. I just couldn't get any of the other kids to agree with me. It didn't matter that I had straight A's, or was on all the sports teams, or that I was captain of the Peer Power team, lead in the drama productions and general all around do-gooder.

No, the only thing that mattered in middle school was the fact I was flat chested, stringy haired and walking around in clothes that didn't have fancy labels plastered all over them.

Still, I was a CATCH darn it, even if no one could see that just yet.

This is what I could have looked like if I had blue eyes and my mom didn't let me chop off my hair into a triangular spiral hair mess. I'm sure of it.

Somehow, I survived middle school and even managed to cultivate a romance or two along the way. First there was the boy who gave me a box of chocolates. I brought the box into the bathroom in a fit of excitement and a sudden horde of chocolate starved zombies, I mean girls, swarmed me and ate the entire box before I even had ONE. That was awesome.

The next day the boy told me he only brought me the chocolates because his friend had dared him to do it.

Then there was the boy who brought me a porcelain seal tchotchke thingy. He came up to my chin and routinely commented on whether I had a new zit that day. Our love never really got off the ground.

But then there was Jeff.

He was a hockey player and his mother was a teacher. He was cute. Like, not just 'geek' girl cute but 'every' girl cute. Not only was he cute and he was always nice to me even though I'd known him for a lifetime. Or at least since grade four.

He passed me a note in the hallway the day before the Valentines dance saying that he hoped to see me at the dance. We never talked much but oh, the longing stares which passed between us. I just knew he was my Romeo and I was his Juliet. Minus the whole mutual suicide thing of course.

I don't remember much leading up to that dance but I remember how my blood thrummed with excitement and how I kept running to the bathroom to fluff up my spiral permed hair. How my friends would run up to me with updates on his exact location and whom he was talking to.

"He's by the stage! Under the speaker! Talking to Jason!"

"He just moved past the side door! I caught him looking at the hussy Brenda!"

And then it happened. That magical moment every girl dreams of. He walked up to me and he asked me if I wanted to dance. Instantly an ocean of sweat pooled in my armpits. My knees started to tremble and suddenly I knew exactly what those twins from Sweet Valley High must feel like, if they were real.

We gazed into each other's eyes as I placed my hands on his shoulders. He was sweaty and I remember it grossed me out a little. His hands rested where I would one day develop a waist and slowly we shuffled our feet back and forth in perfect rhythm.

And that's when it happened. I saw him swallow hard and I followed the trajectory of his mouth, trying not to be repulsed by the fuzzy little black hairs I was close enough to see just under his nose on his upper lip. So I closed my eyes and leaned in and then BAM!

My first real kiss.

And it was...

Disgusting. He had braces on and clearly he hadn't figured out the purpose of a breath mint just yet. At some point in the day he had eaten pepperoni pizza because I remember a chunk of it fell out of the wire in his teeth and on to my tongue. French kisses aren't supposed to be CHEWY.

I probably wasn't any better. I was a saliva producing machine and I worried I wouldn't be able to swallow fast enough and our combined spittle would seep out our mouths and drip down our chins and onto our shirts.

And the tongues, mercy, the tongues. He kept stabbing at me with his tongue like he was angry. It was like I had this giant pink snake trying to choke me to death underneath the middle school gym lights as a ballad played on.

The best part of my very first kiss? A girl named Melanie who stood behind us and timed our snogging session. When we hit 30 seconds without coming up for air she pumped her fist in the air and yelled, "We've got some action going on!"

Finally, the song ended and so did our kiss. We wiped our mouths and didn't make eye contact and for the rest of the dance we would catch one another looking furtively at the other but we never did approach the other again.

Our love lasted as long as a well played guitar riff in an 80's hair band song.

I never kissed a boy again until my husband came along. I was almost 16. We've yet to figure out how to stop kissing.

I told that story to my daughter the other day when she came home from her friend's sweet 16 party, worried that she is one of the few in her grade that has never had a real kiss.

She worried there may be something wrong with her because she hasn't had her moment yet.

All I can think is, thank God. My moment turned me off of pepperoni forever.

I promise you Fric; someone out there will see you.

And hopefully he'll know what a breath mint and dental floss is before he leans in.

Just keep being you kid. Because you rock.