Lip Drama

Lip Drama

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

Lip Drama

Mother—that was the bank where we deposited all our hurts and worries.
~T. DeWitt Talmage

“Emily, I heard that Adam is going to kiss you today,” Brittany whispered in my ear as we walked into Mrs. Cox’s math class.

“What? Are you sure? We have only been going together for a week.”

She leaned in as the bell was ringing. “He told Ashton that he was going to kiss you when he walks you to the bus this afternoon.”

Mrs. Cox started the lesson, but I did not learn anything for the rest of the day. My mind was off to the races. Today? Is it too soon? Did he mean a real kiss? Maybe it was just a rumor.

Apparently not. By fifth period, the entire seventh grade seemed to be in on the secret. Notes were flying onto my desk from people I barely knew. I heard murmurs as I walked to my locker, and it felt like even the principal glared at me with a raised eyebrow. It was as if the morning news announced to the whole world that today was the day of Emily McClanahan’s first kiss. All the high school and middle school kids hung out by the buses. It was the place to be. Everyone would be watching.

That seemed like a lot of pressure. So, I panicked. When the last bell rang for the day, I did the only thing I could think to do. I hid in the bathroom.

Even now, twenty years later, I can still hear Adam outside the bathroom asking, “Have you seen Emily? Did she check out today?” I stayed in the stall with my feet propped on the door until I was sure that no one was outside.

Lying in bed that night, I stared at the ceiling and thought about our magical moment. “Tomorrow is the day. I am going to have my first real kiss. Maybe I should practice with a teddy bear or on my arm. No, that’s lame. I am sure that it’ll be okay. People have been kissing since the beginning of time. How hard can it be? Plus, Adam is experienced. I think he has kissed two or three other girls. He will know what to do.”

The next day, at 3:05, Adam faithfully met me at my locker. A small crowd formed behind us as we walked down the stairs and outside, through the basketball courts and down to the first line of buses. When we came to bus number twelve, I stopped like I always did. Usually, I just gave him a quick hug. But not this time. This time, I just looked at him and waited.

He leaned in and I closed my eyes. I braced myself for the magic. But it wasn’t magical at all. It felt more like being kissed by a Golden Retriever.

The worst part was still to come, though. Adam took a few steps and joined his buddies, who were anxiously awaiting his comment. He looked at them and snickered, “She didn’t even do it right.” The entire crowd erupted in laughter. Humiliated, I ran onto the bus as fast as my feet would carry me.

By the time the bus pulled away, I was hysterical. I did not even try to hide my tears from my brother. He kept asking what was wrong, but I ignored him. As soon as we got home, he threw his book bag on the floor and reported to Mom. “Something is wrong with Emily. Talk to her! She said that she is going to jump off the roof.”

I had already decided that I would not tell her. Mom and I talked about everything, but I knew that she would not understand this. This was the worst day of my life.

Mom saw my red face, though. She knew something had happened. “Em, is everything okay?”

“It’s fine. Your son is a lunatic. Nothing is wrong with me. I am going outside to get some sun.”

“Okay, then. I think I’ll hang out with you.”

Oh, nice try. Did she think I would cave just because she was sitting next to me? I would be a rock. I would never let her know what happened. I planned to take this miserable secret to my grave.

“So, tell me about school, hon.”

“I am not talking about it, Mom. We can’t talk about everything, you know.”

“All right. You don’t have to talk about why you are upset. Just tell me about something else. Did you do well on your test today?”

The tears started flowing. “Yes.”

“Do you have a lot of homework?”

More sobbing now. “Not really.”

She hugged me. “I’m here. Talk to me if you feel like it. If not, I’m just here.”

“Adam kissed me... by the bus.”

“Well, it must not have been a very good kiss if he made you cry. Maybe he needs to work on his technique.”

“Mom!” She always knew how to make me laugh when I felt like crying.

“Actually, I’m the one who did not know what I was doing. He told his friends that I did it wrong!”

I don’t remember every single word my mom said that afternoon in the backyard. I know that she laughed with me. She listened. She didn’t ground me for kissing a boy at school. She never judged or told me that I had done anything wrong. She was just there.

Our conversation on the back porch that day was interrupted by a phone call from Adam. The catastrophe was over. It just worked itself out. I did not jump off the roof. But I decided that I was not ready for public displays of affection at school. Somehow Mom made me think that was my idea.

Middle school was full of drama and Mom took it in stride. I can remember countless days and nights when she just came in my room and talked until I confessed what was really happening in my life. She never demanded it. She just cared enough to stay with me until the truth came out. I always felt better after Mom knew.

Thanks, Mom, for being there during the drama that defined my middle school years. Your presence was an anchor I could latch on to when the world was going up and down so quickly that everything looked blurry. You have always been my solid ground.

~Emily Osburne

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