From Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul

My First Kiss

I was nauseous and tingly all over. . . . I was either in love or I had smallpox.

Woody Allen

When I was in the first grade, girls were not only an alien species but (as every little boy knew) were also covered with cooties. So naturally, the boys stayed as far away from them as possible. Imagine, then, our dismay, when on the first day of school our teacher not only lined us up next to the girls but made us hold their hands as we marched to class.

Michael, a loud know-it-all kind of a kid, with big ears and straw-colored hair, declared to everyone in the back of the line that he would probably die as a result of holding his partner’s hand. (She didn’t much appreciate his prediction.) So I looked at my partner and wondered if I would die. She was a pretty little girl with short blonde hair and big blue eyes. Her name was Frances. And I thought to myself: This ain’t so bad.

That’s when I heard Michael declare: “It’s bad enough holding a girl’s hand but can you imagine kissing a girl!”

“Ohhh!” one kid moaned.

“Yuck!” another declared.

And a third little boy just stuck his finger in his mouth and mimed gagging.

But then there was Frances, with her rose-colored cheeks and freckled nose, and I said without thinking: “I don’t know. Doesn’t seem so bad to me.” The icy stares that greeted me were the kind that we normally reserved for only the most heinous of transgressions: cheating, ratting on your classmates, or not sharing candy with your best friend.

“You’re lying!” Michael declared in disbelief.

“No, I’m not,” I replied, proud that I could defy him.

Not knowing what else to say, Michael remained silent. It wasn’t until we were in the shadows of the coatroom that Michael and several other little boys challenged me on my claim. “So do it,” he said.

“Do what?” I countered, pretending I didn’t know what he was talking about.

“Kiss a girl,” he pressed.

I hadn’t really considered it but I wasn’t about to back down now. “What’s in it for me?” I asked, knowing that you never did anything for free.

Michael was stumped. What could he offer that was worth kissing a girl? Then a gleam came into his eye and he reached into his back pocket. Drawing out his deck of baseball cards, he held them under my nose. “I’ll give you one baseball card for every kiss you give a girl.” There were oohs and aahs of appreciation from the spectators. He was talking serious money.

I could feel my resolve starting to crumble. I just might have to kiss a girl. “Who would I have to kiss?” I said, playing for time, knowing that the teacher was bound to come and get us.

Michael looked around the coatroom for a suitable candidate. Then he saw Frances. “You can kiss Frances,” he said with a smile. “You liked holding her hand.”

Frances had been standing there with a group of her friends. Like many of our classmates, she had stopped to watch our battle of wills. She turned a deep crimson red at having been selected. But Michael had made a mistake. I had liked holding her hand, and when I considered it, I had no problem with the idea of kissing her. So, like the gallant gentleman my mother always wanted me to be, I stepped up to her, took her hand and asked, “Do you mind?”

Frances shook her head mutely. And I, without so much as a second thought, leaned forward and brushed her lips gently with mine. The girls squealed with delight. The boys howled with dismay. Michael’s jaw fell to the floor. And Frances remained speechless.

I held out my hand and Michael paid up with one of his prized baseball cards. Then, to everyone’s surprise, I kissed Frances again—and again, and again, and again. By the time the teacher had come looking for us, I had earned fifteen baseball cards and the awe of my classmates.

Frances and I would hold hands in line, for the rest of that school year. I didn’t get any more baseball cards from Michael, but it didn’t matter. The memory of those first kisses was enough.

Arthur Sánchez

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