I was twelve the first time I kissed a girl. Mom had to go on set to film an advertisement for 'Put On Dem' Boogie Shoes', a 3 cassette audio collection of funky disco hits for the amazingly low price of $19.99. She dropped me off at Alessandra's house, her friend she grew up with in Vermillion. Alessandra had a daughter named Cauliflower. Yes, like the vegetable. Alessandra was a respected green chef at a restaurant with a plant-based menu, so she thought it was only appropriate that she named her daughter after produce.
We called her Flower, because being named after a creamy-white, brain-looking food was traumatizing for a twelve year old. Flower and I were close. We would set up easels and paint pictures in her backyard. We would knot friendship bracelets and go on bike rides together. We even made up a pretend language that only the two of us understood.
Everything always felt more exciting with Flower. I even started to like things I hated because she liked them. Slap braclets. Weird necklaces. Wite-Out manicures. It's crazy what a heart blinded by adolescent love can make you do.
I'm embarrassed to say, but we were "playing house" that day. Flower and I were pretending to be parents to two beautiful composition dolls. We were in the moment, celebrating our amazing make-believe parenting skills, and I suddenly went in for a kiss.
It was a disaster.
I did everything so wrong. I went in too fast. I used my untrained tongue. I was mostly just licking her lips and narrating the cringeworthy scene. The worst part was that I ate a peanut caramel candy bar before I visited.
Flower was severely allergic to nuts and it triggered a bad reaction. Alessandra made me walk home and immediately drove her daughter to the emergency room. I never saw Flower again. My mother never spoke to Alessandra again.
Mom belittled me and told me I shouldn't be kissing girls. She said I didn't have the emotional maturity yet. Dad just snickered and shook his head. I'm pretty sure he called me a moron under his breath.
"It's completely natural for girls to make you happy in your pants," mom blurted out. "It means that your penis is working properly."
I remember wanting to crawl under a chair or behind the toilet. Anywhere tight or confined to escape the embarrassment.
"There are two kinds of kissing. Family kissing and mature kissing. Family kissing is a kiss on the cheek and mature kissing is the impurity you forced onto Flower."
I know mom was always looking out for me, but she had an exceptional way to wreck my self-esteem.
I didn't kiss anyone for a long time after that.
I guess what I'm saying is, people - friends, partners can make your life feel better, but there's always going to be that one special someone. That someone you may bump into so unexpectedly, they instantly make you feel a spark in your soul. They take you and your heart by surprise and then change your life forever.
This is my story. This is our story.