What I’m Riding . . . my first kiss

I wanna dance with somebody who loves me . . . .

I wanna dance with somebody who loves me . . . .

If you’re getting ready to tuck into a sweet slice of young love, of blossoming sexuality sliding in on the heels of innocence, then this is definitely not the story for you.  But if you would like to break free from the confines of your 80’s taffeta prom dress and emerge from the smog of your Aqua Net coiffed hair, continue on with me about getting the truth out there of what it is like to receive your first tongue-kiss from an inexperienced horny teenaged boy whose much abused intimate partner is a sock soaked in Vaseline.  Let me introduce you to Tim O’Malley.  No, he’s not the boy who gave me my first real kiss, but rather, it is his fault that it happened.

I fell in love with Tim before I ever met him, thanks to my friend Sue and her periodic updates.  Sue who, BTW, never met him either.  Apparently she had a friend Pam who went to Jenkintown High who was friends with Tim, a junior at Father Judge High School for Boys.  I heard about how cute he was, how cool he was, stories of how he spent his weekends, how every girl who met him fell madly, madly, in love and how when I finally met him–IF I met him (would I ever be that lucky?)–I would also take the tumble.  I was a freshman, had only ever gotten chaste kisses on the lips, and tales about Tim’s way with the ladies had me both afraid and excited.  If given the chance, would I be able to tame the beast?  Forget tame; would I even be able to ride it?

I had many near-misses when it came to starting the process of finding out.  Pam played sax in the school band and invited Sue to her concert.  “Tim’s coming,” she told her, so Sue invited me.  Oh, I looked so cute that night.  I went all out, wanting to leave a good impression.  Alas, he never showed.  In the backseat of the stuffed car on the ride home I sat on Doug’s lap and endured sophomoric comments about how the car better not go over too many potholes or I might end up pregnant.  Surely Tim was so much more smooth than this shitbird.   

So Tim didn’t go to the concert.  And he didn’t attend the basketball game he said he’d be at two weeks later.  And he was a no-show at our Joseph’s get-together on Oxford Avenue.  And he skipped Pam’s birthday party because he just broke up with his girlfriend and was too shattered to socialize.  And he bailed out of bowling night because he was trying to stay dry, which at the time I didn’t understand.  It wasn’t raining.  What do you mean, you want to stay dry?  Sue thought it was a sexual reference.  “You know,” she said, eyes widening.  “Dry.”  I didn’t think dryness was a positive sexual reference, so I asked my go-to gal on all things beyond freshman year:  my big sis.  “What does it mean if a guy is dry?”  She asked why I wanted to know, and I gave her the Tim run-down.  She said she thinks it means he’s trying to stay away from alcohol.  Oh.  I shared with Sue and Pam confirmed:  Tim liked to hit the bottle sometimes.  Perfect for me, right?  How do I always find them?  Anyway . . . .   One magical night in April, 1984, a boy from Jenkintown threw a party.  I was over Karen’s (a friend I met through Sue) and the call came; Tim was there.  Did we want to come?

I knew who he was the minute I walked down the basement stairs.  Standing by the keg, tall, blue eyes, wavy brown hair, George Clooney smile.  Oh God, he was gorgeous.  Pam introduced us and he asked if he could get me a beer.  I said a Coke would do fine, lots of ice, he laughed at me, but got me what I wanted.  We sat on a couch and talked, from time to time we were interrupted by some other girl and I was forgotten so I went and danced with my friends until Tim and I got around to talking again and he asked me out in a cryptic way:  “If I called you to ask you out sometime, would you say yes?”  I think I said yes before he did, but he took my number and said he’d call next week.  I found out the day after the party that mine was one of three numbers he’d collected that night, and he didn’t dial any of them.  I asked my mom why a boy would do that?  “Some guys make bets with their friends about how many girls they can get to say yes,” she said.  Bummer.  Really?  Assholes.  But I was not one to sit around and mope and dwell on the negative.  I would make him sorry he didn’t call me.  I would make him beg to see me.  I was going to make Tim O’Malley love me.  To do this, I would need to be around him, which obviously was a challenge all on its own considering it had taken me four months just to meet him.  Occasionally Sue would toss me scraps on what he was doing, according to Pam, and although hearing about his escapades with other girls (i.e., the ones he was calling back) was excruciating, I was the typical fifteen-year-old who would rather fall on the knight’s sword over and over again rather than not know who he was spearing with it.

Finally the night came when I saw him again.  In May, at the last Father Judge dance of the school year.  I was there with a group of friends and made sure to walk by Tim and his entourage seventeen times before he finally noticed me.
        “Hey, Rachel.”
        Oh.  Tim.  I didn’t see you there.  Seventeen times.
We talked a bit, and because he was taking too long, I made the first move and asked if he had a partner yet for the last dance.  The last dance, Heatwave’s “Always and Forever,” was a big deal.  It was like the crowning of the Ultimate Grand Supreme at a Toddlers and Tiaras beauty pageant and I intended to be wearing Tim after all was said and done.  No, he didn’t have a partner, and yes, he’d save the last dance for me.

I don’t know how I made it through the rest of that dance, but finally the first notes of “Always and Forever” flittered through the air like stardust and I went toward where I knew Tim was (I knew where he was all night) and he met me on the dance floor, pulled me against him, my face went right below his neck and I thought I was going to die.  Seriously.  I didn’t know how my heart could pound like that and not burst through my chest like Bugs Bunny’s did when he saw that lady rabbit.  Too soon it was over, Tim was hugging me, a peck on the closed lips, a thanks for the dance, a be safe getting home and he was walking away, back to his friends.  I think I didn’t sleep for a week after that dance.  Couldn’t concentrate in school.  I was bugged out on Tim, wondering when I’d see him again, if he lost my number, if he kept it would he even ever use it, was he thinking about me at all.  Why was God torturing me like this?  Why why why?  The walls of my old bedroom probably still echo with all of those late night entreaties:  why why why?!

Time passes, teen girls are resilient, and I was not one of them.  I probably arrived at the first Father Judge dance of my sophomore year the week before it happened, I was so anxious to see Tim.  Yes, he was there.  Yes, we talked, and again I was the initiator in asking if he had a partner for the final dance.  The answer was different this time:  “I might.  Come and find me.”  What?  You’re cringing right now, beautiful babies, I know, so am I, but you know as well as I do that when “Always and Forever” came on there was a desperate fifteen-year-old dragging her ass around the dance floor, scouring it for Tim.  And she found him, dancing with another girl.  I was about to run back and cry to my friends, but a boy stopped me and asked me to dance.  I didn’t want to seem rude, and Mom always told me not to turn down a gentleman’s request for a dance, they work up a lot of courage to ask–and okay, I wanted Tim to see that I could get someone else, he wasn’t so hot (but oh yes he was, it was like making John Mayer jealous by dancing with Clay Aiken)–so I said yes.

Sitting here now I have no recollection of what this boy looked like.  A little taller than me, skinny with a buzz cut.  Freckles.  The actor Lucas Black from Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift comes to mind.  In his American Gothic years.  I’m dancing, wanting to cry, looking over at Tim who isn’t looking my way, but finally once he turns his head in my direction, we meet eyes and he smiles at me.  I’m feeling a little better, maybe all hope isn’t lost, when suddenly this squid who swallowed an anchovy lands on my face.  Oh, wait, that’s my partner’s sweaty, mushy, slimy mouth sucking at mine.  It was like one of those gummy, sticky hands they sell at carnivals that you swing at people and it sticks to their skin, leaving jelly-like skids behind.  And the beginnings of a mid-puberty mustache scraping above my lip like the beads in my Neutrogena facial scrub.  His breath tasted like stale beer and ripe pervert.  And you know I kissed him back.  Even though I didn’t want to and my mind was screaming, “Why are you doing this?”  And now I see from the corner of my eye that Tim is also kissing his partner.  I felt like that coffee commercial of ago, “When Tim danced with me he didn’t kiss me like that.”  When the music stopped I ran off the floor quickly over to my friends, biting back the tears, demanding, “Get me out of here!”  They took me to McDonald’s and then to Little City (a popular make-out spot), but even the magic of my main man Big Mac couldn’t keep me from shouting out the car windows, “Why does he want that bitch over me?”

I never went to another Father Judge Dance.  I started hanging out in bars with men ten years my senior instead.  And Tim?  He briefly dated a girl at my high school who I wanted to hate but couldn’t, she was so sweet, and turned my venom on him instead as all jilted fifteen-year-old girls will do.  My group of friends nicknamed him Bee Hive Honey because of the pile of greased-up curls he sported at his senior prom.  And if ever I’m somewhere and Always and Forever comes over the speakers, I run frantically from the building, somewhere inside me screaming why why why?!

 

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About whatimriding

Born and raised in Philly, I spent several years in Las Vegas, working at the House of Blues and writing about the city. I now reside in Tampa, where I continue to work on novels, scripts and short stories and tearfully await former Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier's return to the bay area.
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