I was reading over a friend’s recent post and her recollections of being young, which found me reliving my own youth for a bit. Once the veil is pulled and uncovers one memory, suddenly they all seem to step forward and come out of hiding. This particular memory she stirred was of me when I was twelve; which as I said led to others. Which eventually led to him…probably my first real boyfriend. At least the first one who gave me my first big-girl kiss. A french-kiss. Wet, sloppy, applied incredibly clumsily as we were both inexperienced, but oh so memorable. Memorable because of him. His name was Tony.
I love bad boys. Well, I want em to look bad, anyway. There’s never been anyone capable of peaking my interest, tweaking my curiosity, and sending shivers of excitement through me, quite like a bad boy with a foul mouth, tough exterior, who is unconventional and defies the norm. I bathe in their energy, bask in their reputation, and relish in the fact that only I see the softer side of them; the weakness they expose from wanting me, needing me, loving me. Is there anything that comes even close to exposing the under-belly of a man like a woman can? And it starts young. The moment a boy starts getting interested in girls and finds that special one, that girl learns where her power lies. She also learns quickly what she likes. Apparently what I liked and didn’t realize it until I met him, was a bad boy with a ponytail.
I still remember the first time I laid eyes on him and the way he made me feel. It was the summer before I started Junior High, my best friend in the whole world had just moved with her family across town while I was on an extended vacation with my folks to Canada, and so I guess to last-minute replace her I’d started hanging out with another girl that I’d known from school. The kind of girl others whispered about. The kind of girl that had what we called back then a ‘reputation’. A girl my parents would soon try to ban me from hanging out with. I didn’t care. She was a heckuva lot of fun, didn’t have a lot of restrictions placed on her, and the two of us found all kinds of mischief to get into. This particular day we were at the community pool with friends, we had stepped outside to sneak a smoke around the back of the building where all the kids hung out, and as we were crossing the walk to go back inside he came through the parking lot on his bike. My memory is of a Schwinn with a banana seat, but given it’s been 36 years I could be wrong about that. Whatever it was he was riding, the front tire was high in the air from the wheelie he was popping, and long auburn hair cascaded behind him as he rode the metal bronco; the gold in it glinting brilliantly in the sun. I took my breath in at the sight of him. My young heart leapt inside of me as he approached us on his bike. I felt an embarrassing giggle escape as he was introduced by his friend, who just happened to be dating this particular girlfriend of mine at the time. Oh the joy of it! Yay! What better excuse could’ve been given me to get to know this boy? And that, was how I lost my heart the first time.
I look back now and realize how silly it all was, but at the time seemed so important. He hadn’t seemed interested at all in me that first day, and so when we were thrust together again not long after at a park where I’d gone with my girlfriend to meet up with her boyfriend, and he’d just suddenly decided he was going to kiss me goodbye after barely saying boo to me the whole time we were there, I was taken by surprise. Not just surprise, but taken completely back by the way he stepped into it and sort of stuck his tongue out. My reaction was “Gross!” And I’ll never forget his to this day. “What’s a matter…afraid to get your cherry popped?” He asked me, then laughed and walked away with his buddy. Huh? I was stunned.
Now I’ll be really honest, I knew exactly what he meant by that remark, but couldn’t believe he said it. No one had said anything like that to me before. And I also must admit, it wasn’t the way he approached me to kiss me that bothered me as much as how I knew he intended to kiss me, and the fact that I’d never did that before and didn’t have a clue what to do. How was I supposed to retain my coolness around my friends if everyone found out that I wasn’t worldly? God forbid! You know, cause being a few months shy of thirteen I was supposed to already know everything, or something. Looking back I think he probably had me pegged wrong from the get-go. Boys will be boys, and I’m sure his buddy who was seeing my friend had bragged how she was already putting out–and she had been–and he probably assumed by association that the apple didn’t fall far from the friendship tree. Not only far, but it was a completely different fruit altogether. Still I wanted him, and figured if I had to I’d fight off his advances till I was ready. Something about that long, wavy auburn hair, full pout, and fair eyes just rocked my world. Good grief, I still have to suppress a giggle even now just thinking of what that young man did to me.
Hooking up just seems to make sense and be a given when you’re introduced to your friends, boyfriend’s buddy. I don’t know why. This seemed to be the case back then anyway, and we were almost pressured to make it happen by the way we were together all the time at the pool, his house, when someone was babysitting etc. And how can you help but get to know each other when the only other people there are locked at the lips constantly. It probably didn’t help much that I wasn’t very supervised by my parents, ventured miles away from home on my bike, did as I damn well pleased because they were none the wiser, was given full reign to spend the night wherever I wanted that summer, my friend and I lied about staying with the other so we could wander the streets, and well…do the math.
This boy quickly asked me to go with him, but didn’t try to kiss me right away after that first attempt. And that was okay with me, because I was fearful of how to get out of it if he did. So fearful in fact, when my friend told me soon after we started going together that he’d bought me a little necklace and was intending to give it to me when we went to the pool next, I made an excuse and broke up with him because I thought he’d expect me to kiss him after receiving it. Silly, huh? It probably worked to my benefit though, because after that he wanted me to be his girlfriend more than ever. My first clue that men always work harder to get and keep what they initially think they can’t have.
I did finally get up the nerve to kiss that boy, and it was worth waiting for. We made up after that childish breakup, and soon after the opportunity presented itself when I was babysitting for my sister one afternoon who lived about five blocks from his house. He and his sister had walked down to see me, and after visiting in the yard for a few and he was preparing to leave, I stopped him at the sidewalk and laid one on him. To this day that was probably the best kiss I’ve ever had because it was something new and it was from him. We continued to see each other on and off for a couple years after that. He went to another school so it became difficult to get together, we’d break-up, then run into each other at the mall or drive-in, hook-up again, then break-up, etc. He gave me a tight t-shirt with his name Tony in bold, black letters written across the chest that I wore proudly, and I gave him an ID bracelet that I believe read “I Love You”. And though our paths would cross many times while I was bartending later in my adult life, I never bothered to ask whether he had kept it or not. The t-shirt is long since gone.
Funny thing about this relationship, though we never got beyond kissing and innocent groping as we continued to see each other till after I was fifteen, I did have a dream about him once in which we consummated the relationship. In the dream the two of us were together, finding shelter in a tent, and one thing led to another. The dream was very vivid in the awkwardness I felt of my first time, the pain of penetration, the feeling of meshing as one with another person, and absolute love I felt for him at that moment. So vivid in fact I would never forget that dream, and years later would compare my first sexual experience to it, and be astounded at how accurate the dream turned out to be. Sadly, it was with another. Another who didn’t care.
I’m glad I have the opportunity to revisit these memories; some after filing them away for so long and thinking they’d been forgotten. So much of who I am today is because of the few that made a lasting impression on my life. And though I may never have become successful according to the standards set by society, I have been successful at being a person. I don’t lie, try to cheat others or steal from them, and would never hurt anyone intentionally just because I could. I am capable and practice sympathizing, empathizing, and loving others. I’ve stood up for the underdog, stood in front of the abused, and backed up those I feel are right. I have a conscience and heed it. I believe that makes me a good person. Perhaps my choice of lifestyle, friends, and lovers have been unconventional to some, but I don’t believe it’s hurt me any, and in fact has probably made me more interesting. I know I’ve met a lot of wonderful people along the way that were so much more than the poverty they lived through, the fat wallet they carried, the craziness that had been inflicted upon them, the relationships they chose to have, the prison they were forced to spend time in, the oil-leaking Harley’s that they drove, the tattoos they bore, and who the world told them they were.
I probably never would’ve had the chance if it had not been for encountering a young boy on a bike at a very impressionable age. Each time I shiver with excitement at the sight of a man on a Harley with his hair bound in ponytail holders I can thank Tony for that. Each time I feel the heat rise up around my neck and my stomach start to flutter at the sight of a redheaded man with a snarky smile, I can thank him for that too. I’ve had more reasons to be thankful for the life I’ve had because of the people that have been a part of it, than not. I suppose I could thank him for most of it. Even with the pain I’ve had few regrets. Although there is definitely one. I wished I would’ve done that young man!