First Kiss: Virginia, 1984

So let me start by saying there was no tongue involved, but there was sweat, anticipation, nerves, so it counts. Camp Friendship in Palmyra, Virginia, end of session dance on the outdoor basketball court, where every counselor and kid goes crazy. I am eleven. My cabin’s counselor Matt has his face painted half black, half white, wearing a button down shirt like some 80’s version of Kiss. We (all the boys) slick our hair back with water and borrow drops of Brut from Daron who already has stray whiskers and has been preparing for this evening for weeks. The first songs are heavy with Billy Idol, in the midnight hour she cried, more, more, more, nothing age appropriate, not that any of us are listening to the words. We are too busy following Matt, jumping up and down skipping like ska dancers. The girls sport side ponytails, wearing colorful gimp necklaces and short jean cut-offs. We all commingle on the ground as the B-52’s blast Rock Lobster, down, down, form breakdance circles, spaz out to “Come On Eileen,” then slow it down for the Bee Gees, “How Deep Is Your Love.” I’m standing next to my best friend Sean, when Carla and Erica make eye contact with us. Do you guys want to dance? I ask. It is a fingers to shoulders slow motion waltz, with all the couples doing their best to look at anyone other than their dance partner. I’m swaying with Erica, she has short hair like Pat Benatar, her pink polo shirt collar popped. I can smell the watermelon Bubblicious that she casually swishes in her mouth. Sean gives me a huge grin like he’s a toddler with his very first scoop of ice cream. The next song is by The Cars as we awkwardly detach ourselves from the girls. There is the lingering feeling of Erica’s hands. Around 9:30pm the prepubescent party starts to wind down like the sweaty end of a sugar rush, Luna moths and mosquitoes flutter and nip getting ready to take over the night. As I head back to the cabin with Sean, Carla calls out, You guys wanna come to our cabin? We have Oreos. Going to girls village after dark is against the rules, but we don’t hesitate to follow Carla. After devouring a couple cookies and handfuls of care package M&M’s, Sean and I prepare to leave. As we begin to walk away I hear Angie’s voice. Aren’t you two going to kiss these girls goodnight? We turn around to see Angie’s large boobs in a tight white t-shirt; she’s their 15-year old CIT (counselor in training). She reminds me of Rizzo from Grease. Erica is standing only a few feet away, it is like I’m on the high dive and she is the water. I’m nervous, but the pressure is on, I have an audience. For a second the crickets stop chirping, the stars stop twinkling, I stride back to Erica almost lunging. I manage to cradle both her cheeks with my hands like I’d seen in movies, then plant a kiss directly on her soft lips, and say good night. Sean is able to do the same with Carla and we immediately take off running like two cowboys into the wilderness, our eleven-year old adrenaline pumping faster than our legs will go. We move across the dark grassy field like boys escaping the future, like miniature men.


Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1981

I’m addicted to Saturday morning cartoons. Friday nights my sister and I sleep on the blue and white carpet that covers the upstairs hallway. Head to head our sleeping bags contain weekend excitement zipped up in plaid softness. Just before 7am we wake, take turns peeing, stumble like little zombies wearing pjs, go downstairs for the sugar. Pile Tasteeos (a generic version of Cheerios) into our bowls, then heap spoonfuls of the white stuff from a large snapped glass jar, before navigating our way to the basement TV. The Magnavox sits dormant, boring, until one of us pulls the knob, turning the dial to channel 5, Big Blue Marble, the colorful glow of the earth greets us. By 8am the grey goop like melted cotton candy has been scooped up from the bottom of my bowl, I’m transfixed, wired, ready for Super Friends. Good vs. Evil, the Hall of Justice vs. the Legion of Doom, subtle American propaganda?, a magic lasso, aquatic powers, gadgets, Krypton-derived strength, interspersed with short vignettes urging us not to smoke. 9am The Smurfs, a mushroomed utopian village, minus the lack of females, the menacing cat Azrael, the balding black-robed Gargamel, and the bullying of Brainy who is always right. At 10am my appetite for wealth is reinforced by Richie Rich, he, like the games Life and Monopoly, teach me that having mucho money is good, very good. The last show of the morning is Tarzan and the Lone Ranger. The hour does it’s best to insert African and Native American stereotypes into my plastic mind, along with a heavy dose of male-dominated adventure. Around noon I have a rumbling stomach and my dad has already threatened to turn off the TV at least once. We finally ascend, pop in some Stouffer’s French bread pizzas, put on some clothes, and count the days until our next Saturday morning injection.