Grassin' © Kevin O'Brien


Grassin'

   By Kevin O'Brien


Was it though?  I mean was it really my first kiss.  Nah, it wasn’t at all.  It was a first peck is what it was.  Still, a lovely first peck it was.  It was ninth grade and we were roarin’ into the Summer.  The snow had long since gone, the windows were open, and the streetlights were coming on later and later at night. Free of the inhibitions of winter and the overcoats we hid in we were getting frisky.  The freedom of tee shirts, shorts, and bare feet got the hormones stirring.

     School was winding down and soon we’d trade our desks, and bookbags for beach blankets and coolers.  Friday and Saturday nights were spent at my friend Jimmy’s garage.  It was a double garage with room befitting an auditorium.  It was lit by a string of brightly colored Chinese lanterns that gave just enough light once the sun went down.  There were chips, dip, and cookies for nourishment.  Pepsi, Coke and Nehigh washed it all down.  And occasionally someone would bring a GIQ that we would pass around.  For the benefit of you millennials reading this a GIQ was a quart of beer.  Its cost was a mere fifty cents. 

     One Friday night the crowd was mulling around, some were dancing. Others sitting in the shadows making out. I had my eye on this girl who was “spinning the records”.  She was cute in a mousey little way.  I was, like those Lovin’ Spoonful guys trying to make up my mind about a mousey looking girl.  I summoned the courage and asked her to dance.  We danced most of the night before sitting in those shadows.  My mind raced with thoughts of the make out session that was sure to follow.  Abruptly my new friend sat straight up and announced, “I have to go”.  She leaned in gave me a peck on the cheek and bolted out of the garage.  Before I could wistfully touch my pecked cheek, she was three quarters down the street.  Crushed with abandonment I made my way to the chip bowl.

     My first kiss, my real first kiss was quite a different story.  Later that summer of sixty-six a gang of us would meet in the square after dark.  We would walk to an ice cream shop in  the next town about a mile away. 

After our treat we would head back but cut through a heavily wooded area and a cemetery.  Just before the cemetery there was a secluded grassy hill where we would stop and pair off in yet again, another make out session.   We called this “grassin”.  One night most of us were paired off.  Those of us that weren’t sat around smoked cigarettes and chatted.  I was approached by this girl who was in my home room.  She was a hippie.  There weren’t too many hippies in town yet.  She had a flannel shirt, tee shirt and ripped jeans, and did she ever make that outfit look good.  Her hair was flaxen gold and curled down over her shoulders.  Rosy high cheeks and the bluest of eyes.  How did I never not notice?  We talked. We laughed, we “accidently” made contact now and again.  I confessed to her my surprise that she would even give me the time of day.  I played football and hockey and hippies were not exactly sports minded.  She cleared this up nicely by telling me. “You’re not a jock, you’re just a kid that plays sports”.  It wasn’t long till my first kiss occurred, then my second, then my third. We spent the rest of the summer together but went our separate ways come fall and the beginning of school.

     Years later I was showing my children my high school yearbook.  I saw her picture and told the kids my story.  They gagged and ran off to do the kid thing.  I sat there with my memory.  I read her bio detailing her activities and interests throughout high school.  She wrote, I loved football and hockey, and I’ll never forget the summer of sixty-six.

Neither will I.


 


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