The Ghost of Kisses Past

16 min read

Do you remember that first kiss?

I do.

Cautious, uncertain, hungry.

Poised on the brink of discovery. It’s exciting. Like turning over the last card, the one that will determine whether you fill that straight flush or go bust.

It’s a little like being born.

And a little like dying.

Her face drawing close to mine, I can smell sunshine on her skin. Sunshine and Ivory soap. She pulls an errant strand of hair away from the corner of her mouth to clear the way. Her feverish eyes, half closed. She cocks her head and parts her lips slightly. I feel her warm breath against my cheek, the scent of cinnamon and clove. My heart pounds in my chest like a lion trying to claw his way out of his cage. My face feels hot and flushed, my ears swept with fuzzy fire.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t think.

I don’t care.

My lips find hers, soft and moist, and they caress, scarcely moving. Then I feel the tip of her tongue searching for mine. We press together. She wraps her arms around my neck. I pull her close, crushing her budding breasts against my chest. Closer. Tighter. I want to feel all of her against all of me. I want to kiss her with my whole body. And more.

That shit can make you crazy.

The smart monkey says that I’ve been trying to re-live that first kiss all my life. Each new love has that first-kiss moment, and as soon as that kiss happens, it’s a fait accompli. The discovery is over. The mystery is gone. The excitement dissipates. On to the next true love. Over and over, I keep making the same mistake, tearing my heart out time after time. I keep looking for something I’m never gong to find.

But once, I thought I found it.

Let me tell you abut Diana.

I need a running start.

I was a high school freshman and not long for that world. Coming off a string of crushes on girls, each of whom had broken my little heart in quick succession, hitting me like a jab-cross-hook-uppercut combination. I was staggering around, trying to cover up and weather the round on my feet.

As always, I took refuge in making music. Licking my wounds with licks. That’s why the blues was invented. Should have called it the black and blues, because it’s always what you want to play when you’ve taken a real beating.

I was playing rhythm guitar and singing the lead vocals in a glorified garage band. Our leadoff tune was “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” by the Kinks. Should have had the lyrics tattooed on my chest. It was my personal anthem as well as the perfect expression of teenage angst.

We’d played a gig on Saturday night. Junior High dance in a neighboring burg. We played passionately, if not expertly, and as the lead singer, it was up to me to lay waste the emotions of the females in the audience. We had seen the dawning of the Age of Beatlemania, and it was a la mode for young girls to go into a feeding frenzy at the first indication of an up-tempo backbeat. The pay wasn’t great, but the fringe benefits were out of sight. Pussy fell upon us like manna from heaven. My buddies and me were getting real well known; the bad girls knew us and wouldn’t leave us alone. Waste not, want not, daddy-o.

So I’d stayed around and played around much too long after the gig, making out in the back seat of Ritchie the Drummer’s ’57 Chevy — it had more bondo on it than original body. We’d picked up these two little chickadees. His was named Renee. I remember her name because he later complained that she’d left him with a case of blue balls that was nearly fatal, and it became a running joke with us. Wrote a song about it called “Bluebells.” People thought it was about being in love with a girl named Renee who liked flowers. It wasn’t.

I don’t remember the name of the girl I was with. Not sure I ever knew it. Didn’t matter. She went to second base right out of the dugout. If you’re going to play second, your job is to cover the middle, and you need good hands, ready to make a double play. She handled the position like Bill Mazeroski. Knew exactly what to do with a bat and balls.

Me, I was rounding third, and ready to steal home, and getting all set to slide in safe, when Ritchie’s Renee decided she had to walk away and get her tight little ass home before daddy awoke at daybreak, or she’d have to face the sun rising on a brutish umpire. I guess you could say that the game was called on account of Renee.

Around noon, Stede knocks on my door. I’d seen him around school a little. From a distance. He was a senior; I was a freshman and the marks of the twain never meet.

He didn’t introduce himself.

“Hey,” he said. Like we knew each other. Like we were pals.

“Yeah. Hey.”

He stood there dumbly with his hands shoved deeply into his jeans pockets, looking anywhere but at my face. It was an uncomfortable elevator pause, and I was about to ask him what the fuck, when he spit it out like warm, rancid piss.

“Look,” he said, “I want to go see my girlfriend and her fuckin’ sister says if I don’t bring you, then I can’t come.”

“What the fuck?” I said.

“That’s what I said,” he said.

So there were these two sisters. Greta and I forget the other one’s name. Maybe Janice. Janet. Janine. Something like that. Let’s call her “Jan.” Though the sisters were four years apart in age, they looked very much alike. You had to look close or you could easily confuse them.

Sure, Greta was little shorter and more on the voluptuous side. Janice — if that was her name — was taller and what poets call willowy. Jan had a few more freckles.

But both had very straight corn-blonde hair all the way down to their asses. Both had iceberg blue eyes. Both had broad mouths full of dental triumph. And both were completely spoiled little bitches. They were so self-consumed they made Scarlet O’Hara look like Mother Teresa. You could say they were like identical twats.

“So. Can you fuckin’ come, man?” Stede said.

I should have said, “No.”

But I was an untutored youth so I said, “Sure. Why the fuck not?”

I got dressed and off we went. The rest, as they say, is hysteria.

Stede was a senior and was seeing Jan, who was a freshman. Greta was a senior and apparently had designs on me, a lowly freshman. It was an odd social cross-match, see? Violated the high school norm of strict segregation by graduating class. It was cool for Stede to be banging a younger girl, but me going with a senior chick would really piss a lot of people off. Male people, anyway. Male people who presumably thought I was encroaching on their natural and moral right to get into her pants themselves. Need I say, “fuck ‘em?”

For the female people, it was a little different.

They giggled and cooed about me they way they would have done had Greta taken in a stray puppy. A stray puppy that could sing and play guitar. Most of her friends — she was a very popular girl — were content to watch the puppy play fetch, maybe sneak in a quick scratch behind the ear. But some of her crowd clearly wanted the puppy for their own. Greta chased them off and herded me around like she had the blood of a blue healer in her own family tree.

Greta’s gang became regulars at all our gigs, but when I wasn’t actually on stage, she hung on my arm like she’d lost a leg to mortar fire, and that put a bright red neon “No Vacancy” sign on my crotch. Yeah, this love affair was doomed. You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd.

Stede and I spent the ensuing spring and summer more or less wound around the little fingers of these two girls.

They lived on a small horse farm. Both girls competed in western riding events, mostly barrel-racing. The foyer of their house was festooned with all kinds of ribbons, mostly blue, and photos of the girls, mostly sitting ahorse. Apparently, they could ride before they could toddle. Their old man had some kind of a square job — welder, maybe — that fed the bulldog.

We were there all the time. Helped with barn chores. Stayed for dinner. Day and night, night and day, we were the ones.

This would be the summer I learned what “haying” was: like workin’ on the chain gang, only itchier. There’s nothing like tossing a few hundred hay bales around to give you a good workout. But hay particles made their way under your clothes and into your throat despite the bandana tied across your face bandito-style. Hooh! Ah! Cough! Wheeze! That’s the sound of the men workin’ on the hay gang.

I would also learn to sit back in the saddle unless you want your monster mashed.

Their dad, sometimes called “Red,” sported a handlebar mustache waxed to a fine pair of curls. Mom was a sullen brunette, who didn’t care much for the constant horny dallyings, such that the girls were going around “all hot and bothered” all the time. But the old man would say “They’re teenagers. What do you expect? Hell, remember when we used to….?” He never got to finish that line because mama-san would smack him on the arm, but it always shut her up. Too bad. I would have liked to hear the rest of that story.

I didn’t have wheels, so Stede did the driving. He had a station wagon. A ’52 Ford. They called it a “woody wagon” because it still had some real wood trim on it. With its spacious seats that you could practically stretch out on full length, I’ll bet you can figure out why we called it a “woody wagon.”

Went to drive-in theatres a lot, but I couldn’t tell you a single film we saw. Didn’t go there to watch movies. It was a heavy-petting double-header and it often went into extra innings. Part of that double-date scene is that there’s a certain amount of voyeurism/exhibitionism inherent to the plot.

Sometimes it’s just that you don’t care if somebody sees you. You have other priorities. But other times, part of the fun is that somebody sees you, might be watching you. Or maybe you get to watch someone else, too. Clearly, Stede didn’t care who saw what. But just as clearly, those two girls enjoyed watching each other. I can recall Janice — if that was her name — giving Stede a cowgirl dry hump in the front seat, looking back at me with my fingertip in Greta’s cunt up to my wrist, and smiling at me as she leaned over so she could see my handiwork better.

That sort of thing can throw gasoline on your fire, if you’re in the right mood. Seems I was always in the right mood.

Over the summer, these ladies bludgeoned our emotions with a sexual carrot-and- stick. Or maybe it was rock-paper-scissors. I don’t know if Stede and Jan were doing any actual fucking, but Greta and I seemed to have stalled at the scandaglio stage. She had a boyfriend in the Army and apparently felt that, while everything else was acceptable, actually fucking would be disloyal. Don’t ask me how she arrived at that conclusion. There’s no logic to it.

“Wise Chinese say hand-job better than no job at all,” Stede told me, and I suppose he had a point. To a point. She did a decent job of jerking me off, and I got to know her cunt well enough that I could hit her high F sharp, chorus after chorus.

But our petting began to feel petty. Routinized.

I figured there was a reason they call it foreplay.

Nothing wrong with foreplay, mind you, but at that time I was interested in getting to five. I had to do my more advanced mathematical calculations independently.

When the inevitable double break-up came at summer’s end, it was almost a relief.


Stede and I both took it kind of hard, though.

The best part of the whole ordeal was that Stede and I got to know each other. We were both from dirt-poor families, both interested in karate, both permanently pissed-off at the world. He didn’t play, but he dug the music I dug. We made a good team for a while. Butch and Sundance, but without the laughs.

Which brings me to Diana.

Diana wasn’t my first real girlfriend in the world. But she was the first girl I ever went around it with.

I had a bad case of the sighing, abandoned puppy-dog blues from the Greta break-up. Don’t ask me why. She just wasted my precious time. But don’t think twice, that’s all right. Jesus, how had I gotten myself so emotionally invested in that chick? If I’m going to be honest, I guess I have to admit that it was the way she hooked me with unbridled adulation for my music. In my world, I could have cured fucking cancer and I still would have been a “juvenile delinquent” in the eyes of all the “good” people. Playing music wasn’t a redeeming activity. It was an additional offense. So when Greta greeted me with those adoring eyes, I was a sucker for it. She was devoted to her puppy — until she found out she’d have to feed it and take it out for walks. Anyway, I fell for it. Hook, line and concrete overcoat. No excuses. I’ll plead temporary inanity and throw myself on the Mercy of the court.

As the autumn leaves started to fall, I spent a lot of time at the Wolf Lake Plaza shopping center — back before they called them malls — wandering aimlessly past shop windows, like Scrooge’s wage-slave, Bob Catshit, daydreaming of a nice, big hunk of coal. I was floating past Woolworth’s rattling my chains and moaning, when I realized some waitress inside was pacing me, trying to flag me down.

Not very subtle of her.

And not very subtle was just what I needed.

She was dusky, not quite swarthy, but you could see Swarthyville from where she was standing. She could have had a mustache with very little difficulty, and I think she was self-conscious about that. Kept her lip attended to. Had a hard time keeping up with the coarse stubble on her legs. She boasted a dark, dense tangle of pubic hair, trailing faintly up to her belly button in front, and well into the crevice of her buttocks behind, something which cruel fashion did not require her to butcher. A few wild hairs sprouted around her nipples, too, but she rode herd on those.

Her long, brown hair she ironed to make as straight as possible, a la Cher, of Sonny and Cher fame. Bangs like a filly’s forelock that fell into her eyes — eyes very large, very soft, very deep brown. You find a pony with eyes like that, you buy it.

Diana affected one of those fisherman caps that the Beatles made popular, and wore her jeans so tight that she was the envy of every camel at the Sahara.

I don’t know if I loved dark, hirsute women before Diana left her fingerprints on my soul, but I did swear her fair and think her bright, and now that’s how I roll.

Still, there was only one Diana.

Our first date, we went to a movie. Never saw a frame of it. Soon as the lights went down, so did she. We spent a lot of time together after that, but it was never enough. When we weren’t together, we were talking on the phone. Now, my family was too broke to have a phone, but there was a pay phone at the bar next door and no one ever used it. So I adopted it like a lost cat. When things were bad at home — and things were always bad at home — sometimes I’d get to that phone and call her, and she was always there. Sometimes we’d talk. Sometimes I’d just listen to her breath. It was proof of life — mine.

According to my romantic mentor, The Cicero Kid, to “go around the world” with a girl was to fuck her “hand, tits, mouth, cunt and ass.” More or less in that order. Diana was the first female — maybe the only female — I ever met whose sexual appetite was as voracious and varied as my own. She was always in the mood, and game for anything.

I’ve never met a woman who could jack me off as well as I could do it myself, but, to be fair, I have direct evidence of just what I need, and all they have is hearsay. Plus I’ve had a lot of practice. Nevertheless, Diana cut pretty close to the bone.To call it a hand job would be like calling Jaws a fish. She had the léger de main of a powerhouse prestidigitator. She could shuffle the dick overhand, Hindu, or riffle style, and Charlier cut to a one-eyed Jack with one hand while simultaneously executing ball-handling worthy of Marques Haynes with the other.

And she took her time. She delighted in bringing me right to the brink — then slowing down, backing off, making it stay, ahhh, just a little bit longer. When I finally ejaculated, she would give me this smug succubus stare as she licked my semen from her fingers.

Tasted like victory.

To be fair, I have to concede that I enjoyed torturing her with kindness, too. I love the taste of a woman’s cunt, and Diana’s mound was indescribably delicious. Salty and fresh, with the scent of the primal sea. I would have been content to nestle my face against her soft, purple-rimmed lips until the end of the world. She put deep scratches in my shoulders when she climaxed, and I loved the way they stung in the shower.

“Holy fuck,” she said, after the first time I gave her cunt a few laps around the track. “I thought guys didn’t like to do that.”

I didn’t know what to say. So I quoted a song.

“I’m not like everybody else,” I said.

I didn’t realize at the time how prophetic that was. No way I could foresee how often I’d find myself repeating those words.

It was Diana’s idea to try anal sex, but she didn’t exactly have to twist my arm. She suggested it like she thought we should try out that new Chinese restaurant that opened up in town: Wang Ho’s. Yeah, I could go someplace with that.

We didn’t know what the hell we were doing. A little saliva wasn’t enough lubrication, plus I probably went too fast, impatient to be inside her. She lurched away from me like I’d hit her ass with a branding iron, and curled up in a ball, squeezing her eyes shut. I was so green, for a moment I wasn’t sure whether she was experiencing rapture or rupture. It wasn’t rapture. I felt terrible about it and apologized all over the place. Started to get up. She pulled me back to her. “It’s all right,” she said. “Don’t say you’re sorry. Just fuck me.”

What could else could I do?

I owed her one.

The next time, she brought out a big jar of Vaseline.

There was no quit in that girl.

It was Christmas time.

A white one.

Cold, but not too cold, as long as you weren’t out in it for long.

A Norman Rockwell Christmas, with evergreens dutifully tricked out, snowmen waving their oak twig arms, tiny multi-colored lights strung up in unlikely places, and a church group of wholesome lunatics pompously chirping out carols on the corner of Sacrilege and Saccharin.

It was a funny old town. Norman Rockwell on the surface, George Lincoln Rockwell underneath.

Diana and I met by the Wolf Lake Theatre to exchange gifts.

She handed me a small box wrapped with candy-cane festooned paper and tied with a red ribbon. Inside was a pair of her panties. White cotton. Bikini style. The crotch was stiff with dried juices from close encounters of the digital kind, and rich with her scent.

“Merry Christmas,” she said. “Now when you’re thinking of me, you can think of me thinking of you.”

“Fuck, I said. “All I got for you was a necklace.”

I handed her the culpatory evidence.

On a petite golden chain, a medallion, shaped like a heart. Only, you know, hearts aren’t really shaped like that. That heart shape more closely resembles labia minora, or, upside-down, the shape of a woman’s ass. I’d had the medallion engraved. It said, “plus qu’hier, moins que demain.” That’s French for “bullshit.”

“I love it,” she said. “But I bet that’s not all you’ve got for me. Let’s go for a walk.”

She took my hand and led me off on a stroll through the woods along the shore of Wolf Lake, frozen solid now. The moon was full and, reflecting off the snow, made it almost seem like daytime. There was no one else around. Who but a couple of horny teenagers would be out and about on a night like that? We settled on a spot that we figured was far enough away from the beaten path to be safe from any prying eyes, just in case.

She leaned back against one of those old birch trees, and I leaned in. I remember our noses were a little runny with the cold, and our kisses tasted salty. It didn’t take long for her to have her jeans down, and my jeans down, trying to find an angle that would get my cock into her while at the same time exposing the least amount of skin to the sharp bite of the winter air.

Didn’t work very well.

She had to pull her jeans all the way down, around her boots, and lean way, way back. I sort of stepped into the space between her legs, and between her jeans and her cunt. With me supporting her, she was able to spread her knees, reach down and guide my cock to where it belonged. That was the easy part. She was always wet as a Mississippi swamp.

It was so damn cold. My ass and legs were freezing and I’m sure hers were, too.

But that just made her cunt feel that much warmer. The contrast was stunning.

My ears were numb, my fingers were dick-stiff, and Jack Frost was taking big bites at my nose, but my cock was on fire with the heat of Diana’s body. It was cold enough that I wanted to finish in a hurry, but it was so good to be inside her I wanted to make it last, and I sure as hell didn’t want to stop before she came at least once.

Once I felt her going over the edge, I let myself go, too, and every spurt felt like a 180 proof shot of heaven on earth.

If there’s anything sweeter than that, it is unknown to humankind.

Thing is, as soon as that wave subsided, we realized we were no longer fucking — we were fucking freezing. We hurried to bundle up again. But our clothes as well as our limbs had gotten into quite a tangle, and it was no easy chore to figure out what belonged to whom. We managed to do it, though, and without falling down half-naked in the snow. Afterward, we went someplace to get something hot to drink. We were both shivering like nervous newly-weds by the time we got there. The coffee maker turned out to be on the fritz so we had to drink hot chocolate.

I hate chocolate.

But in this case I made an exception.

It took a lot of hot chocolate, and sharing a small mountain of French fries, but eventually we thawed out enough to even open our coats and relax, sprawl out a bit.

We survived it ok, though.

And didn’t even wear a helmet.

I guess I really had it bad for Diana and, as we all know, that ain’t good.

Had she not proven to be almost fatally perfidious, I might have stayed with that girl indefinitely.

But she did, so I didn’t.

Last time I saw her, she was on the arm of a big, dumb St. Bernard whose mummy and daddy had just bought him a brand new, fire engine red Corvette for graduation.

No way true love or a poor boy like me could compete with that.

And that, boys and girls is what you call a narrow escape.

Lucky me.

But here’s the thing.

One afternoon, while we were still going strong, in love forever, Diana brought over her new Polaroid Swinger camera, along with a truckload of film. We shot a couple zillion rolls of each other in a variety of obscene poses. We made a game of it. Took turns. Played each other’s requests. See who could top whom on the lewdness scale. It was a close match. Might’ve been a tie.

One shot in particular, I took by complete accident, while it was my turn to think up a pose for her and I couldn’t think of one. She was waiting for Mr. de Mille to do her close-up now, stretched languidly out on the bed, propped up on one elbow. She bent one knee up; the other had fallen to open her crotch to view and display that wonderfully dense bush that flourished there. Just a hint of labia peeking through. Her head was turned to the side, and she gazed sleepily out the window, and a distant, dreamy expression floated on the surface of her face like a lost butterfly.

I snapped that picture just at that moment. Didn’t mean to. But I did.

I don’t know what ever happened to that photo. I kept it in my wallet for a long time after I found out how short a time “forever” can be. I mean, I kept it for years. Sandwiched between a pair of one-eyed Jacks. Something about that captured moment brought a stillness to my turbulent spirit. Stillness and solace. I clung to that photo until it got so decrepit you could hardly make it out. Of all the shots I took of her, even the most pornographic ones, that’s the one I wish I still had.

For times like this.


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