While we were driving around, I took another left-hand turn too fast, and I saw my poor Crown Victoria’s hub cab rolling around the snow-packed street in my rear view mirror.
“Gadzooks!” Only I didn’t say “gadzooks,” I used a much angrier and vulgar word my mother might use to describe a method by which women get pregnant. Brent, who was sitting next to me in the front seat, looked down at his hands, shook his head and said “shit” under his breath, like he’d never heard a girl swear before. That dumb loose hub cap preoccupied me more than my ladylike language. As before, I stopped the car, retrieved the hub cap, wedged it back in place and took off. I hoped it would stay on this time.
Jill and Don were alone in the back seat. We were a quartet. I had already missed my curfew, but I didn’t want the night to end.
Brent made conversation by talking about Chele Handsome and Liz Sullivan, whom he wanted to ask out.
“But I can’t drive yet,” he said more than once.
I saw through his excuse of lacking a license. What he really lacked was courage. He was afraid of rejection.
I found a dead end near Brent’s house and parked. Jill and Don stayed in the back seat while Brent and I got out. It was strangely quiet after listening to 1982 disco at top volume on the radio. The air was cold but still; it was relatively bearable for a winter evening in Minnesota. A full moon hung in the sky, and a street light nearby cast a glow over us.
“So I guess I still owe you two kisses for making 14 points in a game in eighth grade, huh?” I said.
“Yeah, you do. And one more for when you bet I couldn’t hit a telephone pole with a snowball.”
“I don’t remember that bet,” I said.
“Well, I’m willing to pay up.”
I leaned back against the front end of the car, and Brent stood so close I could smell his breath and see the hairs on his chin. His green eyes looked hungry, and his full lips invited me. He leaned in and tried to French kiss right away.
I pulled back and looked him in the eye.
“I didn’t say French kisses.”
“You didn’t not say French kisses!”
Like a hen, I pecked him on the lips three times only I lingered on the third one and he held me tight. We French kissed for a moment, but he was aggressively inspecting my mouth rather than savoring it. He wasn’t as good a kisser as Brain Flourman. It was nice but somehow, it didn’t measure up to the kiss in fantasies that came as the culmination of years of flirtation and desire.
“I’ve got to get home,” I said.
“Me, too. I guess.”
We climbed back into the car where Jill and Don separated lips briefly, and I drove Brent home. Then I dropped off Don, then Jill. I parked the car in my garage, and sneaked into the house as quietly as I could. The clock in the kitchen read 12:14.
# # #
I’ve written 5,864 words this week in my work-in-progress, a manuscript based on my high school diary the year I turned 15 and learned to French kiss. Dialogue is tricky business for a memoirist, since most of it has to be recreated from memory. This is how I remember it, and I’m stickin’ to it.