Of Lamposts and Vacuum Cleaners

Of all the relationships in your life, the most difficult ones to recreate are those of your high school friends. If you were lucky, you had one or two close ones. I had about seventeen. They were the members of my church youth group. We did everything together. Parties, movies, sliding down the grassy hill at Foster Park on cardboard boxes...

No one shares those memories of coming of age except the friends from that time in your life. They remember first kisses, who dated who, and the most embarrassing moments which you shared with them in a moment of weakness.

Many times first kisses and embarrassing moments were one in the same.

In my case, my first kiss was Greg J. He was a big two years older than me…and HE COULD DRIVE!!!! Just for the record, he drove a yellow Volare--a vehicle that would make my kids howl with laughter if they saw it today, but back then…well back then, it was a little dated, too, but it was transportation that wasn't shared with a parent, so it possessed inherent coolness.

Greg kissed me after a date. Of course, I wasn't expecting it, so I did what any other completely inexperienced kisser would do…

I did nothing. I had no idea what to do.

He kissed me, and I had the response of a lamppost. Face glowing in the darkness, I walked back into the house and went straight to my room, shut the door, and picked up the phone. Laura C., my best friend, answered.

I relayed the whole kiss incident--utilizing the lamppost analogy. Laura said the only thing that could truly make me feel better. She told me the story of her first kiss.

Laura was in the car with her sister, her boyfriend, Craig, and his best friend, Darren. Craig leaned over to Laura so that there was no doubt what was coming, and Laura did the second thing that inexperienced kissers do…she puckered up and kissed. The result of her closed mouth approach to Craig's open mouthed one was a loud POP. Craig and Darren stumbled out of the car, hid behind a bush and began laughing uncontrollably. Sadly, Laura had to sit there and listen to the laughter. Oh yeah, it included the phrase, "she kisses like a vacuum cleaner."

Eventually, Laura and I shared our humiliating stories with our other friends. (Though we discovered that Laura's story had previously been publicized by Darren and Craig.) My kind and thoughtful friends did what any good friends would do after becoming the recipient of such delicate information. They made a six-foot lamppost and brought it to my sixteenth birthday party. A party Greg attended.

Oddly enough, the bonds lasted well into college--something a shared history will do for you, and Laura, Lynette-the-Cowgirl, Kristi Gee, Laura Phillips and I still get together every Memorial Day weekend.

And sometime during the night, as we are all falling asleep, inevitably one of us starts singing the National Anthem. Just like we did every year at youth camp.

To make fun of Kristi.

About her first kiss.

Which happened near the flagpole.


Sidebar: I actually wrote this several years ago for a magazine, but decided to post it since I've had so much fun with the comments on The Storytelling Epiphany. LC credits me with giving her a life outside of listening to the radio in her room during high school. Now I can credit her with my material. An even swap, LC...don't you think?

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Maira Gall