I was 14 years old when I had my first kiss in a Ponderosa parking lot.
It was with my first boyfriend, Chad. We were in a show together, and had been dating ever since he took my hand under our scripts during rehearsal three weeks ago. So far the foundation of our relationship consisted of holding hands before and after rehearsal and staring at each other and blushing during. I didn’t know much about him, except that he was a year older than me, went to a different school, and his name was Chad.
But when you’re 14, that’s totally enough to qualify as a girl’s first boyfriend.
The night of our first kiss was the opening night party for our show. To this day, I cannot figure out why the cast chose to celebrate at Ponderosa, but that’s where we were. Though we never discussed it, Chad and I knew that this was going to be our chance to finally be alone without the meddling eyes of the cast (and his mom.) All during dinner, Chad mentioned repeatedly that he’d brought that poster I’d asked for, that it was in his mom’s car and he could go grab it for me. I had no idea what the fuck he was talking about, but at 15 I’m pretty sure he thought his excuse was bulletproof. As the meal winded down and we felt it was safe, Chad ever-so-casually asked his mom for the keys to the van so he could grab that poster for me. And why don’t I come with him so I can…see it?
We fooled no one.
But we didn’t have to. After some good-natured ribbing, his mom handed over her keys and we scurried out to the parking lot. Chad opened his mom’s van and handed me one of the show posters, the same one that the director had passed out to all of us by the hundreds. I still had a stack sitting on my desk at home, in fact, that were on their way to the garbage can, but it didn’t matter. The excuse had done its job. Except that now we were standing next to his mom’s van, awkwardly and painfully aware of the fact that we were clearly visible to the entire cast through the restaurant’s windows. We’d made our great escape but still couldn’t escape their watchful gaze.
Which is how we found ourselves out back of a Ponderosa. Under the parking lot lights, ignoring the dish boy taking out the garbage, we shared our first kiss.
It was awkward and unsure. Chad, who would later prove to be a rather moist individual, slobbered all over my mouth. And neither one of us did manage to work up the courage to use any tongue.
But at 14, it was fucking magical.
Like all magic when you’re 14, however, this, too, came to an end. Chad and I managed to drag out the relationship for four whole months after the show ended, during which we went on a total of three dates: one to the movies, one to my house, and one to his house. Every one of them was awkward, except when we were making out. That part was okay, because we didn’t have to talk to each other.
I remember when I decided to end things. I was standing in the kitchen with my mom, getting ready to call Chad. “I think I’m going to dump Chad,” I said to my mom. “Oh?” asked my mom, sounding entirely unsurprised. “Why’s that?” “I don’t know,” I shrugged. “I just…don’t really want to date him anymore.” And that was exactly the reason. Truth be told, after four months I still didn’t know jack shit about him. I knew that his favorite band was Red Hot Chili Peppers and he was a University of Michigan fan, and that was about it. I didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up, what he liked to do for fun, what kind of student he was…I didn’t know him at all. And the magic of the newness of a boyfriend was wearing off. It was exhausting having to sit through a boring, awkward phone conversation with this dude I didn’t really know or like just so I could have a boyfriend, and I was over it.
So I dumped him.
I don’t really remember how that conversation went down. I don’t remember him being particularly upset; truth be told, he was probably just as relieved as I was to put an end to the charade. I remember hanging up the phone and thinking that I should be more upset that I was, that I should probably be crying. But I didn’t. I think I just went back to singing and dancing around in my bedroom as I had been before the phone call.
Sixteen years later, I’ve dated many other guys and shared many other (much more enjoyable) kisses with many other (much more enjoyable) people. They say you’ll never forget your first kiss, but truth be told, I find it hard to forget any of the lips with which I’ve come into contact. But I suppose my first will always stand out in my memory.
Because who could forget something as magical as a first kiss in a Ponderosa parking lot?