I was 13 the first time I French kissed a boy. I was wearing a green skirt and a navy blue t-shirt that, ironically, had a pair of lips on it.
I also had on leg warmers, black All Stars, and make-shift wrist bands fashioned out of old socks.
Style was never my strong suit.
My friends and I snuck into a movie; I don’t remember which. At first we were at some mall in Dallas, loitering and being the prepubescent pests who ate all the free samples but never bought anything. Somehow we made our way to the one movie theater in McKinney and felt very cool, and very rebellious, having bypassed the box office and thus the $2.50 for a matinee ticket. It was all very exhilarating. And, we were meeting even more people inside. Boys.
Cody Johnson would be there, and I was in love with him with the ache and passion that only a 7th grade girl with huge teeth and no game could possess. We both loved The Used. We both thought “Buried Myself Alive” was the greatest song ever. It was fate.
My girl-friends did what girl-friends do and scuffled and shuffled around in organized chaos until finally I found myself sitting next to Cody.
My heart was thumping so hard I thought it would jump out of my nonexistent boobs and break my sternum.
I tried to watch the movie with a nonchalant aloofness, but I’m fairly certain my face instead resembled that of the frightened and embarrassed emoji.
The movie was almost over and as the minutes ticked by I felt opportunity slip away from me. I was panicked, despondent. I thought about kissing him, instead of vice versa, but my courage when it came to boys was not yet as bold and cautionless as my fashion choices.
When it came down to it someone had to wingman for me. I was too much of a chicken.
In a (now) hilarious yet cringe-worthy series of events, a girlfriend began an impromptu but obviously premeditated game of telephone. The message reached me.
“Jane and Julia have a bet. If Cody makes the first move Jane gets $5.00. If you make the first move Julia gets $5.00.”
There was a rush of heat to my face and my cheeks flushed red, or whatever shade Asian people turn when they're overcome with embarrassment and a little bit of nausea.
With a trembling hand I cupped my mouth and whispered the proposition into Cody’s ear. He pulled away when I finished humiliating myself and for a brief moment just looked at me with this sort-of half smile. And then he leaned in to kiss me.
It was more of a sloppy mashing of two faces. But still.
I was ecstatic. I was terrified. I was overthinking everything.
“Oh my god I can’t believe this is happening!”
“Am I doing this right?”
“I am definitely doing this wrong.”
“Is everyone looking at us?!”
“How long am I supposed to do this? Shit, turn your head. Wait, no. That’s too much.”
“Wow. I don’t think there’s supposed to be this much saliva.”
After some time had passed, I have no way of knowing how much, we detached from each other's lips and continued to watch the now-forgotten movie as if nothing happened.
The credits rolled, the house lights turned on, and we all went our separate ways when our mothers arrived in mini-vans to pick us up.
And, as the cliche goes, I never saw him again.
I was 13 when I moved back to Florida after living in Texas for nine years. It was the middle of 7th grade -- during Christmas break to be exact. I had no friends and I wore a black hoodie that belonged to my brother nearly every day. It was too big, and the skull from The Punisher was cheaply printed on the front. I carried a mini pink Jansport backpack. I had unfortunate bangs. Suddenly I hated middle school.
I cried a lot, which made my mom cry. Eventually she felt so bad she sent me and my brother (then in 9th grade, yikes) back to McKinney for spring break.
When our plane touched down at DFW airport I was a woman on a mission.
I wasn’t going to let my friends see me sad. I was going to be Florida-cool. And goddamnit I was going to make out with a boy.
After my less than fairy tale first kiss with Cody I probably stalked his AIM profile and left cryptic “Away” messages about him for a while, as you do when it’s 2003, but I really haven’t seen him since that day. I don’t know what happened to him. It was 13 years ago after all.
I'm sure he’s doing well. And that he got over that mono he still kind of had when we made out. Spoiler alert I didn’t get it.
For myself, I can only hope that since I still haven't grown into my teeth that my astonishing lack of game with the opposite sex has improved, but one can never be too sure.