I remember we were in the middle of the forest that surrounded the camp. I was fourteen years old. It was daytime. In camp you did what you could to stay entertained but, when you had nothing else to do, you had to find something new. For a group of horny adolescents this usually meant organizing a kissing game. I remember I was terrified of kissing games back then. I had never kissed a girl, much less just any girl, much less a girl that actually liked me. ‘Spin the Bottle’, ‘English Week’ and ‘Truth or Dare’ were as horrifying to me as a porcupine to a Trypanophobic (that’s the fear of needles) or the world’s tiniest elevator to a Claustrophobic(that’s the fear of small spaces). As to why I was unnerved by these games, I don’t remember, but it may have had something to do with my extreme social anxiety(that’s the fear of pretty much any social interaction).
We were split up by age in little sets we called ‘blocks’ and by gender in ‘tribes’. Mine was the last block, which means we were the oldest. As the oldest we had some sort of reputation to maintain. Like, being big and cool and responsible but fun and all that stuff. This also meant that romantic gossip had to be almost exclusively generated by our block, which put a lot of pressure on some people.
I remember this was one of those times I feared so much when there was basically so much free time between activities that everybody decided to play something while we waited for supper(or was it dinner? I forget). We were all in our teens, so maybe the oldest one was sixteen and the youngest was thirteen, or maybe I was the youngest, I can’t remember. As I remember it there were five or six girls in the other tribe, I liked two of them, four i didn’t care for, the other one I hated, so maybe there were seven girls. Basically everyone was paired up nicely. In summer camp, you have to mark your territory soon because you only have a couple of weeks to be together and if you really like someone (Be that physically or otherwise) you had to make your move soon. I remember it was the middle of the camp so basically everyone that was looking for a summer boyfriend/girlfriend had already made their moves. I hadn’t. As I said, I was very socially anxious.
I kind of remember that the game they chose to play was ‘Spin the Bottle’. it may have been something else, but I think it was ‘Spin the Bottle’. Obviously everybody was pleased as punch to get a chance to kiss the person they fancied, and most of them actually did it. I remember I prayed for the bottle to point to someone else. I remember I was as nervous as a death row inmate. The minutes felt like hours as the game went on, and for a very long time the bottle mercifully refused to point at me. The girl I liked was not even there that day, so I had no real motivation to kiss anyone anyway. Of course, when it comes to chance, things (like bottles) are bound to come your way.
I can’t really remember the name of the girl whose turn it was to spin the bottle that time, but I remember she seemed to be the most unbearable girl in the block. I think her name was something with a D. Let’s call her D from now on then. Anyway it was D’s turn to spin the bottle and we were all ten minutes away from supper time. Since I could not stand D, her spinning the bottle made me very nervous. If there was one person in the whole camp that I absolutely did not want to kiss, that was D. Go ahead and guess what happened.
The once merciful bottle decided now to turn against me, its neck pointed victoriously at me. I had to kiss D. ‘Ten seconds’, one of the girls said. That was the rule. It had to be ten uninterrupted seconds of smooching. I had never kissed anyone before. I went into imitation mode. She started to act all grossed out. I did the same. She tried to delay the unavoidable by saying she really did not want to do it. I did the same. I remember we were all sitting in a circle, except I was not sitting anymore. Reluctantly we took a couple of steps into the center of the circle. Then we kissed.
Actually, it wasn’t so much as kissing as it was pressing our lips together. I did not close my eyes, since I did not know I was supposed to. Apparently I was because some girls started giggling. Being the romantic type, I always thought some kind of magic was supposed to be created when you kissed someone. Of course, there was no magic. One thing I realized was that she was definitely overreacting. Even with our lips pressed together she was still making gross-out faces and moving her hands like I was forcing her or something. I felt like apologizing to her.
When the ten seconds were over she removed her face from mine as fast as a space shuttle taking off to the moon. I think she started spitting or something, which was another kind of overreaction since we had not exchanged even the tiniest bit of saliva. I remember the game ended then, because we had to start walking back to camp. Talk about anti-climatic. Everyone forgot all about it over supper.
I have given a bunch of kisses since then. Five years later, I consider myself to be an excellent kisser and smooching still ranks as my number-one favorite activity. It goes to show that things are often not exactly as you first experience them. D probably was not affected long-term by that kiss, not like I was at least. I made a promise to myself that I would never give a kiss as meaningless and magicless as that first kiss had been for me.
I think so far I’ve kept that promise.