What girl hasn’t dreamed of her first kiss? Long before I even had a crush, I’d already pictured that perfect moment in my mind. I would be standing on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean with a guy who was somehow a cross between Aladdin and Leonardo di Caprio. And as the wind blew the skirt of my long, beautiful dress around my legs, he would take me in his arms and kiss me tenderly at the exact moment that the setting sun touched the horizon. It would be perfectly and utterly romantic. For most of my childhood, that fantasy ranked right up there with the hope that I actually had a fairy godmother who would wave her magic wand and turn Steve (name changed to keep the peace), the classroom bully, into an ugly frog.
But not all childhood dreams come true. Thanks to all my godmothers staying stubbornly, boringly human, Steve grew up from an obnoxious kid to an even more obnoxious teenager without even the slightest amphibious attributes. And as for my first kiss? Well, that, too, did not go exactly as planned.
I was sixteen then, and we’d moved from the small, sheltered neighborhood where I grew up to the capital of the province. However, we lived quite far from the town center, where my mom and my aunt worked as teachers and my siblings and I attended school. To make the daily commute easier, we hired a tricycle to take us to the city proper during the weekdays. The driver was this twenty-something guy with a barbed wire tattoo on his wrist and dyed blond hair. My mother, being one of the friendliest people I know, would chat him up throughout the 45-minute ride. I seldom paid them any attention; I was too busy putting on my socks, cleaning my shoes, combing my still-dripping hair, or doing whatever part of my routine I hadn’t managed to finish before my mom rushed me out of the door. By the time the others had gotten off and I was the only passenger left, it would be pretty quiet in the tricycle. I wasn’t much of a morning person.
Unfortunately, my mom’s friendliness had given the driver the idea that he had license to flirt with the daughter. He kept trying to draw me out in conversation with pick up lines so cliché they should be outlawed. One of his typical attempts at being charming would go like this:
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
I’d shake my head.
“Really? How come? You’re cute. They should be lining up for you.”
“You must be choosy. You’re choosy, right?”
“Well, what do you look for in a guy? Come on, tell me.”
I’d smile politely and say nothing.
“Let me guess – handsome. Girls always like handsome guys. Right?”
By this time I’d be wishing I just lied about not having a boyfriend.
“Maybe you want someone who’s sweet. Come on, don’t be shy. Tell me.”
I wanted to tell him I wasn’t shy, I just wasn’t interested.
“Me, I’m a simple man. I like girls who are petite and have long hair. They should be pretty, like you.” Then he’d look at me so long I’d worry about our safety on the busy road. It was the morning rush hour, and we were surrounded by other vehicles, which, I noted enviously, were being driven by relatively normal, non-amorous drivers.
He would repeat this performance, with slight variations, every morning, not at all discouraged by the fact that the conversation was entirely one-sided. For some reason, he seemed to think himself quite debonair. It wasn’t exactly the best way the start my day, but mostly I found him annoying but harmless enough. I endured his daily pestering until the day he decided to take it to another level.
It was Friday morning, and I was still pretty sleepy by the time we dropped off everybody else at their school. I woke up completely, though, when instead of going the usual busy route to my campus, he steered the tricycle out of the traffic then turned into a quiet, tree-lined, secluded road and stopped….
“Why are we here?” That must have been one of the longest sentences I’d ever said to him.
“I have a great idea,” he said. “Why don’t we hang out for a while and then go watch a movie later?”
I looked at him blankly. “I have classes.”
“So? You can be absent just this once. It’s Friday. I won’t tell.”
“But I don’t want to be absent,” I protested. “Please take me to school now.”
“Come on, don’t be a killjoy,” he wheedled.
“I’m not allowed to go to the movies here.” It was true; there were only two cinemas in town, and they both showed x-rated movies all the time.
“Your mom likes me. She won’t get mad, you’ll see.”
I don’t like you, I wanted to tell him. I was beginning to get nervous, though, so I started to get off. “I’ll just find another ride,” I said.
All of a sudden, he grabbed my arm then leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek. Then he waited for the effect.
I was stunned. How dare he? I wanted to slap him, but horrible scenarios were already flashing through my mind. What if he gets violent? What if he does it again? Wh-what if he rapes me? Oh my god, was I gonna end up as one of those girls who were murdered then chopped into pieces? I looked around frantically – there was even a huge balete tree at the side of the empty road. It was the perfect crime scene, and my ghost would be haunting this spot for all eternity. I took off running.
He followed me. “Come on, get back in,” he cajoled, as if I didn’t know how close I was to being a chop-chop victim. “I’m sorry, okay? I won’t do it again.”
“I’ll take you to school. Just don’t tell your mom.”
I kept running, but I was getting tired. He, on the other hand, was just driving his stupid tricycle and effortlessly keeping up with me as I headed towards the intersection where that quiet road joined a busier one. Where’s traffic when you need it?
Suddenly, he chuckled. “Isn’t this just like a movie? You know, like Robin Padilla and Sharon Cuneta.”
A movie?! Did he just say that? And was I supposed to be Sharon Cuneta? The guy’s delusional. If this were a movie, it would definitely be a horror film, not a romantic flick.
He kept following me like that until I finally got to the intersection. I flagged down another tricycle which, thankfully, stopped. When I got to school, I immediately rushed to my friends and told them about the ordeal. The girls were all shocked and sympathetic. The boys wanted to hunt him down for revenge. My teacher, on the other hand, only wanted to know if he was cute. Once the initial excitement was over, though, there was one common reaction. It was my teacher who voiced it out.
“So I guess you already had your first kiss,” she said.
What? No! I looked at my friends to see if they found the notion as preposterous as I did.
“Yeah, she’s right,” my seatmate said. All the others had the same thoughtful look of agreement on their faces.
“But that doesn’t count!” I objected. He didn’t even look like Aladdin!
No matter what I said, though, it seemed like history was determined to mark that morning as one of the momentous events of my life. At our high school graduation, several of my classmates’ farewell notes said something along the lines of “You’ll find the right guy someday. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind that you already had your first kiss….”
Seven years later, I still get teased about it. My friends and I would be riding a tricycle, and one smart aleck will come out with “Isn’t this just like a movie?” Then everybody will laugh like it’s the funniest thing since the first knock-knock joke. If there’s someone new in the crowd who doesn’t get it, the whole sordid history of my “first kiss” would be dragged out right there and then. Now if only that fairy godmother would do me the favor of appearing anytime soon….