I got my first kiss from a girl when I was in third grade. That's what, about eight years old? That seems ridiculous, though I'm sure I was there.
Her name was Mary Alice Brannon and I recall her only vaguely before and after the moment she appeared out of nowhere and, for no reason I can recall or imagine, kissed me on the playground.
Let the record show I did not return the kiss, but I liked it.
I don't remember if either of us said anything before or after the kiss. I don't remember if I thought she was cute before then, though I sure as heck thought so afterward.
And let's stop for a moment right there and ponder something psychologists have no doubt picked apart into tiny, tasteless, tedious pieces:
How can pre-pre-pre-pubescent kids be instinctively attracted to a person of the opposite sex? Isn't there a biological component required to engage a chemical reaction that third graders haven't begun to physically develop?
I didn't desire Mary Alice and I'm pretty sure she didn't have any such feeling for me, either. We were eight, we weren't capable of desire.
So, why was it a happy thing? Mary Alice kissed me on the cheek and I liked it.
She was a beauty, I remember that. She had long reddish brown curls and a light complexion befitting her apparently Irish surname.
If I was writing a sizzling novel of elementary school lust I'd probably describe her skin as "florid" and I'd throw in a passage about the flirtatious, dancing fire in her eyes. That's the way I remember her now, anyway. The experience of an eight-year-old sifted through five-plus decades of life is very sketchy and requires a dash of imagination.
Mary Alice had an older brother named Bradley, I remember that for sure. He was probably in fifth grade at the time. I steered clear of Brad because he was just too cool to approach, Eddie Haskell to my Beaver Cleaver. And, because I was afraid he'd find out what happened on the playground that day and beat the ever-loving snot out of me even though it was his sister who had kissed me, not the other way around!
But I didn't just fear Brad, I envied him, too. Brad was grown up (ten or eleven!) and cool. He lived in the same house as Mary Alice. He watched TV with her, ate dinner with her, went on vacation with her for cripes sake and probably even saw her every night and morning in her pajamas!
Mary Alice Brannon changed me forever. She injected an Adam and Eve aspect into my life I couldn't possibly understand at the time and still don't. But I do remember that moment.
She kissed my cheek and I liked it.
Though I have no idea why.