Smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss

* All names have been changed to protect the innocent and nerdy.

The watery moon winked overhead.

The December winds played with Samantha’s loose, brown braids. Letting out a long sigh, she watched as her warm breath hung suspended in the cool sea-salt air.

As she unlocked her front door, she traced the top of her lips, remembering the kitten’s paw touch of Dave’s hand against hers.

Her first real first date.

Idling outside of her house, they had taken off their seat belts and held hands, making silent, but short lived eye contact.

Samantha hadn’t known if she was going to throw up or start crying.

When Dave placed his arm around her shoulders, she too shifted, nestling into the smooth groove of his upper chest, stealing glances at their reflection in the rear view mirror.

Samantha liked the way the olive tones of Dave’s skin stood in contrast to her own.  She had smiled when she felt him fiddle with the frayed pompom on the top of her toque.

Unfortunately, in an awkward attempt to turn up the heat, but not dislodge Samantha from her nook, Dave accidentally poked Samantha in the eye, hard, and with his elbow.

“Owww…” moaned Samantha.

Dave had shot ramrod in his seat, appalled.

“I’m sorry! Samantha, are you okay?  I’m – are you okay?”  Inching to the edge of his seat, Dave had paused, and then gingerly, reached out to try and stroke the right side of her cheek.

Samantha, trying her best to smile it off, wanted desperately to pretend that she wasn’t hurt, but instinctively shied away from his touch.

Slowly, slowly, she opened her eye.

“It’s…it’s fine. Really.” She said.

Dave shifted a little closer. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Samantha wiped away at her tears. “Yes.”

“I cannot believe I did that.” Dave rubbed at his furrow brow.

Samantha let out a timid laugh. “It’s totally okay.”

Turning to face her, this time Dave did place his hand on her cheek.

Samantha felt herself turn to stone.

For a second their faces seemed to hover next to one another.

Samantha’s cheeks burned hot, two glowing coals in the light of the dash.

Her heartbeat in her ears.

Dave inched closer.

Her breath paused, lips parted.

And then, as the car stalled, their teeth clattered together – a crack like that of a stack of pencils knocked onto a freshly swept floor.

Panicked, Samantha had quickly tried to kiss him again, but only got the peak of his nose and then the side of his chin.

“I’m sorry! I’m not very good at – ” She blurted out.

But before she could finish, Dave had placed his soft, shaking hands on either side of her face and pulling her closer, pressed his lips against hers.

Samantha pressed back.

Thinking back, as she tiptoed to the top of her staircase, Samantha realized with just a twinge of disappointment that she had completely forgotten to close her eyes.

Next time, she thought to herself.

Next time.

Paying you lip service

My first French kiss was in France.

With a French boy.

His name was Julian.

I was in grade nine, on exchange in Dijon. As a French immersion student, I was one of the lucky few who, because of my fluency, was picked to spend a month oversees studying at the lycée.

The trip was a pilot programme – the school wanted to “try it out” and see if it was something they would consider implementing on a permanent, yearly basis.

Believe me when I say that my time in the city as a student was a total trip.

First off, my home-stay parents didn’t seem to grasp the concept that I was a vegetarian. Every day for lunch they would make me these amazing baguettes filled with salami, or rotisserie chicken, or roast beef – seriously, you name the viande and it was packed up for me every morning, between two slices of bread.

I felt so horrible the one and only time I binned my lunch, that from that day onwards I would gift them to one of the other Canadian students whose parents didn’t think to send them off to class with anything at all.

It was a pretty sweet trade off in the end, because in return, whomever I had gifted the sammie would give me a couple of francs, which I would then use to purchase a crepe from the creperie down the street.

A replica of one of the many crepes I ate in France.

Come to think of it, I pretty much ate my body weight in Nutella during my stay.

(Whoever owned stocks in that brilliant, hazelnut-chocolate nectar of the gods that month must have done very, very well.)

My classes were great, though some (re: computer science) were a complete write off because not only did I understand nothing of which was said (alas, I learned much as an immersion student, but the inner workings of PCs was never a topic included in our weekly dictées) but the boys in that class were so darn funny, I was too busy concentrating on keeping all my urine inside my body to really focus on anything else.

Other notes of mention: French schools have super long hours, way crazy math, and the multi-storied, multi-buildinged campus made our school back home look like a pre-kindergarten.

Okay, back to kisses.

It was Friday night, the end of our second week of study.

All of the Canadian students were invited to attend the school’s senior dance.

Point: high-school dances are complete gong shows, and a completely ridiculous explosion of drama, hormones, angst, and hilarity the world over.

Teenagers – doing it like it’s the most important thing in life, since time immemorial.

Anywho, so myself and my home-stay gal Charlotte showed up ready to get our tip-top grooves on with the rest of the senior grades.

As we walked into the gymnasium I couldn’t help remarking to myself, for what was probably the (rougly) two thousandth time since touching down in France: HOLY CRAP FRENCH BOYS WEAR TIGHT PANTS.

My immediate follow-up thought was (of course): I wonder if any of them think I’m pretty?

And so it went on.

We danced to Will Smith and Ricky Martin, and a TON of crazy French rap and R&B. At one point the DJ played a rap song that had bagpipes in it and everyone went completely batshit crazy, dancing like complete madmen and singing like banshees, which both cracked me up but also made me really happy.

It was at this point, as I moved off to the side, just to watch the carnage unfold – a slightly loopy smile flickering across my mostly shocked visage – that a boy about my height (pretty good for 14 years old, because at this point I had already reached five foot ten) came and stood beside me.

He had sandy brown hair, in the style of Chris Klein from American Pie. Freckles dotted the bridge of his nose, and his front teeth were crooked, but only slightly so.

Same hair. TOTALLY.

He was a bona fide hottie.

Bonjour, he said.

Bonjour, I said.

My heart nearly exploded out my chest right then and there. A boy!? Talking to ME!?

It was almost a real Alien moment.

Voulez-vous sortir avec moi? Juste pour quelques instants? He asked.

He wanted to go outside!? With ME!?

HELL YES I WILL ACCOMPANY YOU OUTSIDE I wanted to yell.

Instead, I remembered to smile coquettishly and simply nod. Also, the less I spoke, the less likely I was to barf all over my shoes.

We walked outside and sat on top of a picnic table in the middle of a covered courtyard. We talked about school, and Canada, and France, and good grief, I’m pretty sure we talked about Will Smith’s latest CD, and then – WHAM.

Julian, of the freckles and the tight jeans, was kissing me.

Kissing ME!?

Yes.

And honestly, it wasn’t good.

Dude was a smoker and as much as half of my brain was screaming THIS IS THE MOST ROMANTIC THING EVER!!!!1!!1!!, the other have was screaming THIS IS LIKE LICKING A BLOODY ASHTRAY MAKE IT STOP.

Like kissing one of these it was.

Also, French kissing may look glamorous and sexy as hell to all those young, impressionable kidlets at the movie theatre, (aka me) but in real life, for the first time – EGADS.

Do not want.

Especially with Monsieur Marlboro.

Anyways, the long and short of it is, we made out for a good hour (you think just because the guy tasted like a tobacco leaf I didn’t want to keep kissing him? DREAM ON!) before returning to the dance for one final slow jam.

We met up the next day, ate at McDonalds and walked around the old town.

On Monday, after spending about half an hour looking for him after class, Julian’s friend Tony came up to me and let me know that he was really sorry, but Julian had just been using me to get back at his girlfriend who had cheated on him the week before.

This was the second time in a very short period that I felt as though I was going to have a real alien moment.

Or barf on my shoes.

But I didn’t. I sucked it up and moved on.

But only until of course I arrived home, opened a jar of Nutella, listened to Everybody Hurts on repeat six hundred times, and wept like the silly, angsty teenager that I was.

So there you have it.

I had my first French kiss, with a French boy, in France.

Which is why of course I married a Swiss man.