THE FIRST KISS (...well given!)
Eduardo as a child on a bike.
The first kiss was still far away...
In 1972 my father closed the corner shop that he had in our house, and opened a bike repair shop in a kind of street market on the second block of Chimbote’s Buenos Aires Avenue, between Pizarro and Garcilazo’s streets.
At the workshop bicycles were rented by the hour to the neighborhood kids. Those were times when having a bicycle was almost a luxury. I helped my dad in his workshop every day after school, as well as during weekends and school vacations.
Day in and day out the workshop was full of teenagers waiting for their turn to rent a bike. For some reason the girls preferred that I help them. And so I became friends with many of them ... even more than friends!
Towards the end of 1973 I was 13 years old. At that time, to prevent theft from the workshop, my dad sent my brother Fernando (who was 14) and I to sleep there each night. We did this happily. In fact, there was good reason for us to be happy.
Every night when we arrived at the workshop, Fernando and I picked the best bikes and went for a ride. I always went in search of the neighborhood girls who were always waiting for me at their door for their "turn" to ride with me on the cross bar.
Night after night, half a dozen girls jumped up for a turn on my bike. For some of them it was a short ride. And for others it was a longer one, through less lit places ...
By the end of 1974, I was usually hugging and kissing some of these girls each night. However, none of these kisses scattered along the bike route was meant to be the first "well given" kiss of my teenage years, since this privilege would be reserved for a kiss that would come the summer of 1975.
Her name was Nelly. She was a little taller, darker skinned, and older than me. She was pretty, with slightly curly hair and a long neck. I enjoyed her company a little more than the other girls’ and her conversation was also more interesting to me.
We kissed through her window, or in the darkness of the area around the workshops on Buenos Aires Avenue. This went on for several weeks, until there came the day of the definitive kiss.
It was like this:
One night in front of the workshops, standing on the wooden railroad ties that ran along Buenos Aires Avenue, I was kissing her. Suddenly she pushed me away gently with her hand. In the glow that came from the nearby Martinez Undertaker's neon sign, I could see her eyes. And she said:
"... Eduardo, that is how a boy kisses his mom". I still had not recovered from my surprise when she added: "I am going to teach you how a boy should kiss a girl". And then she kissed me.
It was a new and different kiss. A kiss that paled in comparison to all the misspent kisses that came before. A kiss that marked a "before" and "after". A kiss that charted a new era in the innocence of my 14 years of age.
Nelly smiled. "Did you like it?" she asked. And she also asked if I could repeat the lesson. I do not remember what my answer was for the first question, but I tried to be “diligent” in showing my yes to the latter. She did not present new claims.
Later my relationship with Nelly ended. I don’t remember how. What I do remember is that two years later she left her previous school and went to finish high school at Santa María Reyna, across from my house.
In those days, in the afternoons, I would wash my face, groom my hair, and then stand at the corner of my house in order to see the girls leaving the school. Among the group that passed by was Nelly. I smiled shyly. She smiled back mischievously.
And while she smiled, I seemed to find in the brightness of her eyes the reflection of a distant smile. The smile I saw two years previously, thanks to the glow of the neon sign outside the Martinez Funeral Home, in the darkness of the second block of Buenos Aires Avenue...
... the reflection of Nelly smiling at me after the lesson and the first kiss (well given) of my adolescence.
New Hampshire, USA
ps - If the reader were curious to know more about Nelly, a previous article provides additional references. This is the link:
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