First kiss? Can’t remember. Must have been a “forgettable” one.
First “French” kiss? Now, you’re talking. Twelve years of age. At a party in the cellar of the home of Claire Rover, a girl from my old neighborhood, but not my elementary school. (Yeah, they used to call “grade” school by that name. You say you never heard of “grade” school? How about “K through 8,” but just drop the “K” part. We didn’t do kindergarten in the Catholic Church parish school I attended.)
I remember the lights were low, and people paired up. An older girl was with some fellow my age and most of us laughed when we heard her say in a stage whisper “that’s my girdle.” I didn’t pay much mind. For you see, I ended up with the “new” girl, a gymnast visiting Claire from outside the neighborhood, the love of my yet-to-be-teenage years. Geraldine McFadden.
Gerry was short and compact. She was athletic and wore one of those clinging gym outfits. Short brunette, with brown eyes that seem to sparkle and say “smile” each time she looked at you. “She flipped over me,” is the story I told later about my first ever meeting with her.
She performed a gymnastic flip when I asked Claire if her friend could show us one of her moves. She did . . . Right in the upstairs dining room of the small row home in Brewerytown, a working class neighborhood of North Philadelphia. “Be careful.” some adult told Geraldine as she hit the carpeted floor and shook the keepsakes in the China closet.
I loved her immediately. But who knew if it was reciprocal. Yes, somehow I ended up with her in the basement later. But I had heard that Jimmy Soss, two years my senior and a fellow I always looked up to, had his eye on Gerry and made some moves on her. Jimmy was cool. If she liked him more than me, well, no hard feelings. He could have her. You know what I mean?
But, there we were, two kids seated next to one another. About 20 other youngsters somewhere else in the old concrete cellar. This was before the days of the “rec room.” I’m talking concrete floors, white “chalky-like” brick walls, and skinny wooden beams across the ceiling providing support and not any form of decoration.