First Kiss

I wanted to kiss her but God wasn’t sending a message yet. I was too shy to kiss unless God sent some lightening down. A real sharp blast that would blow up the atmosphere.  Everyone would squeal. Birds would fly in awkward directions, smashing into light poles, or boats. She would move closer and I would put my tongue straight in her mouth. The world would never be the same. But God was leaving me alone on this one.

(Claudia's book. I am the photographer).

Three years later you can fart in front of a girl, no problem. Two times, three times. They don’t even notice. Sometimes you even stop showering for a week at a time. They notice but whatever. Three years. What are you doing to do?

Claudia and I were on our second date. I wined and dined her. I forced her to drink alcohol during lunch. She didn’t even want to drink, I could tell, but I was drinking. So I forced her. I said, “C’mon, just one glass of wine”.  Maybe I would even get her back to my apartment although that filled me with too much nervousness.

She asked me a question, “How do you combat fear? Like when you wake up late at night worried.” I explain what I did to fight that, a sense that things will work out. They’ve always worked out before. So I use a weird form of life statistics to says that they should always turn out well in the future.

Although while I was saying that I was thinking of my dad. He had a stroke and then it took him two years of immobility and no speech and probably no thought before he died. Things never got better. You have to stay healthy also. But back to kissing and farting.

To solve my worries: I always know that 99% of my worries never come true. When I worry I stop myself and say, “I’ve probably worried about this before and it didn’t happen so it won’t happen now.” Fortunately now I have a huge database of worries I can draw from. And worries always, by definition, manifest themselves in the future. Far away.

All I have here is the present moment right now. And at that moment I wanted to kiss her. To tell her it will all be okay. “Another glass of wine?”

So we took a walk. It was a long walk. I kept looking at the clear sky. Where was the lightening. Where was Santa Claus riding across the sky. Maybe with unicorns. I had her at a fence looking over the East River and South Street Seaport. We just stood there by the fence. We were there for twenty minutes. I could’ve kissed her but I was scared. Then I said, “let’s keep walking.”

(not quite Claudia and me. But close.)

So we walked. And we talked. I can’t even remember what we talked about. I kept looking for signs. Like a giant tarantula that would have human eyes and would be smiling at me with a full set of teeth. If I saw that I would definitely kiss her. I might even fart or worse in front of her if that happened.

Finally we were at the north-most (east-most?) fence at Battery Park City. We were looking across the East River at Brooklyn. We were talking. I can remember drawing a fancy telescope for my father when I was five years old (“look,” I said, “I invented this!” and everyone clapped. The little genius!) but I couldn’t remember any of the conversation with Claudia that moment.

After about a half hour talking at the fence and being no more than few inches from her, her in her shiniest red dress, her high heels, her hair perfect, her accent inadmissible evidence that I was already in love with her (after our first date I called a friend and said, “she speaks English as a second language” and my friend says, “I guess that’s over then” knowing the actual hatred I had for dating such a species but I got off the phone thinking, “maybe not this time” and texted Claudia before I fell to sleep, “it was really nice meeting you today”. Smooth move.)…oh where was I. Don’t you hate those long parentheticals and then you have to look at the first parenthesis to see where the thought began?

Well, don’t do that here. I will tell you again. We were at that fence, the second fence of the day, with nobody around, and we were looking at the exact same river, probably two miles from the first fence where we were looking at the same river and I still didn’t kiss her.

So we started walking away and then we stood near the fence. It was so clear the signals were there. You don’t have to be a psychic. She just spent two hours walking around with me in her best clothes. She had better things to do.

So I used my best technique. I made fun of her.

I said, “You know, your teeth look kind of like the teeth of a vampire.” And it was true, she had two very pointy teeth along the side. For all I know, she might still be a vampire. I might wake up one morning either dead or a newly initiated vampire. I hope the latter. Because ever since I read “Interview with…” by Anne Rice it seemed sort of a cool way to be.

(not quite Claudia's teeth. But close).

She blushed immediately and put her hands on her mouth. I felt bad then for saying what I said. “No,” I said, “I’m all about teeth. I hate when people have perfect teeth. I think your pointy teeth are beautiful.” And I moved in closer as she moved her hands down. And we kissed.

After that, things hurry up quickly. Kiss done. Lunch took two hours. Things to do. Places to go. Mustn’t risk more “action!” Next date is this. We set our clocks, adjusted our calendars, I walked her to the subway stop. “Goodbye!” “Goodbye!” My chest was on fire. She was smiling. I was happy. All the bad things in the world had been scrubbed and cleansed.

Afterwards I called Dan, “this is it,” I said, “the long national nightmare is over. The search is done.”

Happy Third Anniversary of our first kiss, Claudia.

See Also:

How I Met Claudia

How I Met Claudia (the comic book version)

Why I Write Books Even Though I’ve Lost Money On Every Book I’ve Written.

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