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© William Cardoza

I have found men who didn’t know how to kiss. I have always found time to teach them. – Mae West

The kids in my old neighborhood were mad about kissing! I am not sure whether this was due to a proximity to the 49th parallel, a noxious substance in the drinking water, or an abnormally high level of red dye in our bloodstreams from ingesting copious amounts of Jello, lollipops, and popsicles. Whatever the reason, nearly every game that we played, from flag to tag to hide-and-seek, had some kissing component connected with it.

The boy next door, two years older than I, was the dreamiest boy on the planet. He attracted not only girls but also boys to play in his backyard. It was he who conceived and organized all the games with a complicated set of regulations that always ruled in his favor and gave him the license to kiss any and every girl he pleased.

I would like to report that my heart throb neighbor was the one who had planted the first kiss on my lips. He had so much practice, that I am sure he had perfected the art of kissing to a “T.” Unfortunately, one of his protégées tackled me in a round of tag and pressed his lips against mine before I could resist. Since then, every time I see a slimy earthworm lying on the sidewalk after a rain, I am reminded of that first kiss.

Model – Lauren DiMarco