We have watched a lot of sappy, romantic movies lately. I guess it’s an improvement from the action movies the husband used to watch but I’m amused watching him scroll through the romantic comedy section to find the “right” movie for us to watch. Yesterday he settled on “Hitch” with Will Smith and Kevin James. I never even heard of this movie before. And within the first few minutes I could tell why. It was funny and cheesy and totally predictable. Basically it starts with Hitch’s philosophy on dating and women and what they want or need. Will Smith is Alex Hitchens “Hitch”, the dating doctor, the guy who helps guys learn how to date a woman. He explains the ultimate goal of dating a woman is to get to the first kiss. The first kiss that will tell her everything she needs to know about where she’s going. Really sappy and sweet and gag-worthy at the same time. Hitch helps this bumbling goof named Albert date beautiful socialite Allegra. There’s twist and turns and laughter but at least no tears. In the end it’s a crazy happy ending. I have to admit it was a good let’s-just-hang-out date night movie.
At one point Hitch tells Albert, “I need you to wrap your head around this. Tonight, Allegra Cole may get her *last* first kiss.” Albert responds with pulling out his Asthma inhaler so he could breathe. It made me laugh and groan at the same time. But it’s true. That “first kiss” does become your last first kiss. And before I watched that movie I had written this post in my head. So, apparently this was meant to be.
When the girls were 8 and 9 we read “The Princess and the Kiss: A Story of God’s Gift of Purity” almost every night for about two weeks until I refused to read it again. It’s a sweet story about a princess who has the gift of her first kiss to give away. She goes through all these handsome princes with horrible character flaws and realizes each one is not worthy of her gift. One day she meets a peasant boy who has his own gift to share. They marry, give each other their gift. At the time I was still trying to figure out how to talk to my girls about first kisses and purity and virginity and sex. For two little girls in the midst of princess adoration the book was perfect. I KNEW the minute I read them the fairy tale of saving your first kiss for the day you were married that questions were going to be asked that I didn’t know how to answer. So I prayed that when the time came Abba would give me the answers.
The question came later than I thought. “Mom, was dad your first kiss?” There was no way I was getting out of the conversation. So I said, “No.” I didn’t expect to hear the unanimous “WHAT?” from all three kids. Seriously? They had seen their parents struggle for years. They had seen their parents fight and insult and scream. Surely they didn’t think that their parents had some fairy tale love story. But they did. And in that moment our children learned that fairy tales don’t always look like the ones in the books. Our children KNOW, beyond all doubt, that their God, the one their momma calls Abba, can redeem in a way that can only be described as an absolute miracle. Yes, he was not my first kiss, nor I his, but he is my last kiss and love and the one that Abba designed for me. And nothing that happened before the day we met cheapens or mars or taints the beauty of who we are today.
So, the questions led to other questions and I found myself telling them a story. The story of our last “first kiss”. And no, it was not on the day we married.
When the husband asked to date me I said yes with conditions. One of those was that I was 18. I knew because of our age difference that dating someone “under-age” COULD cause complications. He was my best friend, albeit one who was giving my stomach fits, and I did not want to get him in trouble. But as the summer crept slower and slower towards my 18th birthday I found it harder to wait until I was 18. So I sent him a note in service. “Do you think it’s weird that I think my best friend is cute.” He responded. “We will talk after service.” And talk he did. He arrived at our house. My adopted parents and sister mysteriously disappeared. It was just him and I in the dining room. We agreed that dating was the right step. If we married other people we could not continue being friends. A week later after a contract was drawn up between him, I, my adopted parents and our pastor, I was allowed to date the man who was to be my husband in 4 years.
One of the very specified rules was that we were to maintain a strict 6-inch-rule and always have an approved chaperone with us. We agreed to the rules. And then I quickly realized the husband is not a rule follower and although I am, when it comes to the husband, I follow him.
September 12, 1992. We had plans with a group to go ice skating. I asked to spend the night with my friend who lived next door, simply because I knew her parents would let us stay out until Midnight. I managed to get permission and my friend helped me get ready for the date. I was 2 weeks shy of my 18th birthday. We went skating and afterwards we decided to go eat. When we arrived at the restaurant the boyfriend told my friend we were going for a drive and would be back. My brain was going crazy. “Um, I’m not supposed to be alone with you. Where are we going? I’m going to be in so much trouble if we get caught.” I was quiet and he reached over and took my hand. I was so scared of getting caught but I wanted to be right where I was at. I wanted to just be alone with him.
We drove all over and I had NO idea where we were going. We pulled into a place called Cook Park. I spoke up, “The park is closed. We can’t be in here.” He looked at me and smiled. (I’ve since learned this smile means T-R-O-U-B-L-E) “Relax. It’s ok. We won’t get caught.” So we pulled into the empty parking lot and parked. I just KNOW I’m going to get in trouble if we get caught. He rubs my hair by my ears. I know I should tell him no, but I don’t. Then he says, “Let’s get out a minute.” Now I’m confused. Not only are we parked in the closed park, he wants us to get out? And do what?
He turns on the radio and we stand there. And we’re talking. And I’m trying hard to relax. Then he gives me a hug…and I’m done. I am now torn between I like..um really like this man…and I have just broken about every rule they have for me. And not only am I going to be in trouble, they are going to make me quit dating him because he’s not a good influence on my ability to follow the rules. And then, he leans in and he kisses me. And I don’t care one ounce that I’m going to be in trouble. I just like this man. And he’s sweet, and he’s respectful and then he apologizes for kissing me. And then it goes from amazing…to not so amazing. Because now there are lights. Another car is there. And we are caught. And I quickly realize the person catching us is a Tigard police officer.
It’s 11:30 on a Saturday night. I’m 17 and he’s 26. The officer walks over to us and asks if we know the park is closed. I say nothing, I know that opening my mouth is going to make the situation that much worst. The boyfriend replies, “No sir.” I am trying to not laugh. He does too know, I told him. He asks why we are in the park. “Just talking”. The officer looks at me and then asks, “How old are you?” Now I’m scared and praying and wanting to get back in the car and leave. I’m worried that the boyfriend is about to get arrested. “I’m 17.” He looks at me. He looks at the boyfriend. “How old are you?” “I’m 26.” He looks at us both. “Did you know she’s under 18?” “Yes sir.” I’m REALLY not liking where this is going. Of course he knows I’m under 18…is that really a problem? We are just standing in a parking lot talking. Yes, we kissed, but that’s not against the law…or at least the state of Oregon law. Our church, I think we just broke every law there is to break.
“I need to see ID”. So the boyfriend gets his driver’s license and I get my ID (I can’t drive). He looks at me and communicates “I got this.” with his eyes. The officer asks if my parents are home. I’m now panicking. Um. How do I explain that my parents, at home, are NOT really my parents. That I am not a “legal” foster kid and not adopted….but I am? How do I explain that if he calls my parents my entire life is going to end before the morning arrives. I tell him that they are…and then I say that he really can’t call them. Because I’m not technically supposed to be there, with my boyfriend, without a chaperone. I’m basically begging for mercy from this police officer.
So, he is kind. He hands us back our ID. He tells the boyfriend that he now has 20 minutes to get me home. Curfew is midnight in the state of Oregon for someone under 18. He won’t call my parents, but if I am not home by midnight and I’m caught the boyfriend is going to wish he took me straight home. He says goodnight, we get in the car. And leave the park. I’m upset. The boyfriend doesn’t seem to be as upset. “We’ll laugh about this one day.” he tells me. I’m not laughing at that moment. I broke the rules and I was caught. By the police. I’m not amused.
The next morning I was in trouble. Not because of what happened in the park, but because somehow I thought I had permission to stay the night with my friend. But apparently I did not. And when they called next door to tell me to come home, her brother and his friend said I wasn’t home and I was out with the boyfriend. Past my curfew. So I ended up in the pastor’s office. And I lied. I was not willing to admit to breaking the rules and being caught by a police officer. I didn’t want him in trouble. I ended up being grounded for 2 weeks. But I still had a boyfriend and I wasn’t going to be returned to my parents in Idaho.
So, that’s how my 26-year-old boyfriend sat at his parents’ table and had a conversation about why he couldn’t call me or talk to me or see me. And his father asked, “How is it that you are dating someone who can be grounded?”. Sigh.
The husband was right. It is something we can laugh about now. We still like to go to parks, after dark, to kiss…and luckily we haven’t been caught yet. He’s still my best friend, he still makes me shake my head and laugh and he still makes my stomach flip when he reaches over and takes my hand while he’s driving. So, I broke the rules and let this man kiss me on a fall night. And it was worth it.