Sweet sixteen and never been kissed? No! I have kissed many times. All those times I kissed when we played catch and kiss on the road. Well, maybe they were only pecks, not like the way they kissed in the pictures. With their arms around each other, they would look into each other’s eyes, then lips lock. I suppose that is a real kiss.
“Roger, wake up. You’re day dreaming again. Get the tool box and your lunch, we’re going on a job,”
“Yes, sir. Where are we going, sir?”
“We’re off to that site out the road. We’ll get the bus.”
“Roger,” his boss said at break time, “slip over to that shop and get a bottle of milk.” The girl in the shop passed him the milk without a word.
At the break, the other boys were talking about the girl. She looked nice, they said, but Roger didn’t notice. Next day, when getting the milk he asked for ten Major cigarettes, just to impress her.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Oh, Roger the Dodger,” she laughed.
When getting his change, he thought he felt her fingers touch his hand.
That evening while with his friends, he thought about her. Yes, she is nice. I wonder what is her name. These were strange feelings he was having. I hope she is there tomorrow.
The morning seemed endless. He was nervous and break time couldn’t come soon enough. She seemed different. Was that lipstick she was wearing? Gorgeous, she looked. He mustered up the nerve to ask her name.
“Guess,” she said.
“Oh, I don’t know. Peg?”
“Oh, you are right. How did you know?”
“Just pure luck, that’s all.”
When getting his change this time, their fingers did touch. What was this feeling he was having? Why were his feet not touching the ground, and what was this feeling in his tummy? It was as if his stomach was empty. Maybe these were the butterflies he had heard about. That must be it.
The job was nearing an end and would finish by the weekend. I would love to ask her out to the pictures. I would have to have the courage tomorrow. I will…but wait…what if she says “no, you must be joking”; I would be so embarrassed, I would die.
Somehow, he found the courage.
“Yes,” she said, “I thought you would never ask. I will be off on Saturday afternoon.”
“So will I.”
“Where will we meet.”
“We could meet at the top of Grafton Street at five o’clock.”
“Great, that would be nice.”
“Maybe we will take a walk in the park?”
“Right, don’t be late, Roger,” and she laughed.
All that night with his pals, his mind was on Saturday night. What will I wear; will I tell them; no, they would make a joke of me. Will I have enough money? I will tell my ma, maybe she will let me keep my wages, ah, she will. I love my ma, she will understand. I will walk in on Saturday, that will save a few pence, and I’m sure I can walk home as well.
It’s five o’clock. I hope she won’t be late, but sure women are always late. Will I recognise her, will she be all dressed up? Ten pas now; don’t worry; she will come. I feel like I am under a spotlight, everyone’s watching me and saying “he’s being stood up”. Move around, look in the shop windows, pretend you are just browsing. Twenty past. He turns around and there she is, standing looking at him.
“Oh,” she says. “I’m sorry I’m late…the bus was late.”
“Don’t worry, sure I have just arrived.”
“Liar,” he thought; that’s a good start.
They crossed to the park. It was a lovely evening; lots of people strolling and you people sitting on the grass. They stopped on the bridge and looked into the pond below.
“We are on O’Connell Bridge,” he said.
“No, we are not. This is the park.”
“Yes, but it is called O’Connell Bridge after Daniel. See.”
He showed her the name etched on the big granite stone.
“Oh, you’re right.”
He felt full of himself knowing this.
He wanted to hold her hand but he did not want to make the first move. She was all talk.
“I don’t want to be working in the shop for long.” She wanted to have her own shop some day. Not a grocery shop but a ladies fashion shop on Grafton Street.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“Oh, I want to be my own boss too, with my own business.”
They sat in the grass for a while before getting up to go to the pictures.
He held out his hand and she took it. She gripped tight and didn’t let go. Going to the Grafton Pictures was posh; it was not like the local picture houses. It will be dearer but I think I have enough. The men always pay for the girls, my Da told me, that way you will be the gentleman. I hope there won’t be any kissing in this one. It is a Western so I think I am safe. I would not like her to see me blushing. The second film is the Marks Brothers. That’s funny so there won’t be any in that.
That reminded him of a painting and decorating shop on South Ann Street called the Marks Brothers. I used to think it was the real Marks Brothers. I hope when we get outside, she takes my hand.
“That was lovely and thanks for paying. I had never been to the Grafton before. It is real posh and my friends won’t believe me when I tell them. Maybe I will keep the ticket.”
They were alone at the bus stop, she still held his hand and he was feeling great. Suddenly she turned and faced him, her lips were so close he could hardly breathe. Her eyes so blue, looked so big. She pulled him close and said “Aren’t you going to kiss me?” Their lips met, his heart stopped, his head spun. Her soft body. He thought this is how they kiss in the pictures. His first kiss. Then he heard a voice: “Are you two going to stay that way all night or are you getting on the bus.” It was the bus conductor. She moved away but just before she got onto the bus, she threw him a kiss.
“Goodnight, Roger the Dodger. Don’t be late tomorrow.”
He felt those butterflies again. Maybe I will stay here forever.
When he opened his eyes there were other people at the bus stop but he was feeling so proud he just puffed out his chest, smiled and turned to go. He was feeling so happy – his first real kiss and he didn’t make an eejet of himself.
I can’t walk, my feet want to run. I can’t wait to tell my Ma. She will be up listening to music on the radio. She loves her songs – the Top 20 will be on now. I love my Ma; she is so kind and gentle. When I tell her, she will just smile and offer to make tea and give me a big hug.
Tomorrow I will tell my mates when we are going to Mass. But then again – I won’t because they are a lot of messers and they will just slag me off. I will lock this night away in my memory, never to be forgotten. That is the great thing about your mind – you can store nice things there for yourself and nobody else. Sometimes people say: “I know what you are thinking” but they don’t really know, do they?” What if I am taken off the job on Monday and sent somewhere else? I won’t see her at lunchtime. She will probably forget about me and move on to date someone else. But she might have had butterflies too. She did say she would keep the tickets from the Grafton, so posh, to show her friends. I wonder if girls get the same feelings as boys when they get their first kiss? Maybe she will tell her friends that she met this lovely fellow and brag a little, and say how good looking I am. Now Roger, get a hold of yourself. You are day dreaming again.
Well, would you believe it? I am being moved from the site. I am being put on a job on the other side of town. She won’t know and she will think I have no interest. Feck, what will I do?