The first kiss of a thirty-five year old man.

The following is taken from This is Not My Spacesuit: The Diary of Dean Holdsworth, by Luke Morris

October 31, Saturday

My mouth feels like the fur of a hurriedly decomposing cat, yet I can still taste strawberry.

I kissed someone, Diary. I can’t remember her name. I asked twice, forgot twice, stopped asking. I remember she had full cheeks, used a lot of eyeliner, had a gentle voice and wants to be a teacher. She was a friend of Matt’s girlfriend. These two girls meet the team at the pub, and as we walked from the pub to the Fringe bar I was next to her and felt a ‘Hello,’ ‘How do you know?’, and ‘Are you enjoying the night?’, sort of chat was required. I was nothing special, we simply had time to kill during the walk so be began to talk.

I didn’t say anything interesting, it was idle Point A to Point B chatter, but at the Fringe Cocktail Bar a lack of space meant the girls could not escape to dance. I was positioned next to, oh, let’s call her Emma, I was positioned next to Emma again, and again I asked her about her night. She answered, again, and with no other ideas I offered to buy her a drink. She accepted. With that job done I asked her about the drink. She liked it. It was a cocktail of coloured alcoholic liquids and ice, common in the bar. I asked her about the music playing  and about things she enjoyed.

‘Mum wants me to go into being a dentist. That’s where the money is she says.’

‘What do you want to do?’ I asked.

‘Ah,’ a hesitation. She looked into my eyes for judgement, ‘Well, I want to do teaching.’

‘Well you should,’ I said.

She smiled.

‘What are you doing?’ she asked.

I said, ‘I don’t know.’

She laughed.

We broke apart when Pat came across. He leant between us, his arm against a wall, and started talking about the club and training.

At first this was a welcome change, then I thought it inconvenient, then he started telling me why it was good I joined the team. I think his observations were exaggerations from intoxication.

‘Farr a furst year playar, yo’ve kept everyone on the toes.’ I remember that his speech got clearer as each sentence went on. ‘Ta sar wiith, wee thought you’d give up. Naver did. Proud of ya mate. Proud of ya.’ He then focused on Emma to say, ‘Rassed the bar, he haz. The fittyness of the whole team.’

If offered to buy him a drink. He accepted. Emma came with me to buy a drink for me.

I had noticed my body was dry, and in the human jumble around the bar I held her hand. Not knowing what to do with it I sort of massaged it, rubbing the back of her palm with my thumb. She didn’t throw anything in my face or point at me and yell obscenities. She let me hold her hand. We went back to our area near the group and talked about the wallpaper pattens and what kind of drinks we had. I don’t recall any of them tasting like strawberry.

At night’s end we languished behind the others in the walk leaving the bar. Near the bus stop, away from clear sight, we stopped. I held her hand and then her waist, she looked at me and I felt desire, I guess it was an urge. My back was to a wall. I looked at her eyes. There was a sparkle from the glitter of makeup around them, reflected from a lamp post’s light from across the road. I bend forward. I wanted to kiss her and she moved closer to me. We kissed each other, and on my part it was done badly.

We tried again, and then again.

She said, ‘I’m probably makings heaps of mistakes.’ So we had that in common, though I couldn’t judge what her mistakes were. If someone was watching us from an alleyway I think it would have looked like some guy trying to suck the mouth off some woman, mostly by using his tongue.

It was an odd experience, the kissing. Some cultures in the world don’t kiss. They snuggle foreheads and press cheeks. They hold each other tight and refrain from saliva mixing all together. To be honest, that doesn’t sound too bad either.

She was younger than me, this Emma. Maybe by ten years. She could have been twenty-five or older. I’m not sure. It should be okay to date someone ten years younger. Mr Knightly was 16 years older that Miss Woodhouse, and apparently women enjoy Jane Austin novels.

After we kissed she asked me how old I was. I thought about lying, saying that I’m 26, to drop my physical age closer to an emotional age. Then I considered that she would find out eventually. One day she might comment, “Hey, you’re really experienced at accounting,” and I’d reply, “Oh yeah, that’s because I’m over 30.”

I said, ‘I’m thirty-five.’

At first she didn’t reply. She kept holding onto me. It felt comfortable. Then she said she’d never meet anyone like me before. I think she meant it in a good way.

Her friend was in a queue for a bus. We heard her call as a bus drove down the street. We walked to join her. I asked for her phone number. She said we’d meet again through Matt. Then she got on the bus and the bus left.

In a few seconds I’ll quit this writing and leave the house. While Alison has not replied I will go to Gambon’s for lunch anyway. My stomach feels like it is lined with steel beams as a cleaning crew smoke, tip ash into my gut, and stand on wooden braces to scrub the lining walls with wire brushes, yet I still need to eat if I am to go out tonight.

Jason’s mystery date is tonight. With Emma on my mind I actually don’t want to go on another date… no, correction, I do want to go. I want to see Emma again. Hold her and her warmth. Taste strawberry. Kiss her while she’s sober. I want Jason’s arranged date to become Emma. By some quark of time and space have the Speed Dating be last night and have the event bring Emma to me.

I wish she had left me her phone number. I wish I had Matt’s number to call him so I could call her. I wish I had a better reason for all this than lust. At least that could be something to build on. Plenty of people would start relationships with lust, and many of those would bust, never to see wedding rings rust, for success romance is surely a must, or the desire may turn to dust.

Oh dear, Diary, best to leave now. Rhythmic couplings probably mean I’m still drunk. I’ll go to lunch, see my friend Alison, comeback here, and then go to Jason’s dinner. The conversation will be good practice.


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