My First Grown Up Kiss Was With A Stranger On A Plane
Just to be clear, the girl in the photo is not me. Nor has it ever been me.
You can blame Roz Warren for this peek into my checkered past. Her article about sex on a plane nudged an old memory of mine. And what better way to lure you into my own story than with a hot girl promising hot sex.
Now, I’m not going to talk about old lady sex here. Thank the heavens, you’re saying. Unless you’ve got a kink for old lady sex.
So what’s up with Roz Warren’s story? I’m not a member of the mile-high club. Other clubs maybe, but I’m down with Roz with not getting it on up in the air. I like being grounded. If you know what I mean.
See, I’m trying to get my mojo back. Not as a sex goddess. I think those days are in my rearview mirror (but who knows, says the incurable optimist). As a writer who got her productivity stuck in the gears of the shelter-in-place.
I’m trying to get back to my goal of writing every day.
All good, except if I write what’s on my mind, it’s all doom and gloom. Fitting, of course, considering the headlines. However, since I’m not a political or social sciences expert, I give up after I realize that, instead of producing content of substance, I’ve just spent hours producing 2k words venting my feelings. And you all can do that on your own without my input.
I had resigned myself to the loss of my writing career when Roz’s article appeared. I’d read it last year when ideas flowed like water California didn’t need back then for wildfires. Whoops, there I go again with a deep dive into our dark times. But when I read it today, it sparked a memory.
Her piece about sex in the sky took me back to my first kiss.
At least, my first grown-up kiss that opened the door to all the confusion and chaos my love life has produced in the intervening years.
So, I thought, what better way to charge up my lagging writing career than a tale about sex. After all, that’s what got me started on Medium.
Back in 1953, when the world was new, I graduated from the eighth grade in the Bronx. My parents marked the occasion with the gift of a plane ticket to visit my brother and his family in paradise. What we called California back then.
I don’t have enough space to describe the wonder that was the Golden State in the fifties. It was the place where dreams came true. Where a Hollywood mogul would discover a girl sipping a chocolate malt at a soda fountain and turn her into a movie star.
And I was going there on my very first plane ride. To say I was the envy of my friends, well, I bragged so much about that trip, by the time I took off, no one would speak to me.
Jack was married to his dark-eyed beauty, Nancy, and they had an 18-month old son. I’m not sure how gleeful they were to hear I would arrive on their doorstep for the summer, but I was ecstatic.
At fourteen years old, such was my virginal state of my body and mind that my parents bought a ticket with the proviso that I travel under the protection of the stewardess. My sister and mother outfitted me with a suitably virginal wardrobe.
It would take a series of articles to describe how that summer changed my life.
I was no stranger to beautiful, fashionable women. My older sister and cousins had been models and buyers. The rag trade, as the fashion business is often called, seemed to be in our family’s DNA.
My sister-in-law was no different, but where my sister refused a lucrative print modeling contract because she’d have to appear in a bathing suit in the 1940s, my sister-in-law shocked me to my little girl cotton panties by discussing her sex life.
I’d been raised by a family of women––mother, aunts, older sister, cousins, and nuns who had me believing that none of the females in my universe, even those who had produced many children, had ever had sex.
Soon after my arrival in the Bay Area, though, Nancy chucked my girlish wardrobe and took me on a shopping trip to San Francisco’s I.Magnin’s. She dressed me in a chic, grown-up dress that showed off my budding curves, bought me serious dark lipstick, and showed me how to walk like a model.
And to top it all off, she taught me to smoke.
When it was time to make my reservation to return home to the Bronx, I asked if she was going to put me in the care of the stewardess.
She gave me a side-eye and that was the end of that.
So, I can blame my forward-thinking sister-in-law for my introduction to sex. Such as it was on my cramped flight back home.
The Korean war was winding down, and the flight from San Francisco to points east (no such thing as non-stop flights) was filled with returning soldiers. I lucked into a window seat and had huddled up to watch the world below fly by when a hunk of a guy buckled up next to me, no disapproving stewardess eyes in sight.
I may have looked older than my newly-minted fourteen years in my sexy lipstick and slinky top, but underneath I was as shy and innocent as the day I’d left the Bronx. Well, maybe not quite. Nancy had introduced me to a few words that I’d had to look up in their big Websters when they weren’t looking.
Was I shocked to discover the meaning of homosexual? Do first-generation Irish lasses blush bright red?
So, when this guy started chatting me up, I’m sure my giggles gave me away. Before the captain announced the great Salt Lake was on the left, he had his arm around my shoulder. By the time we had finished our first meal, he was whispering in my ear.
Looking back on it, I looked like such a mark. He saw me coming, of course. Did he know how young I was? Did he ask my age? Did I fool him with my attempts to mimic my sister-in-law’s sophistication?
The first kiss landed about the Great Divide. Eyes wide open, mouth firmly closed on my part. Shocked to my garter belt it had happened at all.
It was one part embarrassment that the stewardess would see us, one part delight that I had something to tell my friends, one part horror if my mother ever found out.
But an over-arching relief that it had finally happened. My first kiss, and a grown-up one at that. Or, what I thought was grown up.
It was hardly more passionate than the goodnight kisses I gave my father. I wasn’t even sure if I even liked him that much, but I sure liked the attention at the time.
When I think back on that first attempt, I have to say, I feel sorry for the guy. He was barely twenty with a few years in a war zone under his belt. He finally gets his hands on a real girl and they land on me?
What rotten star was he born under?
He debarked the plane at the first stop. Kansas, I think. He asked for my phone number and address and gave me his. I was such a rube, I couldn’t figure out that I should give him a made-up number.
When I landed in New York, my whole family greeted me when I walked down the steps and across the tarmac. This was the old days, remember.
I thought their shocked faces spoke to my new California look. Later, my sister said I’d plastered so much lipstick on my face, I looked like a clown.
But I had other fish to fry. Les said he’d call me. How was I going to explain him to my family? I hadn’t even had a first date yet.
When my friends gathered to hang out, we were always chaperoned with parents. My seatmate on the last leg of my trip home was a kindly grandmother who told my family what a nice young lady I’d been.
So maybe I’d gotten away with something.
But every time the phone rang, my nerves thrummed with anxiety. Suppose it was him?
He said he’d call. I believed him. How was I going to explain this strange man to my parents?
Weeks went by. I’d stuck the slip of paper with his name and address under my mattress.
I agonized over whether I should write to him. What was my duty, my obligation? What did I owe him for letting him kiss me? I had so much anxiety, I could barely breathe.
My passive nature took over. I did nothing.
I smoked on the sly, slipped homosexual into conversations with my friends. Got better at wearing my new shade of lipstick.
Eventually, I stopped fretting about getting a call from my cross-country lover. I was part relieved and part disappointed.
I would have liked the opportunity to tell him not to call me again.
Four years later, I made another trip to California, this time to stay. On my first day in college, I met another good-looking guy. He also had just returned from Korea. This time, I opened up to him completely. He returned my gift with my first marriage and our daughter.
What did I learn from my liaisons with men in uniform? I’m 81-years old now, and I’m still a sucker for a good-looking guy.
I’m an editor and writer on Medium with Top Writer status. I’m also an editor for the publication, Rogues Gallery. I’ve published 55 titles on Amazon and edit for private clients. If you’d like to hire me as your editor for fiction, non-fiction, or business writing, please contact me here. If you’d like to read more of my work on Medium, click here to sign up for my newsletter. Thank you for reading.