When I was 13, the most mortifying thing happened…
It was December, the final day before the holiday break. To celebrate the occasion, the last class period was dedicated to a winter dance, a particularly low-budget affair, with a few errant, floor-grazing balloons and a lone bag of Doritos emptied into a punch bowl. Because this dance took place during the day, the windows of the gymnasium were covered with poster board to block out the light, lending the whole scene a horror movie vibe.
Nevertheless, I was excited. I wore my very favorite dress, a maroon velvet number from the dELIA*s catalog, paired with black platform Mary Janes. My “boyfriend” and I, whose relationship until that point was based on title alone, danced to the theme song from Titanic, awkwardly swaying to and fro under the watchful eye of our math teacher. When the final bell rang and we were dismissed, he walked me down the school’s front steps, over to the curb where the school buses idled, a line of massive yellow caterpillars waiting to drive us home.
I had never kissed anyone at this point, though most of my friends had, along with seemingly every character from the books and movies I loved. So while it wasn’t the last thing on my mind, I certainly did not expect my in-title-only boyfriend to plant one on me before I ascended the school bus steps. But that is what happened.
Meanwhile, from her elevated perch, my bus driver had a bird’s-eye view of the whole thing, and she was not amused. The moment this boy made contact with my face, the driver sat on the horn — a blaring panic button I can still hear to this day. The din lasted long enough to a) jolt me out of my skin, b) send my boyfriend running, and c) capture the attention of every human being within a one-mile radius.
And that is the story of my first kiss.
In a way, it was only fitting. In those days, squarely on the cusp of teenager-hood, my favorite thing was to read the “most embarrassing moments” columns in teen magazines. I wasn’t yet allowed to buy them, so whenever I could get my hands on a copy of YM or Teen, flipping to those confessionals gave me the biggest thrill. There was always a story about someone getting their period — at the prom, wearing a white skirt, at the prom while wearing a white skirt — or discovering the many things that can go wrong while kissing with braces.
What is it about embarrassing stories that so endears us to one another? They’re welcome reminders of the sillier side of our humanity, reassurances that, regardless of age or experience, feeling awkward is refreshingly universal. In the moment, you may feel like the only person to ever have felt that way, but somehow, on some level, you are never alone.
What’s your most embarrassing moment? Please tell us!
P.S. Awkward dating stories and the five words that changed my relationship.
(Photo by Erin Drago/Stocksy.)