Tommy and I both wore 8-year old bodies the first time we kissed. I still remember, more than anything, the smell of kimchi on his breath. It stunk from afar – the rotten, spicy Korean cabbage dish that it was – and it stunk even more when it wafted in my face close up. Yet first kisses are always the greatest kisses because they linger on, much like kimchi, and the anticipation and preparation leading up to their making is sometimes methodical in delivery and full of expectation.
The fact that we planned this kiss, because neither of us had ever experienced one, surely was the reason it became a covert operation. We were horrified of the thought of any adult – or anyone else for that matter – seeing us touch lips, even in the public place called my back yard. We devised instead a plan to conceal the evidence, to canopy it so to speak, to raise a tent in the green grass using sticks, string, and an old pink and white checkered blanket that was almost too worn and thin to be opaque anymore.
The tent was open at both ends like the old pup style tent that had now become make-shifted and created by the minds of children, loose and imperfect, nearly formless, yet good enough to do the trick. Tommy and I separately entered from each end of the kissing tent, with our feet sticking out as the only evidence that included inferences to the deed. There within the magical confines of the tent walls shielding us from the peering eyes of the world, our faces glided together, and our small, never-more innocent lips touched ever so lightly in a single, unified expression of our simplistic desires. Tommy was the best kimchi I ever tasted.