A one-week romance at camp is the equivalent to a one-month relationship outside of it. You eat all of your meals in the same room and are thrown together with the significant other throughout the day, even when it’s not expected. Co-ed soccer, rainy day art class, when the boys are on the way to the lake and the girls are on the way to the pool. Almost everyone is involved in a summer romance at camp, even if it’s only a romance in your head. If there is someone you’ve got your eye on, all of your friends know it. They shift and maneuver just so you’re seated beside that special someone at the campfire. Cruiser and I were not a figment of my imagination. I had proof. He asked me if I would go out on a date with him. We were both ten and in camp. Neither of us had older siblings. We held hands and walked around the lake twice on our “date.” Finally, we ended up near the horse stables, behind the lake. There was an enormous rock there, nestled between some bushes that everyone in the know referred to as “Make-Out-Rock.” Cruiser and I hoisted ourselves onto it and sat quietly staring at our shoes. Finally he said, “Do you want to run the bases?” I knew exactly what he was talking about, but I was mortified. I was not nervous or embarrassed about making out at all. I was disgusted at how corny he sounded. I remember almost flinching like he had just told a flat joke. Without my saying a word, he scooted off the rock, picked a small stick off the ground, and began to swing it through the air. “Strike one!” He said quickly as he waved the branch. “Strike two!” He continued. My god, he was serious! “Uh oh, strike three, you know what that means. I’ve got to take my base.” Obviously Cruiser was so nervous that he was confusing strikes with balls.
“Uh, no.” I said as I peered at him from atop the rock. “It means you’re out.” I was feeling satisfied.
“Oh, yeah.” He mumbled. “Well, it’s your turn now.” He handed me the stick.
“What, you mean you want me to actually swing it?”
“Yeah, it’s your turn.”
I felt incredibly stupid swinging the branch in the air counting imaginary balls. But, I wanted to kiss. I declared, “Ball four.”
Cruiser climbed back onto the rock and said, “Okay, first base.” Then it happened. I don’t remember if I closed my eyes or not, but I do recall that we weren’t touching when it happened. Cruiser and I opened our mouths and flicked our tongues. Hot saliva. I’m sure our lips must have been touching, but that’s all. It was almost as fast as a snap, and all I could think was “mush.” I think I made a face like I just smelled milk that had gone sour.
“Do you want to do it again?”
“No. No.” I said quickly shaking my head rigidly.
Then an older boy walked by and said, “Hey Cruiser, have you cruised up her shirt yet?”
That was my first and last kiss for a long time.