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Jenny Kissed Me
If you asked me to, I could tell you the exact moment I realized I was gay. I could tell you all the moments in my past where I should have realized I was gay, like when I was two, and asked Santa for the newest Tonka truck over Barbie. But none of that really matters, since realizing you’re gay and being gay are two very different things. And this isn’t one of those angst-ridden “coming of age and coming to terms with my sexuality” stories, with the homophobic parents, and I, Maggie Evans, cast as the misunderstood teen who urges her parents to accept her lesbianism into their lives… No, this isn’t one of those types of stories. In fact, this story isn’t even really about me. It’s really about Jenny.
Now, Jenny isn’t really her name. In case this ever gets published and I end up the next Anne Frank or something, I had to censor it, so for all intents and purposes, Jenny is her name. I met Jenny on January 2, 2007 when I moved from Texas to New Hampshire, and she was just the girl who sat at the seat two desks over who asked to borrow a pencil on January 4th. Not that I’m keeping track or anything.
We didn’t really talk until that summer when Jenny invited me and a few other girls over for a pool party. We were up in her bedroom, changing from jeans and tank tops into bathing suits, and I had to make an effort not to stare as my classmates revealed their budding breasts from the confines of their training bras in favor of bikinis. I sat by the pool, feet dangling in the water, feeling awkward as the only girl in a one piece. Jenny swam up beside my feet.
“Are you having fun?”
“Why don’t you come in? The pool is heated.”
“I don’t want to get wet.”
She splashed me. “Please?”
“Have it your way. There’s food on the porch.”
And she swam away.
Jenny felt bad that I “wasn’t having fun” at her pool party, so she invited me for a sleepover. It was just her and me, eating chips in her basement, and I was painting her toenails when she suddenly said, “Have you ever seen an R rated movie?”
“Once. It was with my mom though. And she fast-forwarded through parts.”
“You’re such a prude! Live a little!” She put When Harry Met Sally into the DVD player, and we watched.
“I want a boyfriend,” she said.
“Aren’t you a little young?”
“I’m almost fourteen. I’m going to grow up an old maid if I don’t get a boyfriend soon. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone to make out with?”
I must have made a face, because she quickly added, “He could even hold your bags when you go shopping!”
Hours later, we snuggled in her bed, her warm body pressed flush against mine. I could feel the press of her breasts against my back. My heart started racing.
“We’re going to get you a boyfriend too, Maggie.”
“I don’t really want one.”
“Tell you what. If we’re both single at sixteen, I’ll kiss you. That way, you’ll at least have had your first kiss. Okay?”
I moved out her embrace, it was too warm. She didn’t stop me.
“Okay.” I wasn’t sure if she was kidding or not.
Eighth grade happened, and I was the first of the two of us to have a boyfriend. His name was Ben, and he was this awkward, slightly pudgy kid with glasses. He asked me to dance at one of those middle school dances, and I didn’t have the heart to turn him down. Well, believe it or not, he began to grow on me, and months later he still hadn’t asked me out, so I took the initiative. So the summer before high school, I had a boyfriend. We went out to lunch a few times, and I was too afraid to eat, and he ate too much, most of his food ending up on his face. Our first kiss was in the backseat of his mother’s car when she ran into the grocery store after picking us up from the movie theatre. I sat beside him on the ride back to my house, heart pounding, and feeling wrong in so many indescribable ways.
Jenny slept over not long after, trying on my shirts and lounging on my bed, taking pictures of herself with an old camera. I flopped down next to her, and suddenly, I wanted to kiss her. The impulse scared me, and I excused myself. I hid in the bathroom and looked in the mirror, wondering what the h*ll was wrong with me.
I broke up with Ben a week after, right before Valentine’s Day. He cried, and asked why. I told him it was because I didn’t feel the same way about him as he did me. In truth, it was because I knew I was at least bisexual. Well, bi then, gay later.
I told only a few close friends, and my mom, who sympathized with my “stage.” Eventually, I became comfortable enough my sexuality to tell my brother, who told me I was more than welcome to borrow his porn. My dad sat me down and told me about every gay person he’d ever met in an effort to make me more comfortable. When my family seemed to accept me, I asked if they would join a nearby PFLAG to become more involved in the local gay community. Both declined, saying that they had showed their support and why was I so instant on them joining a support group? “You’re the one who can’t stop talking about being gay, Margaret,” my mother said. “If you’re so comfortable with yourself, why do you keep talking about it? You seem like the one who needs the support group.”
I never told her how much her decision not to attend even one PFLAG meeting hurt.
I didn’t see much of Jenny at school. We chatted a bit freshman year, but we swam with different social circles, and a week before sophomore year was supposed to begin, she Facebooked me, saying that our school’s lack of a girls lacrosse team prompted her decision to attend some Catholic boarding school. “I’ll still visit, Maggie!” she wrote. “Don’t forget: sixteen!” It had been years, and I still couldn’t tell if she was kidding or not. But I wished she’d had the decency to at least call.
She came to visit a few times, but never once to exclusively to see me. I wasn’t surprised; after all, we were close, but not tight. She came back from school on April 17th 2010, for Grace Addis’ Sweet Sixteen. Grace looked beautiful in a ball gown and tiara, and Jenny looked sexy in a leopard printed mini-dress. She hugged me tightly.
“Maggie! I’ve missed you so much, babe!”
She towered over me in five-inch heels, so I looked up at her. “You look great, Jen. How’s school been?”
“Great! I’m not in all those AP classes like you and Gracie are, but lacrosse is keeping me occupied. So how are you? How’s everyone been without me?”
We made small talk and everything felt normal again. “I’m sorry I missed your sixteenth birthday,” Jenny said. “I have a present for you and everything. I’ll mail it to you before I leave for school.”
“You didn’t have to get me anything,” I protested, but I was flattered that she remembered. The music the DJ was playing changed from club music, to a much slower waltz. Jenny smiled at me. “No one’s in the photo booth, you know.”
“So people make out in photo booths, right? I see it in all the movies.”
My heart began to thud. “What?”
“Mags, we’re both sixteen. I promised you a kiss, didn’t I?”
I nodded, and she grabbed my hand, pulling me into the photo booth. It was one of the small ones you find at Coney Island, the kind that takes four ridiculously small pictures. Jenny pressed the “start” button on the screen and looked at me. “Smile for the first one.”
I looked into the camera and grinned. The camera flashed, and seconds later the picture appeared on the screen, both of us smiling and happy.
“Make a heart for the second?” Jenny suggested. I nodded, and we each held one hand in the shape of a “C” that when pressed together somewhat resembled a heart.
Jenny looked at the picture and smirked. “Tongues out next, don’t you think?”
“Sure.” I stuck out my tongue, and looked over at to make sure Jenny was doing the same. The camera flashed, and the screen showed us both: me with my mouth open so wide you could practically see down my throat, and Jenny, with pained look in her eyes, like she knew the moment the camera flashed that a picture of her with her tongue out wouldn’t look flattering.
“Do you wanna kiss for the last one? For sixteen?”
“Okay.” The screen began a countdown from three. I prepared myself for a peck on the cheek. Jenny grabbed my chin, turning my face toward hers. I puckered my lips, and she opened hers, warmth surrounding my bottom lip. I opened my eyes in surprise and saw hers were closed. The camera flashed, and I pulled away. Jenny grinned, and my heart thudded at the sight of my lipstick on her teeth.
“I thought you were kidding,” I mumbled. Jenny shook her head and pulled aside the photo booth curtain.
“Nah.” Jenny picked it up the pictures from the slot and looked at them. “Not bad. Here, you want it?”
“Sure.” I studied the pictures, looking longingly at the last one. My lips still tingled where Jenny kissed me. I only heard blood rushing in my ears, and didn’t notice Jenny walking over to chat with Grace’s boyfriend.
My parents picked me up at 11:08 PM that night. Jenny was still inside. I carefully put the pictures in my purse, and got into the car.
“How was the party?” my mother asked.
“They had those little hot dogs, y’know, the ones in the blanket, and…” I babbled. I talked about nothing for the whole ride home, and from my mother’s silence and appropriate “um-hms,” I knew that she wasn’t really listening. I kept talking because I knew if I didn’t, I’d blurt out, “Jenny kissed me!” and that was the last thing I wanted my mother to know.
It’s been over a year, but I knew that if I didn’t write this down, I’d tell someone, and no one needs to know, no one except Jenny and me that is. I have a girlfriend now, Alice, the ginger I met at band camp. Maybe I’m writing all this now because I feel guilty about what happened, even though I didn’t even know Alice then, but I know her now, and I never once told her about Jenny. And Jenny… She’ll deny that night ever happened, if you happen to figure out who she is and ask. But I have the photographic evidence, and I know what happened in that Coney Island photo booth on the night of April 17th, 2010. I know that Jenny kissed me, and that’s all that matters.