My bartender in this little shithole tavern just gained another 2.5 % on his tip. He still has a way to go before he reaches the Large Man goal of 20%, but he informs me that he has two brand new cases of Kona Brewing Company’s Fire Rock Pale Ale on ice in the cook’s prep room. I think this guy’s gonna be OK, but we’ll see.
Here comes the first sip. Oh my…that’s good.
That first sip of a great beer is the best. There are no bad sips, but that first sip of a new beer is like a first kiss. It’s that very intimate, sorta fragile, getting to know you point where the relationship – good or bad – is going to pick a direction.
The good thing about beer is that you can have a first sip of a new beer every day if you really want. But if you’re a responsible and caring human being, first kisses don’t happen every day. I can describe the hoppy bite, and rich texture of a great micro-brew, but how do you describe that first kiss?
I would love the opportunity to have a conversation with a girl named Debbie (No last names here). She could give me some clarity on this subject. She went to junior high with me, I think one year younger. We went to a party in 7th grade at a girl named Dena’s house. About 10 of us were in attendance at this invitation only gathering. We put on Grand Funk Railroad’s Red album. Hastily, a 16oz glass Pepsi bottle (the clear one with the swirled body) emptied itself into a wax-coated paper cup. The bottle was so much more valuable empty than it had ever been full. It hit the green shag carpet in the middle of a circle of 13 and 14-year-old kids, I gave it a spin, it pointed at Debbie, and those next 15 seconds changed my life forever. This was my first, first kiss.
The early teen awkwardness and total fear of this life changing moment would be pushed aside by my desire to have the experience. The bottle pointed exactly in the direction I wanted, the entire world turned with that hunk of twisted glass. My chest heaved as my heart pounded; my mouth was as dry as a bag of kitty litter, palms sweaty… I was terrified, but I was unable to back down. I really wanted; I really needed; to be good at this kissing thing. The girls talked about this stuff a lot. It was more important than good grades…money…even football. This was my life’s most significant moment in time. Everything that had ever happened to me before this was meaningless. Everything after this would be slightly dulled by the magic that would be this first kiss. I was sure of these things.
She stretched across the circle, I did the same, and over top of that empty Pepsi bottle our lips met, our mouths opened, and my heart soared. I think there were fireworks, rainbows, and a marching band…but those details are little less clear because my mind and my soul briefly abandoned me. My first real kiss. We pulled away, and I saw her smile. That’s better than throwing up I thought.
Debbie wore black rimmed, round glasses in front of a pair of sweet, beautiful, light brown eyes that were enlarged by her thick lenses. By anyone’s standards, even with the substantial glasses, Debbie was a pretty girl. After that kiss, in my mind she was a goddess. After that kiss, I was ready to spend the rest of my life with her, I guess in some ways I have. She is a supernatural being to this day. If I let my mind go, I can still smell her, I can still feel her in my arms, and taste her lips on mine. I think that’s nice.
“Another Fire Rock please. You’re doing a good job dude, but when you see the bottle level below one inch, YOU need to ask.”
Poor bartending is inexcusable. OK, we’re looking at 15%…shameful. I’m just sayin.
Time moves on, so slowly when you’re in that moment at 13 years old. Looking back, it was the blink of an eye. I know everybody feels different about their formative years. I wish I had known in those moments how fondly I would look back on that time – those experiences. If I knew then, what know now, I would have gone much slower.
I’m lucky; because I liked kissing girls so much, the activity became my first hobby. I kissed quite a few. I loved every single kiss. I loved every single girl, and I still do. There is something about holding a girl in your arms, lightly brushing her hair to the side of her face and slowly leaning into a kiss. Feeling her breath on your breath, her body against yours, feeling both your hearts beating…POUNDING against each other. There are few moments more special.
I’m married now; first kisses are harder to create. First kiss after a trip…to Louisville…first kiss after a flight delay in Charlotte…on US Air. I’ll use any “first” scenario I can. I try to recapture that first kiss passion, but it’s different. Sometimes it’s better, kissing someone you know you love certainly has its merits. When you believe they love you, and you feel it in their kiss, that’s magic. That doesn’t happen on a first kiss. It can’t.
What the hell do I know! I just like to kiss.
Kisses eventually lead to more grown up experiences – those are great too… but the innocence of that first kiss is so special. That first kiss is great every time. Even when they are bad they are great, because you know. You learn something. Everything that has led up to that point is seen at a new angle, in a new light, or a different color after that first kiss. Whether it’s been several dates, a goodnight kiss after a first date or a chance encounter…everything takes on a different hue after that kiss. After a first kiss, you never look at that person the same way again.
It’s closing time, I need to find my bartender so I can lecture him on why he’s only getting 13.7%.
Go kiss somebody.
The Large Man