Since it's almost Valentine's Day, I thought it might be fun to share some of that family history that has become legendary. This story begins way before I was even born. My grandma's first husband drowned when my mom was just a baby. So my grandma remarried and her widowed husband already had two children. These kids all grew up together but were not blood relatives (pay attention, that part is important!).
My aunt had three children, and the youngest was a couple of years older than me. He grew up in sunny California and we only saw him during the summer when he came by to visit. When we were young, he didn't have much to say to me. He hung out with my brother just older than me and I was the annoying little sister who always got in the way of their hunting and fishing and boy stuff. That all changed the summer I was 13.
It was 1978, and Ron showed up with his family like he did every summer. At 15, he looked a lot like Justin Bieber with his long wind-swept hair and dark eyes. I had only recently started paying attention to boys and he was definitely a boy. I had been working on perfecting my flirting techniques and I decided he was a good specimen to practice on. And you know what? He didn't seem to mind!
One afternoon, we walked together to the store where Grandma was working. I don't know how we managed to lose my older brother, but for once we were alone. Ron was telling me about California and the beaches and his friends. It all sounded like one big happy party all the time. We got to the store and shared a soda with Grandma. It was pretty easy for her to take a few minutes away from the furniture store and she almost always took her break between three and four o'clock.
When our drinks were gone, we waved goodbye and started walking the 3 or 4 blocks back to Grandma's house. On a whim, we decided to cut through what was affectionately called "Lover's Lane" even though it was still mid-afternoon. As we were walking, Ron suddenly took my hand and started swinging it. He helped me through the fence and we made our way through the weeds until we were along the ditch bank. This small stream was much slower than the one I fell into when I was little. We liked to wade in it and cross on the large stones without getting our shoes wet.
I took off my flip-flops (although we called them thongs then), and slipped my feet into the cool water. There was a slight breeze, so it wasn't terribly hot, but it was August in small-town Utah so taking a minute seemed perfectly normal. Ron threw himself down on the ground beside me. After a few minutes of chit chat, he asked me if I had ever been kissed. I had to admit that other than children's games, I had never really been kissed. That's when he started telling me about something I had never heard of before...French kissing. I guess it was all the rage in California and he suggested that he would be happy to teach me how to do it.
There didn't seem any harm in this little game, so I agreed. He put his arm around me and I turned my face to his. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was NOT his tongue down my throat! The kiss didn't last very long and as far as I remember, it was never repeated. We simply gathered up our shoes and walked the rest of the way to Grandma and Grandpa's house.
Strangely, things were not even awkward between us after that and when I'm asked about my first kiss, that is not the one I think of. But I still giggle every time I hear the phrase "kissin' cousins." Yeah, I had one of those once...