Yes, in spite of the general awkwardness of my younger years, I too enjoyed a couple of close brushes of the romantic kind with the opposite sex as a youth.
There was that occassion of my 12th birthday party. I remember it like it happened yesterday. I was wearing a black knee-length pencil skirt, a black t-shirt topped off with an olive green jacket that had tassels sprouting out from both sides of the waist and black ankle boots. My mom had pulled my hair into a sideways ponytail that was secured with a hot pink scrunchy. I must have looked odd back then in 1991 but, clearly, I was fashion forward.
As with all of my (legendary) birthday parties, this one had games that were supervised by my brothers--who were 19 and 17 and much cooler than me--and their friends. Most of my guests were girls; while some of them had been forced to bring along their much younger brothers, the number of boys in attendance who were close to me in age was two. For the sake of anonymity, let's call them Tom and Joe.
So, Tom and Joe happened to be the only two boys who sat in the circle during our game of hot potato. For those of you who aren't familiar with this game, a cushion, or any lightweight object, is passed from person to person while someone mans a radio. The person who's holding the potato when the music stops is not only left feeling like an asshole but has to pick out a random dare from a container full of dares scribbled on folded up paper scraps. It can potentially spell WORST NIGHTMARE for a kid at a party. Really.
Of course, in all of their teen wisdom, my brothers and their friends included a "give the birthday girl a hug" dare, probably secretly wishing that one of the two boys, who seemed to be well-entrenched in their "Ewwwww, girls are gross and have the cooties" ways, got stuck with said dare. The pre-teeny bopper gods were on duty that evening because Joe, who I didn't know very well, got stuck with that dare first. He twisted his face into the picture of disgust; he dry-heaved and refused to get up from his spot on the floor, while I giggled and wrinkled my nose with my friends, safe on my side of the circle. The "Ew-I-so-don't-want-to-hug-you" shenanigans went on for a good 15 minutes or so before Joe and I pulled the downing- disgustingly-bitter-cough-medicine-while-pinching-your-nose equivalent of a hug.
Since the teeny-bopper gods were fully awake and up to no good that night, a very quiet and demure friend of mine confessed later to accidently returning the "hug the birthday girl" dare to the cup of dares (surely, the moments leading up to the hug left the poor child momentarily hot, bothered and confused)and who got that particular dare during the next round of hot potato but Tom, the other boy at the party. I was buddies with Tom, had known him for years and, not wanting to waste any time with dramatics, we just hugged amidst the juvenile "ooooh"s and "aaah"s and "Tom and Sabila sitting in a tree" chants. Whatever.
Shortly following the game, however, there was a moment that would make any writer of the pre-teeny bopper genre proud. My friends and I were stepping out into my balcony when Tom suddenly emerged from the shadows, nearly running into me in the doorway. He asked to speak to me alone. My friends gave me sly looks as they tripped away, already dissolving into giggles. I stood with Tom outside on the balcony. He was scuffing the toe of his sneaker on the ground. His hands were buried in his pockets and he couldn't meet my eyes. So, we stood there for a while, rather awkward in our silence, until I asked him what he wanted to talk to me about.
"That hug back there," he started, still unable to look at me.
"Yah..." I said, not knowing whether or not I wanted to encourage his weirdness.
"It wasn't that bad," he said, shrugging.
Now, I probably should have closed my eyes and went in for that first kiss. But, alas, I enjoyed the horror and classics (especially the horror classics) reads much more than I did those pesky pre-teeny bopper books, so, instead of puckering up, I said, "Oh," and then after a very long pause asked, "Is that all?" to which this poor kid who'd very clearly put his heart--or his raging hormones, but what's the difference, really--on the line said, "Yah," and I walked back into the party leaving him to scuff the toe of his sneaker alone.
We never talked about that moment again. And then he moved away.
Surely, the gods pulled out their hair that night and sure, I kind of regretted the missed opportunity shortly thereafter but knowing that I was wearing a cute outfit at the time of the kiss that never was mostly makes me not regret it so much.