I don’t remember what day it even was. It was during the week. It was before cell phones. It was when me and my friends used to call each other at work, during business hours, to make plans. Not all my friends even had email. It was 1997. My phone on my desk at the software company rang, and caller ID wasn’t even really a thing either. All I could tell was that the call was coming from somewhere outside the walls. The call is coming from outside the house! Run!

It was my new friend Todd. He and I had met at one of the various coffee houses in Providence, Rhode Island. He was in this band that had changed its name a few times. It was Roadside Prophets Area 51, then it was Mad Hatters, then it became 51 Mad Prophets. Thought it wasn’t until the last name change that I’d realized they weren’t originally called Roadside Profits. I was a business major in college, when I met the guys in the band, surely you can understand why I misunderstood the name. At some point Todd had joined the band, I barely noticed if I'm being honest about it. I had a massive crush on another guy in the band. I opened up for them on occasion, I sang back up on a few of their songs too.

“How’s your day going?” he asked. I groaned and said I was stressed out.

“You should come to Vermont, it’s so relaxing here,” he replied. He had left Rhode Island to go back to his home in Vermont for the summer. We chatted for a bit and then I had to get back to work. My job back then was to deal with everyone else’s bullshit, as well as coordinate the classes for the customers who had bought the software and needed to learn how to use it. The day ground on. I called him back.

“Does that offer to come to Vermont still stand?” I asked.

This phone call has been a source of controversy between me and Todd over the last 21 years. He says that I invited myself to his parents’ house that weekend. I maintain that I was invited because he did say “You should come to Vermont.” He says that’s just something one says, I still think it was an invitation.

I drove up there on Friday night. It was approximately 4 hours from where I lived just north of Boston. I pulled in well after dark. We sat up talking, we made a plan to go to Lake Bomoseen on his parents’ boat so he could teach me to water ski. It was me, Todd and his mom.

The boat needed repair before we could take it to the lake, I helped where I could. Then he hooked it up to the truck and we towed it to the lake. By then I was starting to have more-than-friends feelings for him. But was it just a crush? Was it just the thrill of pursuing someone? I donned my sunglasses and watched him drive, he caught me watching and I claimed I was looking at something out his window. Busted.

I am a terrible water skier. I couldn’t get onto the skis very well, and when I did the bar thingy I had to hold hurt my hands so badly I couldn’t grip it and I dropped it. We cruised the lake instead, we swam, it was a perfect sunny June day. I haven’t attempted it since then. But I watched him ski. The wind rished through his reddish brown hair that caught the sun. I remember thinking he’d looked like an ad for Hair Club for Men skiing across the wake with his hair flowing atop his head.

We sat out on the deck that night to look at the stars and talk late into the night. This wasn’t actually our first date. Our first date had happened some time in May, before he’d moved back to Vermont. He didn’t try to kiss me on our first date, and we both slept on his floor of his apartment because nobody wanted to take the bed and force the other onto the floor, so we both took the floor. But we didn’t even kiss when I left in the morning either. By the time I was on his parents’ deck star gazing with him we still hadn’t kissed at all. Should I make the first move? I wanted to propel the situation forward, but did he want that? Ugh. We were talking. Should I shouldn’t I should I shouldn’t I swung back and forth in my brain like some sort of mental tennis match.

I figured I didn’t have to kiss him on the mouth. Maybe the cheek, the forehead, the hand? The hand? What am I? Some dude in Shakespearean times? Kissing on the hand was officially out. I don’t remember if I said anything. I think I did say something not at all cryptic about something I wanted to do. So I kissed him on the forehead and immediately flopped back into my own chair. There. Over with. Now what?

Sunday rolled around, I’d have to leave to drive home. We were in the downstairs of his parents house, back when they still had the blue couch with the red flowers. We were on the love seat. And we went for it. The kiss. At the time I had no idea how significant this kiss would be. But I still remember so many details of it. I remember flicking my tongue against the back of his front teeth and nibbling on his bottom lip. And then shortly after I got back into my Jeep Cherokee and drove home.

I had no idea at that time that this would be the last time I would ever experience a first kiss with anyone. It was 21 years ago today.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.