I have lost most of the memories of my youth. Some forgotten memories will remain forgotten. Some might be recalled or triggered by an event in the present moment, and then there are those memories which will remain imbedded forever in my mind.
The first and only time I kissed Debbie Johnson. We were fifteen years old and I had invited her to see West Side Story on a Sunday afternoon. Tony and Maria were in love and so was I but I knew Debbie had a few admirers. My good friend Donald was one of them. During the love scene we turned our heads facing one another, our faces moved closer and we kissed. I had waited three years for that moment. After the kiss, we continued watching the movie. Nothing had changed except the my heart was still beating as fast as it could. Mrs Johnson picked us up after the movie. I went home and that was it.
The next day at school I could not wait to tell Donald that Debbie and I kissed at the movies. He did not believe me. So I boldly said he should ask Debbie then for confirmation. We both waited outside her second period English class for the bell to ring. When Debbie came out the door and saw us, I proudly said, “Donald does not believe we kissed in the movies yesterday. She looked at me with a face of anger I had not seen from her before and said to Donald, “No, we did not,” and walked away. As high as my heart was the day before, it immediately sinked to a new depth. Donald just laughed and said, “I knew you were lying.”
My mother could always read me like a book and that evening she knew something was wrong. I told her the series of events.. The hardest part of the story was that I told the truth, but it was two against one. Today, that is still my greatest fear. That I might be falsely accused when I am telling the absolutely truth. As a young Black man growing up in America, it was a common chain of events for Black men to be arrested and placed into confinement when they were innocent. The color of our skin automatically made us guilty. Just read the news. How many Black men today have been released from prisons after spending 20 or 30 years of their lives in confinement for crimes they did not commit? Even the young Muslim man who helped save a half dozen lives in the Paris terrorist attack was first handcuffed and placed face down on the ground before being released to assist the police. Why did this happen? Because of the color of his skin. He was first seen as an enemy before he was seen as a hero.
My mom just listened, occasionally nodding her head. Then she finally spoke. “You know you can’t change people over night. As long as you know you are telling the truth, that is what really matters, but tell me,” she continued. “Did you learn any thing else from you experience with Donald and Debbie?”
“Yes mom,” I said. “Never kiss and tell.” I haven’t since.