I shared the evening’s events with a friend who only a year before had landed in the sights of an older girl. His predator also was a smoker, but he had managed to get past that and on to things I had seen only in… well, I had seen them. In spite of his titillating recitation of events, I didn’t feel right about the Dawn situation.
For our rehearsal that night, Dawn picked me up at my house and drove us to Sandy Beach. It was a small section of shoreline at a large local lake, where officials thought hauling in truck loads of sand would give Arkansans a beach without several hours of driving or flying. It brought some swimmers, but also an abundance of house cats convinced they had reached litterbox nirvana.
Does she want to take a moonlit stroll on the fake beach?
I hoped not, because the bank sign we passed on the way there read 35 degrees. Plus, and admittedly this was just a guess, cat turds between my toes would be a big turn-off. Nevertheless, my buddy’s little talk had revitalized my interest. Maybe there was something to the older girl approach.
Dawn parked the Pacer in a small lot well short of the sand. It was dark, and we were the only people in sight. Dawn unwrapped a piece of Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum and started chewing.
“Since it’s cold out, we can just read through it here in the car,” Dawn said, smacking noisily as she handed me a copy of the script.
“Okay.” I hoped the gum would help.
We read. We kissed. And kissed. And kissed.
I almost retched. I remembered the air freshener commercial wherein a family’s house smells like fish, so the mother sprays some freshener. “Now it smells like fish and roses,” the little girl quips.
Now it tastes like mint and ashes. I thought of the scented soaking sprinkles the custodians put on puke in elementary school. Any time that minty smell wafted down the hall, we all knew somebody had hurled. I was not sure I could ever eat anything spearmint again without recalling this horrible kiss.
I opened my eyes long enough to reach up and pull some of her hair from between our faces. It was my first time seeing her with her eyes closed. She looked sweet and innocent, but her mouth belied that sentiment. She was a smoking seductress, and not in a good way. We broke the kiss after a few minutes of closed-mouthed tongue wrestling.
The windows fogged so heavily that condensation drops trickled. I put my arm against the passenger window and wiped the water off with my coat sleeve.
“I can see the moon,” I said. I was trying to direct our conversation away from the play. I could lick no more ashtrays, no matter how minty, and I vowed never to kiss or date a smoker again.
“Maybe it’s best if we don’t try to do this play together,” Dawn said.
I held back a sigh of relief.
“You sure?” I asked.
“We just can’t seem to get past this scene,” she said.
“Yeah.” My smoothness with women was starting to show through even at that age.
Had she a change of heart? Could she tell that her kisses repulsed me? What motivated her to choose me in the first place? Maybe she was one of those cases psychiatrists like to say never received enough love from their fathers.
I never found out. That was the last night we spoke to each other. We belonged to social groups so diametrical that, even in a high school that housed only about 400 students from freshmen to seniors, the opportunity never presented itself.
For seven years I lived up to my promise of never dating another smoker. Then I married a non-smoker to make it easier on myself — and because I love her and many other things I never could have felt for Dawn. Sorry, I don’t kiss and tell with her, so this story ends here.