BY SAMANTHA MANN
Surprisingly, the first time I kissed a girl I was sober. Maybe not as surprisingly, the first time I kissed a girl it happened in a frat house. It was first semester of my freshman year and my best friend and I were at a frat that we wouldn't be caught dead in just one year later. The guys who inhabited the house were generally nice, they had an outdoor space decked out with multiple beer pong tables, corn hole, and most importantly the keg beer flowed endlessly. We knew these weren’t the "cool guys" on campus, but we didn’t care. We would eventually develop a sense of social rules to float around, but that first semester everywhere was open to exploring.
As a college freshman you have an abundance of things working against you. You’ve recently been ripped from your comfortable home where someone took care of all of your basic needs. You have to learn how to maintain a daily schedule, keep up with grades, not gain too much weight, make friends, not get pregnant, become an expert in talking about sex, ensure your parents think you're happy, and figure out your new identify as an independent adult.
Despite all of this, college freshmen are given one gift. A gift that is like Cinderella’s dream evening in that it only lasts for a finite amount of time (and in this case someone is bound to come home missing a shoe and not remember the guy she made out with as the clock struck midnight). This is the gift of social floating. As upper class men in our sorority, Meredith and I will never hang with the Frisbee team, loser frats, or at the neighborhood stoner house. Social floating is the one thing that makes being a freshman special. You haven’t established any roots and everyone assumes you’re too naïve to know what you’re doing.
Those first months we frequented anyone's house with an open door and full keg. We toured every sports house, bottom-rung fraternity, and even crashed random apartment parties because they were crowded and easy to blend into. Meredith and I had some of our most memorable and enjoyable nights of our freshman year hanging out with the loser frats, Frisbee Team, and stoner guys.
That year we also had very Wild West attitudes. We carried around empty flasks so we could fill them up with other people’s liquor. During our nights out we frequently dropped Ramen Noodles, Goldfish crackers, and entire cans of soup into our bags. Some mornings we would wake up with new DVD’s, books, bottles of Advil, and one time a man’s electric razor. Christmas came most mornings.
On one particular Thursday, we ended up at a frat that consisted of primarily acne-ridden, skinny, nerdy boys. Truthfully they were sweet and smart, and not as creepy as the guys we would later deem as the coolest. These nerds managed to engineer a beer bong that ran the length of their staircase and never leaked. On this seemingly typical night we stood around their keg trying to gag down a solo cup of half foam and half beer—we still hadn’t perfected the art of pouring—we spent many nights swiping the oils off our noses and then twirling our oily finger around the cup to get rid of the excess foam-I don’t remember if this worked, but I can't believe we didn’t care how disgusting this was. We complained that we couldn’t find a drop of liquor in the place.
After mere weeks of partying the two of us had developed a nose for sniffing out who had what in a room. It took a 10-minute scan of the place to determine who had weed, pills, was DTF, and more importantly who was hoarding the hard stuff. One of the frat brothers overheard us grumbling about a lack of liquor and mentioned he had a bottle of Burnett’s in the freezer. We smiled mischievously at one another and pounced. The fact that someone was offering up"good" vodka to us was a real treat. I use the word "good" loosely. Obviously Burnette’s isn’t Belvedere, but it was a considerably large jump from our typical aristocrat, which is undoubtedly 45% rubbing alcohol.
We turned up the charm and began complimenting his frat as we inched our way towards the kitchen. Just as our new favorite frat brother set up shot glasses, one of his roommates shouted, "Hey man! That vodka’s mine! You can’t just give it to those girls! I don’t even know them." As annoyed as I was, I understood this guy’s perspective. Liquor doesn’t grow on trees.
"Hi I’m Sam," I shouted across the kitchen. "We come here a lot and think your house is awesome." I would have batted my eyes if they were capable of such a thing. "Come on man," our favorite frat boy pleaded, "we’ll just have one shot."
The owner of the vodka walked over to us, shook our hands and introduced himself. I remember this feeling too formal for the night and location. I rolled my eyes at Meredith. She jabbed me in the side and gave me a look that said, "Keep your eyes on the prize." I hated having to work too hard for anything. I was more of a loud mouth than a flirt, so I didn’t have too many tricks in terms of getting guys to give me what I wanted.
Luckily, guys typically looked at Meredith and gave her everything without question. She has a natural femininity to her that I have never held. She's one of those girls who instinctively knows how to apply make up and do her hair just right. She spent the summer before we headed off to college trying to teach me how to properly gel my hair to keep it curly and tame. She forced me to buy my first pair of nice jeans, and always picked out my outfits when I couldn’t make things coordinate.
"Ladies," the vodka owner said in an obnoxious voice that sounded like he had watched The Godfather too many times, "I’ll make a deal with you both. You girls kiss, just for a few seconds, and I’ll give you as much of the vodka as you want."
Meredith and I looked at each other and simultaneously broke into hysterics. While we were an affectionate duo, especially when buzzed, we had never kissed. I know this seemed like an obvious time for us to grab our things and get the hell out of there; in fact, I think I've seen an episode of Law And Order SVU that starts off in this exact scenario, but it's important to understand a few things: One being that this vodka is a hot commodity and something that could fuel an entire evening.
Also, Meredith and I were in a real party monster stage in our lives and loved having crazy stories to tell our friends back home. I also personally had been waiting for this day to come. I had been fantasizing about this exact college moment since I was freshman in high school. Part of me couldn't believe how fast my forced girl kissing fantasying was coming true. We looked at the vodka and then at each with that "come on, we got this" face and told the guy he had a deal.
Before we could discuss a plan of action, the two guys corralled us onto a "stage" in the living room. I use the word "stage" loosely as it was just pieces of plywood hammered together about three feet off the ground. (This was the same "stage" that just a few months later one of our friends would fall from while dancing, resulting in a torn meniscus. I can't remember how she explained that away to her parents, but I believe it required 6 weeks of PT.) Within seconds a group of frat guys surrounded us chanting "Kiss, kiss, kiss!"
This part might have also been in that same episode of Law and Order SVU. Being surrounded by a bunch of drunk chanting guys was a horrifying experience. This is also the least sexy way to set up a kiss. The chanting felt like a threat, but I stayed calm by looking at Meredith. She laughed and twirled her hair around teasing the guys.
For a drawn out 60 seconds, we stood there just staring at each and laughing out of fear. The pressure set in. We knew we had about 30 seconds to make this happen before the guys started booing, leaving us up there, and moving onto something more exciting. Drunken frat guys have the attention span of newborn puppies. I felt panicked.
My fantasies about kissing a girl usually took place during a calm game of spin the bottle or truth of dare in a dim lit basement. In my fantasy I was already a little buzzed. The buzz was what gave me permission to indulge. I had never felt more sober. My armpits were sweating, and I could feel my pulse pushing out of my throat. Meredith looked at me, now also panicked. Then without warning she leaned in and kissed me. It happened all at once and in total slow motion. I felt her tongue. I couldn't believe how soft her lips felt. I heard cheering. Before I could open my eyes it ended. She hopped off the stage and a group of guys ushered her into the kitchen. I stood frozen. My veins felt hot. My face flushed. Electricity ran through me. I’d kissed plenty of guys, but I had never experienced these sensations. I wanted more.
Walking in a daze to the kitchen I told myself it was just the adrenaline from the crowd. I had plans to rush a sorority. I did not have time to toy with kissing girls. Meredith stood in the kitchen, smiling, and handed me a full shot glass.
"We’ve earned it," she said full of accomplishment. I smiled and quickly knocked back the first shot. I then continued to pour, and began what would be a 3-year journey in attempting to forget all the feelings that still lingered.
Samantha Mann works as a behavior analyst working with kids and teens who have Autism in NYC. She's an occasional writer. She has recently contributed to Bustle, XO Jane, and Washington Post Magazine. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with her wife and their dog.