My parents got me a guitar for Christmas the year I turned thirteen. It was an acoustic and I remember thinking that it felt too big for my lap as I held it; I could barely get my arms around it. Lessons came with the guitar and I spent every Wednesday afternoon before ballet with a long haired dude who really liked Poison. He made me cut my nails really short and soon my fingers were callused from practicing chords—they matched my toes, callused by pointe shoes. Three weeks in, he asked me what kind of songs I wanted to learn how to play.
“I really like Neil Young and Bob Dylan.” I said.
“What are you, ten?” He scoffed.
“Thirteen, actually.” I shifted in my seat while holding the neck of the guitar.
“Aren’t you supposed to like Blink-182 or something?” He looked at me like I had three heads. “Alright, well, pick the song you want to start with and I’ll teach it to you.”
"Heart of Gold" was the first song I learned how to play (and sing along to) on my guitar. I could see my dad beam as I played on the living room floor for my parents. My mom requested that I learn a Queen song soon. The Poison guy taught me every song I wanted to learn except for any by New Order. He was adamant and also he just couldn't figure out how to translate synths to acoustic guitar.
A few months later, I was hanging out alone in my living room with a boy. The only reason my mom let this fly was because the boy was moving out of state in the next few days. He came over after school on his bike and we watched TRL which I’m pretty sure was still hosted by Carson Daly at the time. We sat awkwardly and counted down the videos to number one without saying much. When it was over, he went over to his backpack and pulled a wrapped package shaped like a CD out and handed it to me. I’m pretty sure I blushed while unwrapping it; it was Blink-182’s Enema of the State.
“I thought you’d like it,” he said. He grinned and I saw his braces with their black and green rubber bands.
“Thanks.” I half-smiled and suddenly was more interested than I ever had been in Blink-182.
He leaned in, pleased with himself for his gift, and kissed me on the mouth. It was my first kiss, not counting the time I had attacked my kindergarten boyfriend during recess, and all I could think was that he’d had Ecto Cooler recently. I closed my eyes because this was what movies and TV shows tell you to do when you’re kissed and I let him push his tongue in my mouth. Yep, Ecto Cooler. I attempted reciprocating but wasn’t quite sure how to maneuver around mouth metal. We kept our hands to ourselves. I was disappointed that he didn’t put his hand in my hair or dip me or something. This was all at once exciting and a letdown.
After maybe two minutes, he pulled back and grinned again. He picked up his backpack and left. Through the living room window, I watched him ride his bike out of my cul-de-sac for the last time. I sat on the couch, MTV still on in the background, and realized I’d had my first kiss. Rather, I’d had my first kiss with a boy who thought I’d like Blink-182 and even though I was just thirteen, I knew already that someone could like you and not really get you. Even worse, or better depending on how you looked at it, you’d have to kiss a lot more people before you found one who could tell you were the sort of girl who listened to Neil Young records with her dad in the den. Eventually though, you'd listen to Enema of the State and realize that maybe there's more to life than what your dad and guitar teacher know.