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How My First Kiss Changed Everything

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Author Frank Schaeffer remembers the girl who tempted him to break his parents' strict moral code.

This is an excerpt from Frank Schaeffer's memior, Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics—and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway.

The Girl Who Let Me was French and the same age as me when we met in the summer of 1964. We were both thirteen. She was the village pastor's niece visiting from France. It was early July, so the hay field above the back road was full of field flowers—Queen Anne's lace, ox-eye daisies, and buttercups—tangled up with the tall grass into lovely swaying thickets of vivid color. Swiss Alpine meadows are made mostly of flowering plants. The day was warm and the dense two-to-three-foot-tall hay field–flower meadow provided sweet-smelling privacy, a screen to shield us when we lay down while being serenaded by crickets. We Waited For Marriage

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I'd happened to walk past the village parsonage that morning. It was a large three-story house about a quarter of a mile from ours. The Girl Who Let Me was standing by the gate. That's where we met. Like all Swiss state-owned buildings (in the canton of Vaud), the village parsonage had solid shutters painted with wide green-and-white stripes, and it was made of imposing masonry.

I'm guessing that The Girl Who Let Me had been looking at the mountains, waiting for a boy, any boy, to come along. I wish I could remember her name. I said hello, and she said hello, and I said I lived up the road—not mentioning that I was one of the weird missionaries, though later she told me she knew who I was because her uncle disapproved of us Schaeffers and said so. Anyway, that first day she didn't ask awkward questions. I asked her where she was from, and she answered Paris, and then, with a sudden flash of inspiration, I asked her if she'd like to go for a walk because the crocuses were still blooming only a fifteen-minute hike up the steep path. What I Learned From My First Kiss

She said yes!

Just as we got deep into the pine and beech forest after walking about a half a mile up the trail (which cut almost vertically into the woods from our back road up to the peaks above us), The Girl Who Let Me put her hand in mine. She actually initiated the contact by slipping her fine-boned delicate cool little fingers into my palm. I didn't dare to look at her in case that would make her realize what she'd done since I assumed this hand-holding was some sort of mistake. Maybe she was so used to pairing up two by two for school walks—as the Swiss and the French made their youngsters do when forming them up in rows—that we weren't really holding hands the way I hoped we were (like a married couple On Their Way To The Wedding Night) but just doing something she thought all children had to do on walks. Pop Culture Vs The Pulpit: How I Decided Premarital Sex Was Wrong

One of the great things about The Girl Who Let Me—besides the fact she kept holding my hand the way I hoped some Girl would someday and that someday was miraculously today—was that she turned to me and said "Tu es très mignon" (You're very cute). Oh, for the chance to walk up my old mountainside into that spring day again. I'd like to really talk to her this time. I'd like to ask her who taught her how to keep gently guiding my hand away from her lap and how many babies she has had during the years since we met and whom she married and if her life has been happy and if she remembers me. Mainly I'd like to thank The Girl Who Let Me.

Does she, like me, bathe her grandchild toddlers these days while singing "Ba Ba, Black Sheep" at the top of her lungs and then howling with them like wolves? Does she draw pictures for her grandchildren of bad kitties knocking over plates and glasses while the cats are jumping over a table chasing mice? Is Beatrix Potter's A Tale of Two Bad Mice also a favorite in her household? Has it surprised The Girl Who Let Me that the best thing that ever happened to her is her grandchildren's love? Does she feel disconnected from that thirteen-year-old French girl who let that American boy hold her hand? Could she please send me a picture of herself as she was then and one of herself now with her family around her because I can't remember her face, only that her hair was light brown and a bit frizzy, and that she was so very slender, and that her Nipple was a pale translucent mauve that matched the lavender crocuses on the mossy bank just above where we were lying.

We kissed in the woods. She let me touch her breast after I managed to push her bra up, or rather push a cup up after she opened her blouse (matter-a-fact as you please). It wasn't a big lacy contraption like the ones on our chalet's laundry line. It was simple, small, and made of a flower print decorated with tiny Pink rosebuds. The problem was that I couldn't kiss her and stare at The Nipple, so I intermittently did one activity while pretending not to do the other since I was more interested in seeing—AT LAST—than in kissing. And that's why I can't remember her face. Seeing The Nipple was like looking into the sun; it obliterated my ability to perceive almost anything else.

The Girl Who Let Me used her tongue's tip and flicked it back and forth over my tongue tip so quickly that it felt like the electric toothbrush Dad had recently purchased and let me try out. I was startled. I'd never been told that tongues would be involved! I knew all about how Your precious seed will swim up into your wife's womb and meet the precious egg, but Mom said nothing about tongues.

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