Sex + Love

First Kiss

Eleven years after the fact, Krista interviews the first girl she ever smooched.

“There she is,” my best friend, Esther, hissed. We were at Kavarna, the coffee shop hangout in Green Bay, Wisconsin. It was July second, the summer before senior year of high school.

Esther worked at Kavarna and had been telling me for weeks about a girl who came in sometimes to get coffee. Esther said this chick was the most beautiful girl she’d ever seen in real life, that she looked like an actual model, that I had to see her so I would know what Esther was talking about.

Esther had asked: The girl’s name was Whitney. Whitney* always ordered a cappuccino. She went to a different high school on the other side of town. This made her automatically mysterious.

Illustration by Olivia

Today was the day Esther had decided that we would befriend Whitney. She was the one for us. We were cool and we would add her to our group of cool girls (previous membership: two).

As soon as I saw her, I understood what Esther had been going on about. Whitney was really tall and really thin, and she had a shining mane of honey-colored hair streaming all the way down her back. She had sort of…loped into the coffee shop, flopped a tattered canvas backpack onto a table, and folded her long legs under the chair. She gave off the distinct impression of not giving a shit what anyone thought of her.

To a self-conscious 17-year-old, that’s all it took.

I suddenly felt all fluttery. Esther and I went over to her table. Esther said, “Can we sit here? I see you all the time. We’ve decided to be friends with you.” Whitney looked up. She didn’t seem remotely surprised. “Sure.” Maybe this was normal for Whitney. Maybe strangers always wanted to sit with her because she was so beautiful.

This was not normal for me. I was 17. I was Mormon. Really Mormon.

I had never: seen an R-rated movie, tasted caffeinated coffee, had a sip of beer, touched or even seen a boy’s weiner, been shopping on a Sunday, smoked a cigarette, said the F-word in a volume above a whisper, met a queer woman, or worn a two-piece swimsuit. And I did not know that any of this was unusual.

I was going through a huge “linen everything” phase. Loose linen pants, spaghetti-strap linen tank top, Birkenstock clogs. I was wrinkled all over, all the time, and I took to carrying a spray bottle filled with saltwater everywhere I went so I could mist my clothes, pull out the wrinkles, and achieve that totally careless, perfectly rumpled look like I was permanently strolling down the beach with my sweatered husband in a Viagra ad. Gah.

Within minutes of meeting us, Whitney had invited us to a fireworks show the next night. Apparently, it was supposed to be “killer.” Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon would be played. Whitney was going to go alone (Who did things alone??? God, that was cool), but we could come if we wanted.

“Oh awesome,” I said. I didn’t know who Pink Floyd was.

The next night, Esther and Whitney and I laid out on a quilt in the darkness, watching fireworks explode overhead. We all cuddled. Whitney was wearing soft gray corduroy jeans. She looked amazing in them. Esther inhaled a clove cigarette, exhaled, and passed it to Whitney, who held it so loosely between her fingers that it seemed like it might drop, any second, onto the quilt.

After that night, Esther, Whitney and I were inseparable. And then, gradually, just Whitney and I were inseparable.  We started hanging out without Esther. I didn’t know why. I was just happy someone as cool as Whitney had chosen me.

She lived in a huge house out on the bay, and her parents were never, ever home. They had a stocked liquor closet that Whitney was free to help herself to. I could sleep over for days at a time and no one cared.

Instead of getting wasted on Malibu, Whitney bought books on rare vintage wine and opened bottles from the cellar, thoughtfully swishing each mouthful to discern “oak notes” and “jam flavors.” She made me watch Stanley Kubrick movies. She introduced me to sushi. She showed me the proper way to crack open a lobster. She got me high for the first time by kissing me and breathing pot smoke into my mouth.

Christ. She was a new world for me. I loved her.


Fast forward 11 years. Whitney and I are still friends. I live in Chicago. She lives in California.

I called her up after not talking to her for several months, and left her an awkward voicemail, asking if I could interview her about our first kiss ever. She called me back at work the next day, and here’s how it all went down.

KRISTA: OK, I have exactly 20 minutes to talk before I have a meeting, but I don’t think this’ll take that long. So, did you even know you were my first girl-kiss?

WHITNEY: Actually, no, I did not. That’s funny. I had experience with two other girls before you. Just kissing, though.

KRISTA: So I was your third girl kiss. Man.

WHITNEY: Of the three, though, definitely the best.

KRISTA: Hmph. So what was I like as a teenager?

WHITNEY: You were really intelligent and exciting. I always thought you were beautiful.

KRISTA: [Turning bright red] Thanks. Um. Do you remember when you first started liking me?

Whitney: It was when I first met you. You were with Esther at Kavarna and you were telling me a story about putting a giant stuffed animal in someone’s yard at night as a joke. I had no idea what you were talking about. I thought you were stunning. I was experimenting at that time. I didn’t really know my sexuality.

KRISTA: Did you know that I liked you liked you?

WHITNEY: No! I mean, I knew you wanted to be friends. But no.

KRISTA: I didn’t know I liked you either. One night I was getting ready to go over to your house for one of our sleepovers and I was curling my hair and putting on makeup really carefully. I thought, “Why am I primping to go over to Whitney’s house?” And it hit me: I really cared whether or not you thought I was pretty.  I remember thinking, “Ohmigosh. Do I like Whitney?”

WHITNEY: [Laughs.]

KRISTA: Do you remember the first time we kissed? I have to be honest—I was very focused on getting in your pants even though I would have had no idea what to do next. So, don’t be mad, but I’m not sure I remember our first kiss.

WHITNEY: The first time I remember really kissing was on one of the twin beds in your room.  We were lying down. I remember you put your hand on my hips and said you liked hip bones.

KRISTA: It’s still a problem.

WHITNEY: It was after dinner. You were wearing these killer 3 ½ inch red heels. I was really impressed. We made out in your bed. You were close to my face at first. Then you leaned in.

KRISTA: OK, so this is weird, but: what were you feeling when we kissed? Because I had wanted to kiss you for so long it was monumental.

WHITNEY: I was struggling because I obviously liked men, but I had this thing with you. I remember the feeling of your lips. Of the girls I kissed, definitely the sweetest and softest.

KRISTA: [Instantly beginning to plot how to get back together] Really?

WHITNEY: Man, I can even remember your lip balm. You were going through a Softlips phase.

KRISTA: You were my first obsession, the first person I ever said “I love you” to. Did you know I used to write tortured poetry about you? I have journals full.

WHITNEY: You do? I didn’t know that.

KRISTA: Did you think I was a lesbian?

WHITNEY: I didn’t know if you were full-on. You were dating that fricking Armani model [Italian boy I dated. Not an Armani model]. I thought you might be, though.

KRISTA: Why do you think you and I didn’t work out?

WHITNEY: I’ve always been on the fence. I like being with men. A lot. I like the way I feel when I’m with men. I couldn’t give it up.

KRISTA: I am really, really, chronically gay.


KRISTA: What are you doing these days?

WHITNEY: I work in the wine industry in Napa Valley and I’m happily engaged. He actually just moved in.

KRISTA: Awesome. [Pause.] It was really good to talk to you.

WHITNEY: Sure. This was fun. Bye, Krista.

KRISTA: Bye, Whitney. ♦

*Name has been changed.


  • MissKnowItAll January 10th, 2012 7:40 PM

    Wow, this was so nice.
    (Awkward ending though…)

  • steph.anie11 January 10th, 2012 9:00 PM

    i admire anyone who has the nerve to call up their first kiss and interview them about it!

  • Nomi January 10th, 2012 9:09 PM

    The first girl I ever kissed was my first friend and one of my best still. Starting from around age five, we kissed each other on the lips every time we saw each other until we were old enough to realize how much this disturbed our parents. Now she is bicurious and I am chronically, chronically straight, which is probably why I’m so sexual around girls.

  • Jamie January 10th, 2012 9:36 PM

    sounds babely

  • Kayelle January 10th, 2012 9:46 PM

    This is a beautiful story. I live near madison, wisconsin and sometimes it’s hard to beleive that great stuff like this can happen so close to home. It gives me hope to have freinds like this.

  • burn-your-flesh January 10th, 2012 11:19 PM

    Haha ‘really, really, chronically gay.’ I really like the illustration, also today’s background is awesome (you can’t go wrong w/ Kim Gordon)

  • fizzingwhizbees January 10th, 2012 11:24 PM

    I forgot about my first girl-kiss too! It was with one of my best friends in elementary school, and in my futile attempts to repress my total queerness I completely put it out of my mind. This article made me think of it again. How nice. :)

  • impromptulove January 10th, 2012 11:38 PM

    I kissed one of my best friends, briefly, a peck-on-the-lips affair, in the middle of the neighborhood swimming pool, right next to our other friend who had a crush on me. It was kind of horribly mean.

    My first real kiss was also with a best friend, but this time we were lying on my bed and my hands and lips were shaking and I had to write down “would you hate me if I kissed you,” because I couldn’t say it out loud. A month or two before, we’d made a list of pros and cons to dating. I wasn’t sure if I liked her, and then I was afraid that if we started, we would never stop. It’s been over 3 years, now.

  • Kaleidoscopeeyes January 10th, 2012 11:55 PM

    Awkward at the end there, eh?

  • madpie January 11th, 2012 1:28 AM

    this is beautiful. a little novel in ways. from the beginning to the epilogue. fantastic!

  • Nikilodeon January 11th, 2012 5:24 AM

    Hmm… I’m almost 17, I’ve also never touched a boy’s weiner and I’ve never smoked a cigarette (and to be honest, I’m not really interested in doing so). Does that really make me weird?

    • Naomi Morris January 11th, 2012 1:52 PM

      NO. not weird, just you.

    • zombiesockmonkey January 16th, 2012 2:46 PM

      I’m 17 and have no interest in doing either of those things as well so no :)

  • Sparletta January 11th, 2012 6:13 AM

    Yes I agree with Nikilodeon.

    I think it is perfectly normal, at 17 years, to not have done any of the things mentioned. Where do you get your statistics from, Krista?

    Because you’re certainly making me feel like I’m ”unusual”, when I know many other 17 year olds are just like me and we’re not mormons.

    • Nikilodeon January 13th, 2012 7:36 AM

      Right? I mean, not that there’s anything wrong with doing the stuff Krista mentioned, but it’s not like all 17 year olds have.

      I dunno… reading that part kind of made me feel “unusual” too. And I’ve some across those kind of things before, like, “WHAT you were already 17 and STILL a virgin??” which makes me feel like everyone expects kids our age to be so … what’s the word… wild, I guess. But I thought about it and realized everyone kind of goes their own pace and whether you live a wild, party animal life or a really conservative one, it’s your own business and no one can say it’s weird or unusual.

      Haha and I’m glad I’m not alone!

  • Miarele January 11th, 2012 6:39 AM

    It’s an exciting story leading up to the interview, but the interview itself is a little bit… unsentimental? It just gives the feeling of a very casual (almost too casual) “a-matter-of-fact” manner, so it’s just kinda anti-climatic. Or is it just the way you two actually are about this?

    either way, interesting article, as always! :)

  • Giulia Lain January 11th, 2012 11:12 AM

    I loved that story! Mainly because I’m still discovering my sexuality.

  • Cruicked January 11th, 2012 11:27 AM

    This is such a good article. The part before the interview is super and nice and the interiew is entertaining. I’ve never been kissed tho.

  • Lifeguard of Love January 11th, 2012 1:12 PM

    OK this is REALLY weird, but, 11 years ago when *I* was 17, my BFF and I, both queer girls, were stoned out of our minds at a Dairy Queen in Olympia, Washington, *pretending* we were at a cafe in Wisconsin (!!) waiting for hot girls to run away with.

    This is a very nice story and the “awkward” ending is totally realistic. That takes some guts to interview yr first kiss!

  • Lolla January 12th, 2012 5:36 AM

    A spray bottle!? That’s kind of hysterical.

    I was in college and blackout drunk the first time I kissed a girl, but some reason I REMEMBERED this girl. It still haunts me, she’s perfect. And I was half-lid fumbling with malt liquor breath, forgive me Sappho.

  • Arabelle January 12th, 2012 6:44 PM

    “WHITNEY: Man, I can even remember your lip balm. You were going through a Softlips phase.”

    screams silently i love this interview SO MUCH

  • vintage nerd January 12th, 2012 11:43 PM

    I love this article so so much. I wish I had the nerve to kiss one of my best friends..she has told me she is bi but I can’t seem to get the nerve to just kiss her!

  • V January 13th, 2012 1:48 AM

    oh my god i am in love with this. now i want to interview my first girl kiss but maybe it is too soon? three years is way less monumental than eleven years. we still live in the same city and i know what she is doing (kind of) so perhaps it will be better if i wait. okay i am plotting this, i will wait eight more years…

    sigh. this was just one of those great reads, you know? i wanted to be kissing whitney. i kind of felt like i was. ALSO I AM ALSO OBSESSED WITH HIP BONES OMFG.

  • Nickysperanza January 17th, 2012 5:36 PM

    I love how beautifully written this is. It’s also very relatable. My first girl kiss was my next door neighbor when I was five. She was 2 years older,and she was one of the prettiest girls ever. My first boy kiss was in the 8th was a peck and we dated for 3 months. We barely even held hands, haha. Im a junior now and I’ve never legitimaltey dated anyone…hm, anyways needless to say I’ve never smoked a cigarette or touched a weiner.

  • coffybaby January 20th, 2012 3:17 PM

    This had such a sad ending!

  • didalotofacid February 5th, 2012 3:18 PM

    Aw man I kind of love this! Totally had me at “strolling down the beach with my sweatered husband in a Viagra ad”, tbh.

  • Aswitnessed February 8th, 2012 1:26 AM

    This is so great. Reminds me of my first girl kiss….we were in like 2nd grade and had a sleepover at her house. We pretended that we were husband and wife and were shooting a scene for a movie. It was so ridiculous.

  • doris101 February 8th, 2012 11:42 PM

    Such a nice story, makes me wish I had friends like that.

  • Aeyla April 23rd, 2012 1:24 PM

    Oh man, what a beautiful story, but it makes me sad too – if that ever happened to me… I’d never get over her…