by Frank Harper

The summer of 1967 I was 17 years-old living in San Jose, California when I finally had a chance to go on my very first date. The Santa Clara County Fair was going on and I thought that was the best place to take Diane on a very warm Friday evening. Diane was a petite French girl that took a lot of nerve for me to ask her out. First of all, she was so cute and my biggest fear was being rejected because I was a awkward teenager. Much to my surprise she said, “Yes!” Now the nerves were kicking in because I was not experienced in the art of dating. I had never kissed a girl and I thought about the movie, Casablanca where the song was sung several times – A-Kiss-is-just-a-Kiss! I was working at Wools Cannery and I was able to get off early so I could wash and wax my 1952 Chevrolet pickup just so I can impress Diane on this special occasion.

My truck was waxed and cleaned and I put on my best Blue Jeans and I drove to Diane’s house. I got out of my truck and the next thing I knew I was greeted at the front door not by Diane, but her father. Oh boy I could see he was very protective of his lovely daughter and I assured him that we would be back home by 11:00pm. Diane was very anxious to say good-bye to her father and she grabbed my hand we were out the door – free at last! I opened the passenger door to my truck and Diane got in and slid over and I ran around the back of my truck and I opened my door – I could see she would be sitting right next to me. My heart was beating so fast I thought I would need oxygen. I tried to calm myself down because I didn’t want the dreaded sweaty arm pits.

We made it to the fair and we had a great time eating cotton candy, strawberry short cake and the best hotdogs in the world. We visited the animal barns and scratched the pigs and cattle. We rode the Farris Wheel and had a blast on the Bumper Cars. We decided that in order to get on the good side of her father that we should not be late and be at her house by 11:00pm and I actually pulled up to her house at about 10:45.

I shut off the engine of my truck and we talked about what a great time we had. You know that feeling when you just got to go for it – remember that first kiss. Well I made my move lifted my arm to romantically put my arm behind her neck and wham – my elbow hit her smack in her left eye. The last word I expected to hear out of this sweet little voice was – OUCH! I couldn’t believe it as I looked at her eye that was now red and swelling – this was not good. As the shock subsided – Diane knew that her father was waiting up for her. Diane said to me, “Frank you need to come in the house and explain to my father about my black eye!” Talk about the “Kiss of Death” I had to face her father, but I had to stand up to him and explain to him that I accidently hit Diane with my elbow. He was actually very understanding and I felt extremely humiliated. That was the longest drive I had ever taken in my truck as I headed home. My mom asked me the following morning how my date was? I simple said, “Mom you don’t want to know!”

Well a few weeks later Diane and I we went to a movie and this time I was very careful and Diane ducked her head for safety reasons – I landed my first kiss. A couple of years later I was shipped to participate in the Vietnam War and I lost track of the girl who gave me that first kiss.

I eventually got married, with elbow pads, and had two kids. The marriage didn’t last and we got divorced and I raised the boys as a single-parent. I have never forgotten about Diane who gave me my first kiss and I will never forget her father.

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