I kissed my first girl in the third quarter of the fifth grade.

Beth was a high school sophomore from Miriam. She lived three blocks from me, and one day I asked if I could walk her home. She said yes.

Standing on her front steps, I kissed her—smack—quickly. She didn’t seem to mind, so I did it three days in a row. On the fourth day, before I could kiss her, she invited me in. I’d have felt like Casanova had I’d known who Casanova was.

Inside, I was about to kiss Beth in the hallway when she stopped me and said, “Wait. You don’t know how to kiss.” Suddenly, I felt like Casanova in a swirl of skunk vapor at point-blank range. Then Beth surprised me and said she’d show me how to do it right.

I am so grateful.
French kissing was amazing. Back then I could kiss Beth for four hours and do nothing else. Or possibly I was just rationalizing because I figured that there was no chance in hell that Beth would ever let me do much of anything else.

No, I really didn’t mind.

I’ve always been a pragmatic guy, interested in investing for the long term. If I could kiss Beth for four hours, perhaps one day she’d let me rub the outside of her sweater. So what if my faith in the future was remarkably similar to that of a contestant on “Deal or No Deal”?

“Do you want to risk everything for what’s in the box, or do you want to keep the money you’ve got?”

I wanted to keep what I had. I didn’t want to go too far and have a girl say, “You know what? You’re an animal. You’re not getting any of this. I’m taking away the kissing and the outside of the sweater because you tried to go inside the sweater.”
My routine with Beth was pretty much: get up, go to school, get out of school, kiss—we’d sit on the couch for hours after class, just making out—go home, eat dinner, go to bed. Sometimes I’d call her at night. We even exchanged photos. One day, after a couple hours of swapping spit in her basement, I finally put my hand under Beth’s sweater.

I’m lying.

She put my hand under her sweater. It’s the truth and an important lesson: Long-term investment pays off. Guess what? She was wearing another sweater. But hey, if a door opens, you stroll on in.

At that moment life really, really changed. I walked home from her house and passed a woman watering her lawn. I looked at her and thought, “You know, I know what I’m doing now. You’d better be careful. I could wreck your home.”

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