Saturday, March 25, 2006

Kissing Manny

There was a moment; I was standing in line for the bathroom at the punk commune. Everything was very loud. Everyone was drunk or drugged or whatever, dancing, talking loudly. Smoke filled the room and it was probably one in the morning. This was a place we'd been every night for the last 3 months of summer. Manny was standing across from me in the hall, and we were staring at each other.
I was seized with courage. "Would you mind terribly," I said, "if I possibly kissed you? I mean you don't have to if you don't want to, but I want to, and well, would it be okay?"
"Yeah, okay," he said.
So I kissed him. I launched myself across the hallway and jammed my tongue into his mouth.
I don't think I've been that brave since then, frankly. It was an impulsive moment and one that defined our relationship, in many ways. I'm not sure how to describe how defining a moment it was. It crossed boundaries for me. Despite the appearance of the setting, in which you might imagine rough people whose confidence and bluster drove them to extremes. You might imagine people who flout convention to be hard, brittle, brutal. But my experience of the punk commune was of people who hid behind their costumes. If they wore black and safety pins and had outrageous hair, if they offended their parents any way they possibly could, it was out of a protective impulse, and inside they were small and unsure and frightened. Many of those kids were abused as children, or kicked around in various ways, and used their appearance for a smokescreen.


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