It’s not like the movies

My first kiss was at a cadet camp. My child is never, ever going on a school camp, cadet camp, band camp, you name it. Ever. Not until he’s thirty.

But I digress.

I remember I was on a cadet camp at RAAF Amberley. I think it was one they called a ‘general interest’ camp. It meant we mostly spent our days marching around Amberley air base, doing a few lectures on things like aircraft recognition, and now and then marching over to the FA-18 hangars to look at them from a distance and murmur appreciatively.

To be honest, I really can’t remember what we did, aside from wear bulky uncomfortable Air Force overalls, and march around. And polish shoes. We polished shoes a lot.

His name was Chris. He was with 16 Flight, Air Training Corps. I remember he lived in Bauple, which is a little town outside of Maryborough. He was tall and skinny and freckled and had some of the reddest hair I’ve ever seen.

I’ve always had a bit of a thing for red hair. Maybe that’s why?

One of the issues staff had on cadet camps was keeping cadets busy in the evenings, after dinner. Because, obviously, that’s when cadets are most likely to get up to shennanigans. The staff we had came up with the most excellent plan for keeping cadets too busy to play around – they sent us to the base cinema.

That worked brilliantly, as you’d expect.

So somehow I ended up sitting next to Chris. And you know how it goes. You rest your arm on the shared armrest, starting out well over your side of the armrest so you’re not touching at all. A movie goes for an hour and a half or two hours, so you’ve got a while there to start casually sneaking your arm across the rest. You bump your neighbour once or twice, nonchalantly, just to gauge his reaction.

I think we were watching Top Gun. I remember that cadet camps recycled movies even vaguely related to aircraft ad infinitum. I’m sure it was about the third camp where I’d seen Top Gun. That movie is one of the most unintentionally camp movies I’ve ever seen, you know?

I think Chris put his hand on my knee at one point. I don’t remember properly, but that’s probably because the blood had rushed to my head and I was feeling kind of faint.

What I remember most about the kiss is how surprised I was. Surprised at the fact that it had happened at all, of course, but I think most surprised at how overwhelming it was. One moment, his face was near mine; the next, everything was technicolour and confusing and his tongue was frighteningly invasive. I’d had no idea.

So I’d already seen Top Gun several times, which kind of freed me up to ignore the screen. And I remember the lights coming up, but I don’t remember much about what happened next with Chris. He was much taller than me, so his position in marching formation was at one corner of the group, whereas I was somewhere in the middle. It meant that if we’d wanted to hold hands and walk back to barracks together, we couldn’t have, but I don’t know if we did.

I don’t remember having had a crush on him previously, and I don’t really remember having a crush on him afterwards. I did like him – there were a group of us who hung out together on that camp, mostly from Maryborough and Roma units. And Gympie, now that I think about it. But as far as I recall, we all sat together in the mess as we’d done before, and everything went on much as it had previously. I still sneaked biscuits out for everyone else in my cleavage (at 15, I was the only girl there who had room to pop half a dozen individually wrapped cookies down my shirt, hidden. But that’s another tale I guess).

I can’t say my first kiss was incredibly romantic, and I don’t know that it makes for a good story. You’d get more out of watching Top Gun, I suspect.

(You may borrow my copy, if you like).

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