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One Sweet Kiss

I was kept in bed by a memory of the first girl, besides my mother, whom I ever loved.

As long as I lay, my head buried in my soft pillow, the light Summer blanket pulled over my head, my wife’s soft arm resting next to mine, her lovely image remained.

I was afraid to move lest the effigy disappear. I want to hold on to it. But I needn’t have worried, her picture wasn’t going to vanish into thin air. It had been in my heart since I was in STD VII in KHS. I could call it up with ease any time I wanted.

She looked like my mother, tall and handsome, with round cheeks like two bubbles, pitch black hair down to her shoulders, kind black eyes, a sympathetic smile, brilliantly clever, shy, modest, a great sportswoman.

I remember her playing basketball, considered a girl's game in those days, and hockey. I’m sure she was captain of the team. She was born to be a leader.

I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Fortunately, she sat at a desk next to mine, only a narrow aisle separated us.

She was Venus and I worshipped her. Her white thigh showed protruding from the light blue school dress. She was concentrating on the English lesson given by Mrs. Bolus, I was concentrating on her.

I liked all the kids but no girl really attracted me, only Ursula. Thinking back, I realize this only now.

Saturday nights were party time for us, usually at the homes of one of the girls in our crowd. Several times it was at Dina Feldman’s, once at Helen Shenker, another time at Denise Cohen’s, then at Cynthia Sack’s. Often it was at our house, although we were three boys and few boys gave parties.

Ursula was popular with all the girls, she was the only non-Jewish girl in the gang of girls that I used to see from a distance, as they hung around the grey concrete steps at the corner of the quadrangle, next to the assembly hall.

I think her special friend was my next door neighbor, Josephine. They were both highly talented; Jo was a poetess, a talented painter, an actress and it was natural for them to be friends.

I never danced much at the parties, mostly standing around with my friends, Lenny, Kenny and Morris. Those were the days of rock ‘n roll, Little Richard and Elvis, for the fast dances like the twist and the Platters for slow dances. Guys dressed neatly and girls in colorful party dresses.

Ursula came to a party one Saturday night at Josephine’s, one house away from mine separated only by Alan Taitiz’s house. All the lights were on making the place look inviting. All other times, when I had considered approaching the Katzen’s residence, the strange thought entered my mind that, by approaching the house, I was making a commitment to be Josephine’s boyfriend or even husband. So I stayed away unless invited. At 17 years of age I hadn’t met a girl who I wanted to commit myself to. I hadn’t even kissed a girl for fear of such a commitment.

Little did I know that things would be different for me after this night. It all happened suddenly and without thought on the little black wooden bench that stood in the entrance hall of the Katzen house.

I asked her to dance. I must have been in a trance. She wore a long dark blue dress, made out of velvet. We sat down on the staid monk's bench. People passed us by and for the first time in my life I didn’t care about what anyone thought. There, on that hard black wooden bench, with everybody walking passed I kissed a girl for the first time in my life. I was ready to lay down my life for her.

As we walked to my house, after the party, I heard a voice calling me, as if in a dream. It was the voice of my friend Morris, who, like myself and many others in Krugersdorp, saw my father as a severe disciplinarian and strict protector of the purity of the Jewish nation, saying “your father will kill you”.

He was talking nonsense, nothing came of my short sweet kiss. I don’t know whether it was because of her or because of me. It didn’t matter, because I had learned that one sweet breeze doesn’t make a hurricane, but the memory of its sweetness lasts forever.

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