Jessie was his name. I was “Jessie’s girl”. Whenever I thought about him, I would hear that song and place myself in the middle of the story; and hope that the other character’s longing for me was felt by him. I was young, but Hollywood had a hold on my heart and I ached to be needed and wanted just like I’d seen in the movies and in those songs. I was sucked in by it at that age and I succumbed to that little gendered role playing. That’s what Hollywood told me was romance. This was what it said I should yearn for.
Jessie and I hung out every Tuesday night when our Fathers played Baseball together at the local Football ground. It was always cold – I guess Baseball is a winter sport. The Football ground had lots of interesting places to explore and Jessie and I would find all the secret hollows in the bushes where kangaroos had laid down to rest at some point. I crushed on him, hard from the night I first met him.
He was slightly older and I thought he was such a badass. He was an outsider: someone who had had such a different upbringing to my own and I found that incredibly attractive. He had a fire inside him unaffected by his estranged family, their reliance on government handouts, the months living in the family car, the holey hand-me-down jumpers. It wasn’t his first kiss and I wasn’t jealous – I was excited. My eleven year old self thought he’d teach me a thing or two.
Jessie had been talking about kissing me for weeks but there hadn’t yet been a good time. Parents or siblings were around, he’d had a cold: excuses. I was relieved every time and disappointed, too. He could not admit he was as nervous about the kiss as much as I was. He was the tough, older boy. Of course he wasn’t nervous, he’d done this millions of times.
Hollywood did not prepare me for the anticlimax that was my first kiss. The final innings of the Baseball game was upon us. There were no Parents or siblings around. We were both without illness. Soon, the siren would sound and time would be up – our parents would call for us and we’d go back to our contrasting lives and homes. Now was the time to do it.
Unlike any other on-screen kiss I’d ever seen, we were next to a giant skip bin, filled with construction rubbish, dirt and dust. I have no idea why he chose this place to kiss me. Despite the location, my tummy churned with anticipation and my face burned with the blush and the cold night air. He put his arm around my waist and drew me into him. I guess he was affected by Hollywood’s cues too – what kind of thirteen year old boy knows to do this?
He looked me in the eyes and planted his lips on mine and pressed into my face. It was lovely. It was clumsy, but it was lovely. It’s hard to kiss when you are smiling. He gave me another. The siren sounded and he pulled away, looking urgently towards the field.
“Shit!” he said. “I shouldn’t have done that second one”. He squeezed my hand and ran towards the Club house, leaving me standing next to a skip bin watching my Hollywood moment disappearing into the bright lights. That was the last night that I was Jessie’s girl. I never saw him again.