My first kiss did not happen at fourteen outside a closed library on a dry and dreamy November afternoon. If I’ve ever told you that, it was a dreadful lie.
It happened, rather, at eleven, in the new den of my old house in front of a computer screen. From an indeterminate number of miles away, Pete, a fellow Ravenclaw, typed the words: “*kisses Sparrow on the mouth for the first time*”
Needless to say, I was blown away.
At eleven, I was possibly the most awkward human being who ever existed. I wore a Harry Potter t-shirt every day that went all the way down to my knees, long pants to cover my unshaved legs, and a wallet bulging from my baggy pockets because I refused to carry a purse. While all around me the discovery of makeup and social graces came into sharp relief, I went home every day from middle school and got on my computer.
When I got on my computer I stopped being Lisa, the sixth grader who sometimes faked a British accent and had a big plastic lunch box and was petrified of the locker room. I was Sparrow, a first-year Ravenclaw, the triplet sister of Parvati and Padma Patil, a prefect, a poet, a person. I had friends and admirers and thrillingly, epically, unexpectedly, a boyfriend.
Pete was twelve (an older man) and once referenced being Asian. I was smitten by his suave charms and grammatical correctness. We’d talk on instant messenger and discuss our common passions — notably, Harry Potter, Aaron Carter, reading and writing poetry — when one day (to my shock and abject terror!) he asked me out. I was frightened and rejected him immediately. I couldn’t fathom such a commitment at such a young age. Eventually, though, I considered and conceded in a heartfelt e-mail that even though I would never be brave enough to be a Gryffindor, I figured since we were both, like, writers and stuff, we should totally get together.
Thus began the tumult and beauty of my first ever relationship. I kept it from my parents because I knew they’d be disdainful of my love, and they’d tell me Pete was probably a 65-year-old man who would lure me into an alley and sell my organs. I defied them with a Juliet-esque flair, protesting my undying affection as Pete wrote stories about going on broomstick rides (back before that even seemed like a sexual innuendo). After one fateful moonlit ride, Pete delivered the asterisked proclamation of our first kiss. My heart jumped out of my chest.
I remember that sometime during the course of our great love affair, I stayed the night at my cousin Tiffany’s, where the conversation was absolutely required to revolve around boys. She’d already had more boyfriends than she could count, and I was overwhelmed. “Well, there’s Pete,” I said dreamily, in response to her pestering. Is he cute? (Damned if I knew!) “He’s…normal looking. But, you see, the important thing is our personalities. We’re both writers.” She looked at me like I was a space alien.
Our romance was dazzling and dizzying until The Other Woman entered the picture. She, Marianna, was Pete’s childhood friend in the mundane real world. They had the same birthday. They were close, but I knew my man would never leave me. But oh, woe! Alas! Alack! It came to pass that Pete’s and Marianna’s parents had promised their children in marriage, and he would have to leave me to stay loyal to his betrothed. He delivered the tearful typed goodbye: “*kisses Sparrow on the mouth for the last time*”
My heart ached for a good while, but, ever a trouper and never a martyr, I moved on to a hottie in the physical world from my Harry Potter Association. Pete was but a dim memory until a chance conversation with some other Internet chums.
BOY: lol, remember pete?
GIRL 1: ya
GIRL 2: mhm
BOY: i figured out that he used the same e-mail address for his name and marianna’s, and that he was totally a chick
GIRL 1: LOL!!!
GIRL 2: roflmao
BOY: i knew pete wasn’t real. no guy likes aaron carter that much.
Startled, I berated Boy for breaking my dreams, and resumed thinking of Pete in the perfection of my memory: stunningly and heartthrobbingly male.
It is only now, in the harsh light of the present, that I realize Pete for what he really was: the root of my lesbianism.