A first kiss is a big deal, especially when you're in your forties and you're still a virgin.
The bizarre associated circumstances, though, I cannot easily erase from my mind.
I'd been working for Bullseye for over a year.
Entry level job. Because of Covid. Got promoted to the front a few months in.
We dug out all the Christmas shit the day after Halloween. Around thanksgiving, Bullseye didn't so much set it up as pack up the paper turkeys and shuffle Kris Kringle a couple aisles to the front.
Bullseye already had a red color scheme, so they didn't have to decorate that much.
Then the endless loop of holiday songs started up.
All I want for Christmas is you. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas. The Sleigh Ride Song, with and without vocals. Jingle Bell Rock. Winter Wonderland. The Peanuts theme, even though it's technically not a Christmas song. Did I mention the Sleigh Ride Song. And so on. And so on. And so on. Every. Single. Day. Guess it might have been okay the first dozen times.
Around this time of year, with the wind, it feels like negative two below outside, and when you get in the building, they got the heat cranked up a hundred degrees. Hypothermia versus your antiperspirant breaking down. There's no in-between.
And, of course, they kept assigning me the register directly beneath the hot air vent.
Black Friday...don't know why I subjected myself to the torture.
Okay, time and a half, but still...why.
Huge lines. A whole lot of standing. Until your legs feel like they're going to give out. Finish with one customer, you got another breathing down your neck.
Weirdly enough, though, that's when it happened.
Osmifa worked the register next to mine. She'd always smile and wave to me when she opened up, grinning more when she noticed how bashfully I waved back.
African American. Ten years younger than me. Bald as a cue ball, but she looked cute in that uniform.
She said her name meant "Lovely Princess" in Swahili. The only Swahili I knew was "Jambo." Never did any fact checking.
One time I'd tripped over my words asking about the hair. "Chemotherapy." And since I'd nosed into her life, whenever she had the opportunity, she'd ask me a bunch of questions about mine.
On Black Friday, it's "All hands on deck." No time for small talk. Everyone staggered breaks to ensure we took them alone, maximizing register time. No chatting. Busy busy busy.
I swear Osmifa dropped that Yankee Candle on purpose. When she came back with the broom and dustpan, she leaned into my little cube. "Do you like Christmas?"
I shrugged, rolling more stuff across my scanner. "It's okay."
"It's a pain in the ass. You never know what to get people, it's too cold, I just don't like it. That and all these crappy songs."
"You think you'd enjoy it more if you weren't single?"
I couldn't think of an answer to that, and my prune faced customer could hear our conversation. Her face scrunched up like she'd just eaten a lemon. I quickly bagged the old lady's stuff and gave her the total.
Osmifa, in the meantime, had cleaned up the broken glass, returning to her register. We didn't talk again for a good couple hours.
Then...opportunity presented itself.
Would have made for terrible television. I'd just finished lunch, and I had mustard on my tie. The manager asked me to go out and bring the shopping carts in.
Freezing cold. The Arctic chill blew right through my khakis and ratty tennis shoes. My dirty, bulky black winter coat provided some defense, but the wind bit me through my gloves. Guess I should be thankful it hadn't snowed.
Osmifa, on the early shift, had just clocked out for the day. She strolled out the sliding doors in her little puffer jacket and black yoga pants, glittery rainbow scarf wrapped around her neck.
I nearly mowed her down with a stack of red carts. Her fuzzy boots clomped out of the way at the last second.
I apologized profusely, shoving the buggies into a cart corral.
To my absolute surprise, she grabs my hand.
We're both wearing gloves, so no transfer of heat. Still, my heart pounds a little.
At this point, I'm thinking stupid thoughts. Why is she holding my hand? Is this a practical joke? How long will we be holding hands in the cold? What will the shoppers and the manager think? Is this going to take long?
That's when she drags me beneath the holiday greenery.
I'm fumbling over my words, not wanting to seem gay, but also not wanting to be so eager as to scare her away. Was this a trick? Girls don't do this kind of thing with me...do they?
Osmifa snickered a little. "Hey."
She pointed up. "Mistletoe."
Warmth rushed to my face. "It's plastic."
Osmifa shrugged, implying `So what?'
Swallowing hard, I leaned forward...very hesitantly I might add.
Before I could make a move, she launched forward and pulled me in. Full mouth kiss.
It didn't feel like I expected.
Have you ever eaten a sundae where they put in way too much fudge? You open wide, expecting to eat a strawberry, but instead you ingest this huge glob of gooey chocolate, so thick that you just about gag. That's what her kiss felt like.
It didn't taste like no damn chocolate either. Imagine mixing butterscotch, Nyquil, bandages and kimchi together. That's...close to what it tasted like.
Also, I know the general dimensions of a tongue from owning one myself. This one...had...feelers. And the moment it touched my tongue, I hallucinated.
I pushed her back, gasping for air, eyes bulging in terror.
Osmifa only giggled and wiped her mouth. "You get very creative when you're playing with yourself."
I blushed. "What?"
"I thought most men used pornography, but not you..." She proceeded to describe things that nobody could know without placing a hidden camera in my apartment.
The color drained from my face. I dropped my tone to a conspiratorial whisper. "How the hell do you know all that?"
My face burned at the realization that I'd just confessed to things I refused to tell...anyone. Sounds died in my throat.
"In response to your thoughts, it's not you being a virgin, that wasn't an ordinary kiss. I'm not an ordinary girl, and I'd love to discuss it in greater detail over coffee later."
What, was she reading my mind? How? I swallowed, unable to formulate words. "I...don't..."
"Look, I know you enjoy being alone by yourself and putting on that silky little blue dress, stockings, and those girly black shoes, but we both know you want a real woman."
"What—" For a woman who just read my mind, she seemed...oddly ignorant of my thought processes. But the amount of information she already had! My mouth refused to form words.
"I don't mind that you play dress up. *I just thought you'd be a little tired of doing it alone..."
*"What time?" I blurted.
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