Author and Illustrator, JD Holiday's Blog:
~ BOOKS for Kids: Janoose The Goose, its sequel- Janoose And The Fall Feather Fair, The Spy Game & The Great Snowball Escapade, a chapter book for 6 to 9 years old; SIMPLE THINGS, a Christian Christmas middle-grade novel, and for Adult; Stories And Imaginings For The Reading Spot.
When I was thirteen I was called out of my class by the principal, Mr. Carrolio. The principal led the way ahead of me into the main stairwell. We were probably going down to his office. I thought, isn't that where you ended up if you've done something wrong, and where the principal can yell at you, you hope, without others hearing it. This was embarrassing.
But this was even worse for me. Mr. Carrolio was not only the principal but was a friend of my aunt and uncle's. This was not a good thing to be happening, especially since I didn't know what I had done. I was mortified.
As far as I knew no one had ever been pulled out of my class by the principal before. But it happened to me.
He was ahead of me in the stairwell, and halfway down he stopped and turned to look at me.
"Where you out with Leslie last night?" He said though he used Leslie's last name too.
I was glad we weren’t moving down the stairs because I was sure I would have stumbled and fall down them just then. And I didn’t know if I gasped out loud at the question though I thought my mouth opened and some sound came out. How did he know I was with Leslie last night? My knees quivered in fear and my nose began to run. I had to wipe it with my hand.
I was always willing to do whatever a friend wants to do for the most part. I wasn’t looking to get in trouble. I never liked it when my parents were disappointed but when Leslie said we were going to kiss boys that was exciting to me. I had never kissed a boy before. I needed the experience.
I didn’t think we did anything wrong. Yet Mr. Carrolio asking about it seem to imply it was. How did he learn about it, I wondered while not being able to turn away from his stare. After all, he was an adult. I was taught to respect them.
I shakingly said, “yes,” to his question was I with Leslie last night.
“Did the boys kiss you?” he asked watching my face. The boys he was referring to were two black boys from the eighth grade. Now, my brain screamed; maybe my parents wouldn't want me kissing boys. Though I didn’t know for sure. I never talked to them about that kind of thing. Then I thought, if he tells my parents, or worse, tell my aunt, she would make a bigger deal of it, I would have to have that conversation with them. Even more humiliating.
Last night after dinner I met Leslie, but the excitement vanished with a kiss. We met the two boys under the overpass along Route 80. It was a deserted place with the only sounds were of the vehicles above racing along on the highway. It turned out to be a crude experience. First, there were some weak hellos with the boys on one side and Leslie and me facing them. Then, with some shuffling back and forth by all, the boys just leaned forward to kiss the girl opposite. The one kissing me crushed his lips to mine for maybe ten seconds, and that was it. I hadn't yet formed an opinion of kissing when that boy declared, “She doesn’t know how to kiss.”
Leslie gave out a short giggle. And the boys turned and walked away. From excitement to dismal now, I just wanted to go home. Leslie said nothing about it and I was thankful.
From five years old, until the Beatles came to the USA, I was in love with Johnny Mathis. We owned one album each from Johnny Mathis, The Ink Spots, The Platters, Frank Sinatra, and after November 1963, one album of speeches by John F. Kennedy. I would put Johnny's on the record player playing it over again until my mother said to stop. She never told me Johnny was black.
I stammered, “yes,” to his question about the boys kissing us feeling sick.
“Were you petting?” he asked.
“What’s that?” I was frowning.
“Did they touch your body?” he inserted.
“No,” I said, why should they was my next thought. And anyway, it was early fall and though not so cold I was wearing my heavy winter coat because my mother said it was going to get colder. It was a hand-me-down red duffle coat a give away from one of my father’s more wealthy tax clients who thought his five children needed more clothes than we could afford. My father was an accountant. He charged every one seven dollars no matter who they were. Companies paid fifteen dollars. But, anyhow, touching would have been hard to do with that old coat over my slight build.
Mr. Carrolio just stared at me for what must have been a minute, I think, before he said, “You can go back to class.”
I bolted back up the stairs. My classroom was the first room on the left at top of the landing. As I entered the classroom I felt on display. Every one of my classmates turned to stare at me like they knew all about it. Mr. Tamorino paused a second then went on talking as I slipped back into my seat, my face hot.