The first kiss I ever remember getting was from one of my mom’s boyfriends when I was somewhere between 1-2 years old and we lived in Ypsilanti, Michigan. My father had left us when I was not quite six months old, so we moved to Michigan to live with my Papaw Little, Mom’s dad, who worked at Ford Motor Company, and ran a boarding house for men on the side. In this way, we avoided for two years having to live with my grandmother, who blamed Mom’s failed marriage and her young unfathered child on Mom, who was no more at fault than my meddling grandmother was, but that’s a different story, for a different day. Mom and I were the only females who lived there in the boarding house with Papaw, and we were treated incredibly well by all the male tenants. Being young, pretty, and semi-single, Mom received a lot of attention from the men who boarded there.
One of the boarders there was also my Uncle Ronnie, my father’s youngest brother, who adored my 21-year-old mother and me, and who often asked Mom to marry him, to let him take care of the two of us like my father should have done. But Mom always tried to let him down gently by jokingly telling him, “Ronnie, I already married one Anderson too many.” (Side note: When my Mom died in April 2018, Ronnie drove from almost two hours away because he didn’t want me being at the funeral home without someone in my Anderson family there to stand by me – he’s an incredibly good man, and I love him dearly.)
The boyfriend I remember kissing, though, was named Aaron B. Wares – I think the “B” stood for “Bernard.” He was cute, in an early-to-mid-70’s sort of way. He wore butterfly collars on wild-patterned shirts, and bellbottom jeans. He had a brown mustache that tickled my face and big brown eyes behind his big wire-rimmed spectacles. It was nothing unseemly. He would try to kiss Mom good night after their dates, and Papaw had taught me to say, “You’ll have to kiss me first, and that’ll cost you a quarter!” And, so, Aaron would withdraw a quarter from his jeans’ pocket and give me a sweet kiss on the cheek, so he could give my sweet, patient mother a brush against the lips. And they would make plans to see each other again in a few nights and I would run to Papaw and ask him to keep my quarter for me until I had enough money to buy something I wanted with my “kiss money.” Boarding house life was interesting, to say the least…