In the ’80s, I had a girlfriend. Picture it: A Texas pre-school that served as a class in high school, where high school students got credits by learning about child development while teaching/babysitting us. I dimly recall the room being the size of a gym, but that’s probably a false memory. What is definitely true is that the classroom was divided into different cells. One was a construction site, with building blocks and things. My favorite, of course, was the homemaker cell, where we’d do the dishes and gossip over coffee and cruellers.
Anyway. So I had a girlfriend—probably because I liked to play housekeeper—and we’d kiss. Like, pecks on the lip. The teenage girls in charge thought we were adorable, but she eventually broke up with me. And to this day, when I hear the word “dumped,” I picture the yellow metal Mack dump truck that was in the construction site cell.
One day my mother and I were at the library, and my (at this point ex) girlfriend and her mother were also there.
Her mother bent down and grabbed my little 5-year-old arm.
“You shouldn’t kiss people!” she said. “That’s how people get AIDS.”