Really we were jealous of Moira Keegan, who had had polio when she was small, but we pretended moral outrage. She was said to be fast, but no one actually knew this for sure or knew for sure what “fast” meant. Rumor had it that she let boys feel her up inside her blouse and that sometimes she hiked up her skirt so they could fool around up there. What they would do once they got to her cotton panties we didn’t know, not then, but privately we thought it had to be delicious. At least I thought that.

On the playground, Mrs. Lamb, Mrs. Curtis, and Mr. Downing, the fifth grade teachers, stood at the center of our dodge ball game and warned us about Moira. We were scared for her, and some of us were just scared. We could only imagine wet kissing, not much more, and even that was a big mystery.

One Saturday afternoon, I met Johnny D’Angelo, a hood, at the movies. He was with Kevin Kelleher, and the three of us sat together. Once the theater went dark, Johnny slid his arm around my shoulders, leaned over me, and went straight for a tonsil kiss. There was nothing tender about it or him. When it was over, he leaned towards Kevin and said something that made them both laugh. After that, the three of us stared up at the screen.

The following Monday, I knew I would have to face Johnny and say something. When he sauntered into the classroom, I was standing by the coat closet with some other little girls. “I’m not Moira Keegan,” I shouted across the room and surprised myself.


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