Five Times Lenny Kissed Laverne (and The One Time It Counted)
1: The very first time Lenny Kosnowski kissed Laverne DeFazio, he dropped his ice-cream sandwich down the top of her brand-new peter pan blouse, and she slugged him right in the nose.
She 'd been instantly sorry, had held his head while he spurted blood all over the sidewalk. Later, she balefully eyed him while her pop bandaged his nose and scolded her for her gruffness. "You shouldn'ta surprised me, Lenny," she said later, firmly, grabbing her baseball bat on the way out of the apartment. "We woulda been fine if you hadn't surprised me."
Lenny would go on to surprise her hundreds of time. It was fun to make her squeak and jump like she'd seen a mouse (when he was older, he'd notice that it made her nipples harder than rocks, which just made it even more fun). Laverne was so controlled sometimes - unwinding her was way too much fun.
But he was all right with sporting a bloody nose for awhile - it made him kind of a neighborhood hero. Years later, he still had a little scar on his upper lip from the blow - she could hit pretty hard at five, would learn how to hit just as hard as an adult.
He was in for the ride.
2: The other first time Lenny kissed Laverne, it was at Scolneck Pond. Gut-broilingly hot outside, with hundreds of other teenagers crawling around and over the silt shores. Laverne had pigtails and her first bikini (which would show up many times in Lenny's fevered imagination), and she had had a muscle cramp that sent her tripping, down onto the pond's sandy bottom.
Lenny had volunteered himself to dive deep and true, down into the muck, until he managed to pull Laverne up by the straps of her suit - which promptly came loose as he applied 'artificial perspiration'.
That one got him a black eye. They were equally mortified, at least, as a unit.
He would just have to try harder.
3: The other first time Lenny kissed Laverne, they were standing in his apartment, and she was holding onto the jacket she'd just mended for him. He was so happy, so grateful, and had had no other way to express it but grab her by the shoulders and kiss her.
Laverne had been surprised, but this time she didn't hit him - they'd outgrown that sort of childish slapfighting for the most part. And she may have run away in total disgust, but she hadn't complained about his forwardness. He still understood no, obeyed her commands, but there was the impetus of a spark between them that would just grow with time.
He kept waiting, though his patience was beginning to run out.
4: The next first time Lenny kissed Laverne, they were climbing out of a motel room bed. It had been a brief encounter during a road trip, and neither of them anticipated sticking together for more than an hour - she had a rally in San Francisco, he was headed to a gig in a dive bar in Texas.
She insisted on hitching her way back to California - this was her adventure, and he was grown-up enough to know he had no part in it. This time, she pecked him on the cheek and walked off with a smile.
"Stay loose, Len."
He giggled. That dusty old bus had never been warmer.
5: The last first time Lenny kissed Laverne, she had come back to Burbank with two dissolved marriages and three kids bobbing in her wake. She had been exhausted, and overly grateful for the carton of beer he'd bought her on a lonely Friday night.
She had her own job, and was looking to get a sports equipment store off the ground; he was still trying to figure out if singing talent agents were worth their salt in the early 70s Hollywood scene. She put her head on his shoulder and he pecked her lips.
She drew back, but the hard reproach or physical violence he'd anticpated never materialized. "That's the first time you ever really kissed me, Len."
But even he knew better. "What about all the other first-times?" Lenny asked, tucking his head against her shoulder.
"They don't count," Laverne said, her palm splaying out against his hip.
That sounded pretty darn good to him.