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March 14, 2007


This is one of your best posts yet, Danny. It brought back all sorts of memories for me. I think you are so right. Childhood and young adolescence is not sweet and neat at all. Well, it certainly wasn't for me. Very confusing and scary and who knew what we were supposed to do or were doing? Of course, I fell in love from kissing. I was always completely flabbergasted that anyone would *want to* kiss me in the first place. Each time was like a miracle!

I cannot imagine what it is like having a young daughter. My son was so gentle and sweet in his adolescent revolution now that I think about it - as I recall those years - at least in comparison to what I hear from friends, see in movies etc.

You have some anxious, glorious years ahead with your Leah as she blossoms into a young woman. I wish you an open heart, open mind, strong, firm, loving supervision and, the courage to remember what it was like to be young!

I was such an outcast geek in junior high that I never got invited to any kissing parties. Not that I didn't fantasize about it.

Everything about that age just makes me cringe. It's one of the main reasons I don't want children -- I don't think I could take reliving those years again.

Fabulous post, Danny, as always. I am cracking up at the thought of your big sister giving kissing lessons. Hilarious.

I loved this post too. I noticed a huge difference in my girls once they hit 7th grade, and started junior high. They don't seem to have make-out parties the way we did when I was their age. Although, on my daughter's 13th birthday, she and her friends hid behind a big tree to play spin-the-bottle before her sister ratted her out to me.

Danny, maybe I should be thankful that my kids go to a day school where the boys and girls have separate classes from grade 6 through 8 -- just when those hormones are having their "coming-out" parties. My son is in grade 6, and clearly he and his friends are not interested YET in the girls. But I'm sure those times are a-coming.

You named some family shows that showed a pretty life. I think, however, the Waltons were more real to life. And I also loved the show (and I have a feeling you might have, too) THE WONDER YEARS. With the offscreen narration and the awkwardness of the young teenagers, we were facing real-life matters of the mind and heart that kids in that age bracket contend with.

Great post.

Initially I was going to ask how you possibly remember this stuff, but two-thirds of the way through this post I realized (partly to my horror) that I DID remember a number of those parties. Although I don't think I ever went to one of Whitcup's. But I do remember slow dancing to Chicago's "Colour My World" , Three Dog Night's "One", and even "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)" - Any excuse to hold a girl that close and shuffle my feet in a slow circle. I'm thinking these were in either 6th or 7th grade.

Although I can't remember my first kiss, or my very first 'Post Office'/'7 Minutes' partners, at least two of my fellow participants are in that top picture. Incidentally, there may be more, because of the 14 identifiable girls in that picture, I can only name 9. I hate being just senile enough to remember what I'm forgetting.

Great post! Brought back lots of memories, some of which I'd love to forget (or at least wish I could laugh at someone else going through them instead of cringing at myself).

Good luck with the next few years with Leah. You've got a strong foundation, so I'm sure, even if the house shakes a little, it won't crumble (and I don't know if all girls do this, but in my family, we girls fought like cats and dogs with my mother and always ran to my father for support and comfort).

Danny, You Jewish boys were just too wild. Good Catholic girls in NY never got kissed in middle school. Billy Joel tells NO LIES when he sings about Virginia. ;)

I still remember Owen, the cute blonde in sixth grade who always made me laugh. My first big crush was in 7th grade, another cute blonde with big blue peepers who was funny AND smart. We never hooked up but became great friends. We keep in touch and he's still funny and smart--a surgeon.

And the guy who gave me my first kiss in high school, the one I ended up dating for two years? Last month he Googled me, found my blog, and we're back in touch after, um, 27+ years. Let me tell you, that's been interesting.

Are you in touch with any of your kissing partners, Danny? Enquiring minds want to know.

V-Grrrl, I met up with most of them at my recent 30th high school reunion, including Rhonda Hellstrom (top row, in the red shirt), now a pediatrician with a bunch of kids. And I heard from Sandy Siegel last year who lives in Phoenix and has had quite an interesting life.

Larry, who were your two partners from the photo? I can name all 14, and know the whereabouts of all but two of them.

Heather, my sister is now insisting that I clarify that she did not say that we should move just our LIPS in a figure-eight pattern but our entire heads.

Pearl, I LOVED "The Waltons" and have written about them often but I can't really say it depicted authentic childhoods—well, it was may more realistic than "The Brady Bunch!" I do agree that "The Wonder Years" showed much more angst and awkwardness.

Danny, when was this picture taken? Either I don't recognize myself, or I'm not in it, but I can name just about everyone in it. I also remember all those "basement" parties and the kissing games! I have been reliving these games thru my boys, although the "lipstick" and "train" parties are all new to me. I keep telling them that I don't want to know what went on, but they tell me anyway. I know we used to do it, but it is so different hearing it from our kids! You have just brought back alot of memories! Don't worry about your daughter, I'm sure she is telling you the truth..right!?

Take care,

Just that picture of you, surrounded by those nubile, staight-haired adolescent girls is worth a million bucks.

Interestingly, my son hated Bridge to Terabithia (he saw it with my parents). Is it the preadolescent version of a chick flick?

Can someone enlighten me? I've never heard of Post Office! Then again, I was an ubergeek in school, so it's possible my entire class was participating in this game and just didn't fill me in.

Jen, I think the boys and girls went into separate rooms and then people from one group would enter the other room (the post office) individually and receive a letter (kiss) from everyone in there. Yikes, it sounds like a pre-pubescent orgy!

David, yes, I'd say "Bridge to Terabithia" has all of the earmarks of a chick flick even though the main character is a boy. That's why I was crying--I admit I love a well executed preteen chick flick!

Arlene, the photo is from my Bar Mitzvah. Some girls are cropped out but forgive me if you weren't invited! It's not a happy memory for me since my parents were in the middle of an ugly divorce at the time. But I look content in the middle of that gaggle of girls. (There were boys there too, but the photographer thought it would be cute to take a picture of me surrounded by "my girls.")

Danny, I thought thats what it had to be from, and I forgive you!! I had no idea you were going thru such a rough time with your parents at that age. You would never know it. I recognize everyone except the girl to your left in the white dress with the blue bow, and the girl to your right with short curly hair, is that Sandy? Great picture!! Thanks

I was a fat girl who mostly avoided the kissing parties... because I was a smart, hip fat girl, and I didn't want to suffer the humiliation that came either with being 'passed on' or being stuck with someone who was grossed out by being stuck with me.
Okay, I was a painfully self-hating fat girl.
Nonetheless, I managed to work my first kiss in at a party in 6th grade.
Oh, the kids today. It is so scary.
We learned everything we needed to from Judy Blume. Forever came out when I was in 6th grade, and it was her first foray into something more adult. Page 89 is indelibly etched into my once young brain.
Great post.

My youngest is going to be entering the sixth grade next year and she is walking the line between hanging on to her younger self and wanting to blossom to the next stage ... I want to be supportive in her transition, but I also want to cling on to the remnants of her pre-adolescent innocence. Brilliant post. Thank you, JP

I have to admit that I previously believed kissing parties to be an invention of television sitcoms! Now I'm wondering whether there really weren't any at my school, or I just didn't hear about them...

At any rate, most of my friends weren't doing any up close and personal figure eights until age 15 or so.

I'd heard about this rainbow stuff and can't tell you how glad I am to learn that the stories may have been overblown. (I swear I didn't plan that lewd pun. I must have an overactive subconscious! Still, I can't bring myself to rewrite it. :)

This really brought me down memory lane...7 minutes in heaven, hadn't thought of that in years. I used to have my two boy cousins come to our parties 'cos we needed boys but this girl who had the party would play in heaven all night and we, her friends, watched her from aother bed, when we weren't playing spin the bottle. Not too exciting.My daughter's friends didn't seem to have them either.(late'90s) I'm at another end of the spectrum of parental skills dealing with first love, 20 style. exciting and scary, as well. (pardon me but even this makes me so nervous that she'll read this and have a fit...a reason i haven't written in response to your other great posts about your family & passages,etc.)
and your writing made me definitely want to see the film.


You have brought back a flood of memories. I get such a kick out of reading your description of me at that age. You will be glad to know that under that cool self-assured exterior (was it really?) was a girl with sweaty palms and as many insecurities as anyone at those parties.

I am sorry to hear that you were going through such a hard time and that I was completely oblivious,especially since I considered you a good friend and a really nice person. The only excuse I have is that the self-absorption of youth is unriveled.

Your daughter is a very lucky young lady. I have decided to take my parents approach with my own children and remain blissfully ignorant.

You are a brave man. Although I'm not keen on genetic technology allowing people to choose eye and hair colour for babies etc etc, I do pray that any kids I have be male! Argh!

It's either that or a convent school in Zimbabwe.

Hi Danny,

I got a call from my 25 year old daughter, asking me if "Danny Miller" was my first kiss?". Huh? With time on her hands, she googled me and read your blog. I moved to the burbs' right after 6th grade, but I remember those parties fondly. I especially liked the one where we went to the wax museum (was it also Scott Whitcup's?) and were scared to death by the "real" wolfman. My kids are older now, but I know they have their own boy-girl party memories.

Ick! This is something I don't even want to think about. Granted, my baby won't be born for another two months and has a loooong way to go before she encounters this. But, as a parent, it's still something I want to keep her away from. Fortunately, for my parents (not necessarily for me), I was a complete nerd in high school and had no interest in dating. I went to parties but never participated in Spin the Bottle. Mostly because the thought of expressing myself intimately with someone scared the crap out of me. I mean, what if I turned out to be a horribly bad kisser? What if I had to kiss the grossest boy in school? Or worse yet, what if I had to kiss the most gorgeous boy in school who happened to be a really good kisser and I developed a crush on him for it? Oh no, I had no time (or interest) for a boyfriend, so I was going to stop it before it started.
Hey, maybe you'll luck out and Leah will be like me! Tho for her sake, I hope not. My first real boyfriend didn't come around until I was 19 and I felt very inexperienced and therefore insecure. Not to mention that I was his rebound. I think if I'd had more experiences in high school, I might have been able to handle him better. Or I might have just stayed away from him altogether (which would have been the better thing to do!).

My blog post on Pan's Labyrinth is at

This is a very interesting post. It certainly helped a lot of parents and I am sure a lot of them can relate to you. It's always nice to have something to help parents on how to explain the facts of life to their children. This is a great help to all parents in dealing with puberty and adolescence.

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