The first girl I ever kissed on the mouth was named Vered, which is also the name of a flower in Hebrew. It was a long kiss. If it had been up to me, it would have gone on forever, or at least until we got old and shriveled and died, but Vered stopped it first. We were both quiet for a minute, and then I said thank you. She said, “You’re totally fucked up.” And after another short silence, she added, “That ‘thank you’ is such a turn-off, you know? We kissed, the two of us, it’s not like I’m some old aunt who brought you a present for the holiday.” And I said, “Don’t be mad, it was just a thank you.” And she said, “Shut up, okay?” So I shut up. I didn’t want to piss her off, the first girl who ever kissed me. I just wanted to make her feel good, but I didn’t know how. She didn’t talk either, just looked at me a little, and then unbuckled my belt and started to blow me. Just like that, out of the blue, in the middle of the hall in her parents’ apartment. They were out. I still kept my mouth shut. I already knew that I didn’t know how to act at times like that, so I tried to do as little as possible.
After she blew me, we fucked on the plastic-covered living room couch. After I came, we waited a few minutes and fucked again. She didn’t come, not the second time either. She said it was okay, that she never comes, but that she likes it anyway. Then she said she was thirsty, and I brought a glass of water from the kitchen for both of us. “This is your first time with a girl, eh?” she said, and stroked my face. I nodded. “That’s really kinda cool,” she said. “That ‘thank you’ was totally…in another second, I would’ve thrown you out of here. But the fact that it’s your first time is really kinda cool.”
“My mom always says that ‘thank you’ are the only two words in the language that can never hurt,” I said.
“So let your mom blow you,” Vered said and smiled, and I thought: what a day. My first kiss. My first blowjob. My first fuck. All on the same afternoon and all slightly miraculous. I was nineteen then, a soldier, which is late for a first kiss, maybe even for a first blowjob. But I felt lucky. Because even if it took time, it had finally happened, and with a nice girl who had the name of a flower.
Vered said she had a boyfriend. She didn’t tell me before we kissed because a kiss is no big deal, even if there’s a boyfriend, and she didn’t tell be when she blew me because my prick was in her mouth. Anyway, when she finally did tell me, she also said that she hoped I wasn’t offended or anything, because I look a little too sensitive. I told her that I was surprised, but not the least bit offended. Just the opposite, the fact that she had a boyfriend and slept with me was even a little flattering. She laughed and said, “Flattering is a big word. I have a boyfriend, but he’s a shit, and you…right from the first kiss I felt you were a virgin, and what can you do, there’s something cool about a virgin.”
She told me that when she was kid, her parents used to send her to camp during vacations, and at camp, after supper, the counselors used to toss giant bags of chips into the air and everyone tried to grab them in mid-air. “You have to understand,” she said while stroking the five hairs that had grown on my chest, “there were enough chips for everyone, and we knew that, but there’s nothing like that feeling of ripping open the bag and being the first one to eat from it.”
“So now that I’m open,” I said in a slightly choked voice, “I’m not worth anything anymore?”
“Don’t exaggerate,” Vered said, “but let’s just say that you’re worth a little less.” I asked her when her parents were coming back, and she said not for another hour and a half at least. I asked her if she would agree to have sex with me again, and she slapped me. Not really hard, but enough to hurt, and said, “Don’t say ‘agree’, say ‘want,’ you retard.” And after a second of silence, she said, “You’re like a camel, eh? You think that when you leave here there’s a desert waiting for you outside, and who knows when you’ll find water the next time.” She took my prick in her hand and said, “Don’t worry. It’s not a desert. Everyone fucks in this world and everyone’ll keep fucking. Everyone. Even you.”
After we fucked again, she walked me to the door, and after she opened it, she said, “If you meet me by accident at a falafel place or in the movies or at the mall with my boyfriend, don’t pretend you don’t know me, okay? I hate when people do that. Just say hello, the kind of hello you say to someone you know from the scouts, okay?” I asked her if we could see each other again, and she stroked my face and said I shouldn’t be offended, but she can’t because of Asi and everything. From that, I understood that her boyfriend’s name was Asi.
I didn’t plan to cry, but I did, and she said, “You, you’re not from this world. I never met anyone as weird as you.” I told her that I was crying with happiness, but she didn’t believe me. “It’s not a desert out there,” she told me. “You’ll see, you’ll fuck your head off.”
I never saw her again after that. Not in the movies. Not at a falafel place. Not at the mall. But if she ever happens to read this story, I’d like to thank her again.
Etgar Keret is an Israeli writer and filmmaker. He is the author of The Nimrod Flipout, The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God & Other Stories, and Suddenly, a Knock on the Door and others. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The The Paris Review, and The New York Times, among many other publications, and on This American Life, where he is a regular contributor.
Translated by Sondra Silverston
Illustration by Jillian Salas.