"I don't want our first kiss to be some sloppy slobber job in the parking lot of the Mall," I had said the first week we were dating. "I want it to be somewhere special that's worth remembering." I had enough girlfriends in the past to know that usually, the first kiss is more underwhelming than the movies imply it should be. I was painfully aware that I had kissed other girls, and I could hardly remember with any of them when the first occasion had taken place. Kristah was unique and I didn't want to tumble unintentionally into our first romantic encounter without thought.
“Yeah, let’s make it somewhere exotic,” she agreed.
“How about underwater?” I offered with enthusiasm.
“I don’t think I want to get into a swimming pool in February,” she countered.
"We could make out while riding a bike," I tried. We both laughed at the notion. It was creative, but we'd probably both end up toothless and brain-damaged. I tried another, "Maybe in a cave." I knew as soon as I said it that there were no cavers anywhere nearby.
“Maybe up high.”
"Yeah, I like it," I said, already knowing what I would do.
I had often spent my afternoons wandering the lonely places among the pine forest my house was cozily nestled against. I usually carried a machete through the foliage, cutting trails in the brush when the path became confounded. I had grown up in the woods, and this was where I felt comfortable. I spent more hours among the trees than I did among people. The trees were quiet in contrast to the noisy thoughtless city. This magical land was where I would stage our romantic rendezvous.
I picked out a tall Texas Live Oak which offered a grand contrast against the more common pines. It shot up against the deep blue sky like a scraper, splitting into two extensive sections about twenty feet up the trunk. The branches above fanned out like the giant skeleton of an umbrella. In the spring, no doubt, it was the image of virility. In the winter months, as it currently was, it had eerie barrenness that somehow attracted me.
Over the next few days, I hauled lumber into the woods behind my house—woods which I didn't own. I am no carpenter, so what I would build would not be a work of constructional genius. It would be simple and unassuming, maybe even a little redneck. I began with steps up the trunk. Next, I would attach pulleys for lifting my supplies. Each day I would gather more materials for the task. Being a grown man, I knew it would seem strange for anyone to see what I was doing. That is why I chose a tree far from sight, but I'm sure the hammer strikes could be heard through the residential properties nearby.
I used an old billboard banner that my brother gave me, probably from one of his advertising agencies' campaigns. It became the roof. An unmatched assortment of boards would be nailed into a zigged floor pattern. It was outfitted with oil torches and a loose set of rails made of yellow nylon rope. To call the thing a treehouse would not be entirely accurate. It was more like a nest for humans in a tall tree.
When it was done, I couldn't wait to bring Kristah to see it. It would be a surprise since I had not told her what I was doing.
When the day finally came, I was sick. It wasn't bubonic bad, but I didn't feel well. Nonetheless, I was too eager to introduce Kristah to our new make out treehouse. Fever notwithstanding, I walked her along the trail that began at my back door. By now, the evening sky was deepening into the dusky shadows of night. I had the torches blazing like little suns in the nascent hopes of the approaching darkness.
She gripped my arm tight when she first laid eyes on what I had done—more precisely—what I had done for her. She knew what it meant. It had been weeks since we had spoken of our desire to make our first kiss memorable. This would be remembered down the corridors of wherever our lives would take us. The amber glow that illuminated the tree haven danced across our faces as I showed her to the first step. Smilingly she glanced down as she ascended the trunk toward the towering treetop perch.
Shortly I followed, not wanting to miss the view. We kissed. True to our wishes, it wasn't a sloppy affair, but classy and appropriate. It was the kind of first worth remembering. We reclined in our treetop home, for a few hours after the sun went down, enjoying the cool breeze. Long after the torches had extinguished and our hands had grown too cold and clumsy for the fine fingered finesse of romantic interplay, we climbed out of the tree and went in.