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She was sixteen, which was three years my senior. I had met her brother first and he was about the same age I was. I don't remember the brother's name but hers was sin. Actually, it was Cynthia, but everybody called her Cyn for short. Let's call Cyn's brother Cynbro. The homophone "sin", for her name, wouldn't occur to me until much later. She was a nice girl and treated me well. Camping out with Cyn and her brother (and Terry, more on him later) was to become a rite of passage for me.

I was spending a long weekend with my grandparents on their houseboat and we had docked at a park on Puget Sound. It was apparently only accessible by boat and there were only a couple of other boats docked there. Cyn and Cynbro's parents owned one craft and Terry's folks the other. Cynbro and I hit it off right away and he told me they were going to camp out in the park that night, just the kids, would I like to join them? It would be a lot of fun, he said. I asked my grandparents and they, after consulting with the other guardians, gave their blessing. I was pretty excited and before very long we three trooped up the ramp that connected the dock with terra firma. Terry had something else he had to do and would join the camping expedition later.

The details of that night are not clear but we had a campfire and sleeping bags and some time alone, just us kids. At some point Cyn was sitting next to me, both of us facing the campfire and she asked me if I knew how to French kiss. I admitted my ignorance and she spoke highly of it. She was pretty and I was curious and willing enough. She was sweet and patient and I was completely absorbed by this discovery. In seconds I didn't know who or where or when or what, only the experience. It was my first drug experience and there were no drugs involved. It isn't exaggeration to say that I didn't know if we kissed for minutes or days, but at some point we decided to turn in for the night. After we got into our sleeping bags, Cyn asked me if I'd like for her to join me in mine. I said I would and the kissing began again. We were fully clothed and the kissing and closeness was enough.

At some point, I'm not sure when, Terry (remember Terry?) had joined our group of adventurers. Terry was a little older than me, but still not as old as Cyn. I hadn't really noticed him very much but she, it seems, had. She, very politely, excused herself from our embraces and kisses and from my sleeping bag. She would now join Terry in his. Mine, now, felt suddenly very cold and empty, and before long I heard Cyn rebuffing Terry's advances. It seems he was less satisfied with just kissing.

Not much sleeping, if any, was done that night. The morning came and Cynbro and I went off to the shore to swordfight and beachcomb and do what thirteen year old boys do. I remember seeing Terry and Cyn sitting on the concrete steps that led down to the beach. Cynbro and I tried to tease them but they were having a serious conversation and were not going to be bothered by kids.

I didn't forget that night and the experience it occasioned. But it was a glimpse only. Looking back now, what strikes me is her kindness. At the time, it was the physical experience that I was focused on, but I missed a more important lesson. How you treat people matters.

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