The First Time Transcript

A note about this transcript: The Moth is true stories told live. We provide transcripts to make all of our stories keyword searchable and accessible to the hearing impaired, but highly recommend listening to the audio to hear the full breadth of the story. This transcript was computer-generated and subsequently corrected through The Moth StoryScribe.

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George Dawes Green: This is a great privilege and a great honor for me because The Moth really exists because of this man. Because when I started, you know, years ago I was in Georgia and I was sitting on a porch with my friends and blah, blah, blah, and we had the moths zipping around and I thought, "OK. We're going to have a Moth Group here." Somehow, I began to think I can bring this to New York. But I started to get afraid that I might not be able to actually present it in New York because in New York people get a little antsy about stories. And then I saw this movie, "My Dinner with Andre," which is just— is it two hours long?  It's just, I don't know how long it is, but it's just a movie with nothing but this man telling stories. And it is a riveting, fascinating movie. And that was the inspiration—we realized we can do this. So, I would like to introduce to you the star of that movie and many other movies, and a brilliant director, Andre Gregory. 


Thank you. Thank you for that lovely introduction. Does this go down a bit?  Or should it?  Can you see my face?  My eyes?  Is that alright? Well great. Thank you, thank you very much. 

I thought tonight, I would tell you a story about the first time that I fell deeply, deeply in love because everybody here can identify with falling in love. If my wife, Cindy, will forgive me because actually every day with her is like the first time. That's the miracle of it.  The very first time, when I was in college, I fell in love with a woman who looked very much like Katy, actually [Katy Rose Cox was the musician and timekeeper for the show].  And I'm not just saying that—I'm really not just saying that so you won't play the violin. But she was, she was beautiful and tall. She was a brunette. She was just a little bit different and, but I think before telling you the story—her name was Ina—I think before telling you the story, I need to tell you so you'll understand the story, just a little bit about my childhood.  

Now I may have asked this question before, but how many of you have seen "The Shining?" Right. Well, that was a documentary about my childhood. I'm not kidding. This is true. This is true. I was never touched, kissed, or hugged. Ever. I kid you not. I was brought up by nannies, in fact the first nanny I had was a German who hated little babies who cried. So, she put Seconal in my milk.  And my mother and my grandmother knew very little about children. But after I'd been sleeping for twenty-six hours, they figured that something must be wrong with me. So, they took me to the American hospital in Paris and they pumped my stomach. And they like to laugh a lot about the fact that for about a year afterwards I would kind of, you know, do a few steps and then I would just kind of fall down and go to sleep.  And I would always think of my parents, God bless them, sort of as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. But you know, we've all had difficult parents. But the nice thing about growing older is you learn to forgive and to realize that they were just human beings like us and they made their mistakes. But it's important for this story that you know that I was never touched, hugged, or kissed, right?  

So I fell in love with Ina.  She was at Radcliffe and I was at Harvard and it just never occurred to me that a beautiful, really intelligent, wonderful woman could love me, you know?  So, we went out to breakfast and lunch and dinner and we went to courses together and we'd go out and we'd talk about Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard, you know. But I would have never thought of touching her because why would she ever love this sort of strange monster that was me?  And this went on for months. I think she thought I was gay. I was just madly in love with her, but I would have just never ever thought of touching her. And one night when we'd been going out for two months but there was never anything romantic about it, we went out to this very beautiful graveyard in Marblehead, Massachusetts.  The graveyard was kind of appropriate because her father was the largest casket manufacturer in America. That's true, he was (Bachmann) Caskets.  And it was a beautiful moonlit night and I guess she got so frustrated that she suddenly just grabbed me and quite passionately kissed me.  And I fainted. This is true: My knees gave way and I fainted. And we went out for a couple of months afterwards. It got a little romantic and then, it's a sad story because I went to pick her up one night at her dorm and she'd completely disappeared. She never got the nerve to tell me that she was engaged to a Marine captain in Korea. And she went home to tell her parents that she wanted to marry me and get out of this wedding and her father said, "You better talk to your mother."  

And her mother said, "You know, we've got the gifts. We've got the tent. We've got the orchestra. All girls go through this. Everyone's nervous before a wedding." 

 So, she married somebody else. And I was deeply, deeply depressed. Now, the amazing thing about the first time of anything, but especially when you fall in love, is that there never is anything quite like it because literally twenty-five years later, I was at Elaine's for a New Year's Eve party.  And I'd been married for I think twenty or twenty-five years. And suddenly, in walked Ina. And my heart started to pound.  And, and my mouth went dry and I couldn't think of anything to say. And we sat opposite each other, you know, at this big table with all these people. And there was music and all night, I kept thinking, "Oh, if only we could have one dance."  You know, I hadn't seen her in twenty-five years. And just as the evening was over she came over and she said to me, "Would you like to dance?" 

 And we started to dance. And we started to dance cheek to cheek and at the very end of the dance just very, very delicately, she kissed me on the lips, and I fainted.  This is true. This is really true.  The power of love is an amazing thing. But I think that there's a lesson to the first time. Because we've all of us experienced an extraordinary first time in something or in many things. Our first creative success. The first time that we've fallen in love.  The first time we were naked in front of a human being.  The first time is an amazing thing. And it never happens again. When it's happened that first time, it's never quite the same thing again. But the lesson, the lesson which is a, I think, a deep spiritual lesson, is in our lives to try to make every single thing we do, the first time. Every encounter we have, the first time. Every meeting we have, the first time. Every time we see a stop light turn green or turn red, to look at that light with the eyes of a child and the eyes of wonder. And in that way, from moment to moment and from day to day, we can all be in a state of ecstasy, fear, wonder, and amazement. And that is what it is to be truly alive.  

Thank you.