Ever since I can remember I’ve been obsessed with boys.
They’ve occupied my waking fantasies and my dreams. I’ve created entire lifetimes with some of them, from marriage to kids to older age, their eventual death (they always pop it first in my imagination) and my subsequent toy-boy phase. The number of men I’ve become wedded to in my imagination is… a lot.
In real life, though, I’ve never been married. I’ve never even been proposed to. I have had relationships that could have ended in long-term commitment, but none have ever lasted. Unfortunately, it’s nearly always been me on the receiving end of the dumping. I’d say I’ve had more then my fair share of heartbreak and pain at the hands of men in my 35 years on earth, yet I keep on going back for more. I can’t seem to get enough of love.
My first kiss on the lips was behind a bush in the primary school playing field from a boy called Edward. He had masses of strawberry blonde hair and round, purple-rimmed glasses (way before Harry Potter made such lenses trendy). Edward later sang an a cappella rendition of Wet Wet Wet’s ‘Love Is All Around’ to me in front of the whole school at break time. It remains one of the most romantic moments of my life; that kid set the bar high for all who were to follow.
Sadly it wasn’t to last with Edward, as shortly after I lost my kissing virginity I was moved to a school in another town for Year Three. I soon made my mark in my new school by becoming part of the ‘cool’ gang of girls in my year. We were an awesome foursome who were fairly regularly pulled aside at lunchtime to be told off for bad behaviour. We knew we were cool, so naturally felt we were above the rules. Because we were cool, we pretty much had our pick of the boys.
In Year Five I was told off by a teacher for ‘teasing the boys’ after I dumped my boyfriend, Kyle, shortly after Valentine’s Day. It was a strange moment for me. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong by breaking it off; I felt I was being true to myself as I didn’t want to be his girlfriend any more. I now wonder if that teacher sowed a little seed that I should remain in relationships I was unhappy in to protect someone else’s feelings. Anyway, the truth was, unfortunately for Kyle, I had received a Valentine’s Day card from another boy I liked at school. This lad had accidentally signed his name at the bottom of the beautifully handmade card then taken great pains to scribble it out… but delivered it to me personally, thereby revealing his true identity. His attention to detail in drawing a multi-coloured love heart with felt tipped pens (no artist’s friend) had turned my head.
In Year Six, another boyfriend gave me a beautiful pair of silver heart-shaped earrings for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t have my ears pierced, as it turned out, so I promptly went off to the nearest hairdresser and got them pierced so I could wear the earrings… Except first I had to endure six weeks of wearing the ugly piercing studs, the daily torture of turning them in their holes so they didn’t scab over and regularly cleaning them with rancid-smelling saline solution. The things you do for love.
I’m sure you get the picture by now. Once I’d popped my kissing cherry, I couldn’t stop. Boys were on my radar from then on. It’s quite surprising I managed to work so hard at school and get decent grades, get into university and have an actual career, the amount of space boys have taken up in my brain and time they have taken up in my life. Sometimes I think I should just quit boys, and I have tried to go cold turkey a few times (particularly after bad break ups), but can’t seem to ever quite manage it.
If you don’t believe kissing is the most underrated form of sexual contact, you simply haven’t kissed enough people, or the right ones.
You could be having sex with someone and also thinking about what you need to pick up from the supermarket tomorrow, or just… waiting for it to be over. It’s not possible to do this when you’re kissing someone. Kissing requires engagement and attention. It’s a 50/50 activity. One does not simply receive a kiss, it requires participation on both sides. A really good kiss, the kind that makes your head spin and your knees go a little weak, is the sexiest thing two humans can do to each other.
So, let’s go back in time to my first proper kiss. The kind with tongues, the ‘French’ kiss (to this day I have no idea why we call it this), the pash.
It was Lotte’s 14th birthday party and we had all been invited to one of the village halls for a disco. Being one of the eldest in the school year, I had already turned 14 and up until this point in secondary school had not been particularly interested in boys (shockingly). Apart from a few short-lived holiday romances, I’d spent all my time with friends and working hard at school. I went to a single-sex secondary school, the internet hadn’t quite caught on yet, nor had mobile phones become mainstream, so contact with boys was severely limited.
But at birthday parties such as this one, the girls would invite boys in our year from the neighbouring boys’ school. These events were literally the highlight of the year for most of us. We’d know one or two of the lads from primary school or some other family connection, but largely it was a chance to stop and stare and decide which ones we were going to develop huge crushes on for the rest term. Or until the next party, at least.
For some reason I’d wanted an entirely new outfit for this particular party, and for some reason my mother agreed to take me shopping. We went to Tammy Girl, a brand sadly no longer with us, but in the 90’s a place that was the epitome of teenage fashion. That being said, when I picture the outfit I wore that night (and please, let me pray there aren’t actually any pictures in existence) I am filled with horror. I also cannot believe my mother allowed me to pick this up from the rack, try it on in front of her, and purchase it.
God only knows why I picked it out, but I wore a (tiny) white miniskirt and a (tiny) matching strappy and backless white crop top. I am a pale English girl and I did not have a tan. I can only think I’d seen Baby Spice in something similar and thought I could also pull it off. I had absolutely no boobs to speak of at age 14, so the skimpy top that was pretty much tied on by one string was not an issue. I can’t remember what month the party took place in but I’m pretty sure it was dark all evening – not the balmy summer’s evening you would hope for whilst essentially wearing a white bikini in public. I’d like to be able to say this was the most cringe-worthy thing I’ve ever worn, but unfortunately I once wore an imitation Ginger Spice Union Jack dress to a disco at the local college. With platform heels.
At some point during Lotte’s party, we all started playing Spin The Bottle. Yes, my first proper kiss was not even the result of pure lust between two youths; it was all down to chance. Not the romantic moment I had perhaps hoped for as a young woman. The bottle picked me, and a boy then laid out across the floor to take up half the circle so that, inevitably, the next spin would land on him. The all-white ensemble had at least caught someone’s eye (how could it not!).
I didn’t know this boy at all, I didn’t know his name, but all of a sudden we were kissing. I also probably hadn’t expected an audience of my entire school year during my first snog, but I had one. Once the kissing had started it didn’t stop for the rest of the evening. I did find out his name – Aidan – but his face has faded in memory now. I was told by the other girls he was one of the most popular boys in the year, so I guess that counts as an achievement as that sort of thing was very important as teenagers.
The kiss itself was your classic first stab at something which requires a level of nuance a randy couple of adolescents can’t possibly achieve. It was like two washing machines on a spin cycle smashing together. A lot of tongue, and a lot of saliva. The party began to wind down at some stage and we moved the kissing outside of the village hall while we waited for various parents to collect us. My friend’s Dad had come to pick up her and me, but the kissing was still ongoing upon his arrival. I distinctly remember hearing him joke: “We’re going to have to get a crowbar!” which was rather mortifying. Eventually we peeled our tongues off each other and went our separate ways.
I was elated; ecstatic. I had had a proper snog, with an actual boy, and he hadn’t seemed disgusted by my lack of technique or experience at all (always a worry at this age).
I’d like to be able to say I then went on to have my first proper teenage boyfriend, but things didn’t quite pan out like that for poor Aidan. He got hold of my phone number – I’m talking landline here as this was very much pre-mobile phones, even for posh kids like him. He called me on the landline one evening. I remember standing in the kitchen with the phone cord stretched as far away from my mother in the lounge as I could get and awkwardly chatting with him. He invited me to the pictures to see a movie – Final Destination. It was sweet, but I couldn’t go because I had a bit of a phobia of the cinema back then and I couldn’t bear the thought of trying to sit through a scary film with someone I didn’t really know.
Instead, we arranged to meet on the high street of town one afternoon. The time and place were appointed, with there to be no backing out last minute with a text as this was the olden days. I’d asked a friend to walk with me to the meeting place because I was so nervous. And also, to be completely honest, I couldn’t really remember at all what Aidan looked like as I’d spent the entire evening I met him with my eyes closed, snogging. I did turn up to the spot and I saw him waiting there, and I did an unkind thing.
As soon as I saw him I knew I didn’t really fancy him, and I couldn’t go over and pretend that I did, so I turned and ran. I stood the boy up. It was childish and cruel – but I was in fact a child. I didn’t know how you say to someone ‘Hi, thanks for arranging to meet me but I don’t want to snog you a second time, sorry, bye!’. I ghosted him way before ghosting had a name. In my defence, the all-white outfit I’d worn at our first meeting should have given him a hint that I was a 14-year-old girl who had no idea what she was doing.
At the end of the school year, Aidan’s family moved away and I never saw or heard of him again. I hope he lives a happy life, and I hope the next girl he kissed caused less trauma than I did. I’m relieved to say this is the one and only time I have stood someone up in my entire life. But I still feel bad about it, because I can easily imagine what a blow it would have been to a young boy on the cusp of manhood.
After the Spin The Bottle gods smiled upon me at Lotte’s party I went on to practice kissing with several more boys, before getting my first Proper Boyfriend… but that’s another story…