The first time I kissed a boy was in Geography class at school. We’d been swimming together with friends the weekend before, and he and I had flirted in the way that 13-year-olds do: by splashing each other and then rapidly swimming away, whispering to friends that we fancied each other and hoping those friends would understand their role as ‘messenger.’ I assume this is how most first kisses happen: friends are pivotal in their creation.
First kisses: touching lips
I’ve lost the memory of how he initiated that kiss. I know it was him who did it though – perhaps he passed me a note that read ‘will you go out with me?’. More likely, one of his friends whispered ‘my mate’s going to ask you out’ and I blushed. All I know is that at some point during that lesson, when the teacher’s back was turned, C scampered over to my desk and planted a sticky kiss on my lips.
The rest of this memory is fuzzy, but that part stands out – the stickiness. I remember savouring the rapidly-drying smudge of his spit on my lips, and thinking I’d finally made it.
This is it! I thought. I’m here! I’ve arrived! I have a boyfriend now! Never again will I be the unpopular girl who people ask out as a joke!
First kisses: snogs
The second of my first kisses was a different guy – S. And it probably fits a little better with what a first kiss is meant to mean: a full-on snog. Tongues and all! On the school playing field, behind The Big Tree, at the arse end of a lunchtime which made us both late to class.
I remember thinking at the time that snogs were so much wetter than I’d anticipated. Just… so wet! His tongue felt weird and sluglike against mine, and the swift-and-forceful movement of his jaw was so different to what I’d seen in films. I did my best to match his kiss – assuming that what boys wanted was for me to kiss the way they did. Eyes closed, tongue churning, an air of determination to reach a goal I did not yet understand.
So that was my first kiss kiss. It was fine. I went home proud of myself for having done The Snog. Got to First Base. Become a proper person, like my friends were.
I didn’t really like S himself – I found him a little creepy. Hyper-sexual and horny like teenagers so often are (like I was) – his intensity was as terrifying as it was compelling. I wasn’t the only girl who flirted with him in Maths class because I wanted the bright light of his sexual attention in a space where it couldn’t escalate beyond what felt safe: his hands under the desk; crude, silly drawings of stick people fucking jotted in the back pages of spare notebooks; expressions of half-formed lust. That stuff could truly be enjoyed, not feared, because the teacher was nearby and nothing would get out of hand. I did not like S, but he gave me something I needed and couldn’t put my finger on.
A few days after I kissed him, he spread the rumour that I was a terrible kisser. My tongue was weird and I tasted like cat food.
First kisses: making out
My third real kiss – the proper one – happened at this bit of scrap land where my friends and I used to hang out and get drunk. Half-bottles of vodka or cheap cider purchased by the tallest person who’d turned up that day, with a side order of Sovereign fags, which we smoked even though they made most of us feel quite sick. On that day, for some reason there were just four of us. My friend Amy, myself, S and S’s friend.
Are you wondering if I got off with S’s friend in revenge for the cat food comment? Haha. No. I got off with S. Despite the comment. Because – and I cannot stress this enough – I knew he’d say yes. There’s no risk, after all, in getting off with a girl you’ve already snogged, no matter how much you told people that you hated it.
That day, I nudged my friend Amy to take his pal away, and S and I made out against a tree in this little clearing for somewhere in the region of twelve thousand years. With no class to get to, and no audience to try and impress, we both just really went for it: weird tongues, spit-gallons, hands-up-jumpers and all. I felt him pressing himself against my crotch, hard as steel. He slipped one hand oh-so-slowly inside my bra and when he reached a similarly-steel-hard nipple I nearly fainted with lust.
Did I say to him, afterwards, ‘fuck you, you slagged me off to the whole school!’? Hell no. Did I berate him for poor behaviour? Lol. I didn’t say a single word about what he’d done: how humiliating it had been, or how miserable I was for weeks as I huffed breath into my own hand to try and work out where the ‘cat food’ comment had come from.
I was desperate to have him keep doing what he was doing: churning tongues and hands-up-jumpers and making me feel that kick of lust that I wanted to wallow in forever.
It’s not that I’d weighed up the pros and cons and decided humiliation was a price worth paying, it’s that when I’m horny for someone, I never consider the price. I want the delicious validation that comes from being desired, even if I’m just begging scraps of it from a boy who I know wouldn’t hesitate to hurt me for fun. I pop on my rose-tinted glasses and focus so hard on the good that the bad stuff passes me by.
Sex will always be joyful. Kisses will always taste sweet. And the man in my arms right this moment? He will always, always be kind.