Tuesday, 11 January 2011

First kiss

I liked the First Kiss article in the Guardian today, it made me a bit wistful, because I did remember mine, and then it led me onto thinking about being 16 and 17, and how odd and frustrating and intense that was. Not that I'd actually want to be 17, obviously, you couldn't wish all that back, could you? Exhausting. I do remember my first"proper" kiss though. It was in the shadow of Dungeness power station, behind a tent, on a Natural History Society summer field trip, somewhere between the Fitter brothers' moth trap and the catering tent. I would have been, what, 14 maybe? Actually, I can work it out because it was a World Cup year (we sat together on the coach and watched matches on a tiny tv, I remember), so it must have been 1990. No! That would make me 15! Gawd, really? That is pathetic, and entirely in character. Before that I had several sort-of boyfriends (Danny, Sam, and ewwww Jim, who was more of a stalker than a boyfriend) who I tried not to touch at all if possible and tried to find ways to chuck after about 3 days of awkward hanging around with nothing to say to each other. I did not want to do kissing, or anything else for that matter. I think I found them completely repugnant because they weren't ponies; certainly they inspired me with nothing more than the desire to run away as far and fast as possible.

In contrast, the first kiss boy was a lovely chap, actually, and I have absolutely nothing bad to say about him whatsoever. The panicky "this is not a horse, get me out of here" feeling took over soon enough, but before it did, he was actually an excellent school boyfriend who was able to form sentences, did not have atrocious skin, and had a sense of humour. I was reminiscing about him only today before I even read the article, because Prog Rock has sent me a copy of my old school magazine, which features a photo of his sister's wedding and the bombshell that in 2010 he was crowned "Bird Brain of Britain". Obviously he kept up the natural history more assiduously than me, though if the subject were capybara mating I would still totally walk it.


After that there was my French exchange trip to Casablanca, organised via the Catholic Herald (which, events would prove, is NO guarantee of moral rectitude in the matter of language exchanges). My exchange partner was a beautiful, icily French model who had a boyfriend, ballet, and a modelling career to keep her busy, and precisely no interest in me (rightly so, I should think). She abandoned me entirely, which was the best thing that could possibly have happened, and I spent an entirely unsupervised fortnight being shown around (ahem) by the older brother of one of my exchange partner's friends. My three weeks in Casablanca was a strange, beguiling whirl of galloping arab stallions on sand dunes, staying in a riad in the medina in Marrakesh, driving along the coast to Essaouira, seeing the snow-covered tips of the Atlas mountains from desert roads, going to weird nightclubs, eating cornes de gazelle and riding around "Casa" with the lovely Karim listening to Prefab Sprout, and sex. It was amazing, truly transformative. There was a first kiss in his car, somewhere along the stormy seafront at night. Sigh. I came back hopelessly in love with everything French and North African (the Prefab Sprout thing passed more quickly) and probably horribly spoiled for most subsequent romantic encounters.

In return, poor Aurélie's fortnight with me involved a lot of trudging around the shops of York, and a couple of trips to the Clifton Moor multiplex cinema with me and a couple of my spotty, monosyllabic mates, who I remember stared at her like an escaped okapi wandering along Coney Street. We might have gone to someone's house and watched a video once. The trip culminated, triumphantly, in a rainy, muddy week in the wilds of the Lake District in a run-down farmhouse filled with academics. Those kind of holidays are an endurance test even when you are used to them, so I can barely imagine what they're like when you're used to driving your own jeep around Casablanca. All those terrible rural holidays blur into one another, but I think that was the holiday when my infant sister got a tic the size of a 50p piece, we found a dead mole one day and we played an awful lot of Racing Demon. Aurélie, I know, did a lot of gloomy solo rowing around the lake "pour la poitrine". I would imagine she has never set foot in England again. Ha.

Look, look at the two of us:



Finding this photo in my archives, I realise I wrote almost EXACTLY the same thing about Morocco on this post, almost EXACTLY two years ago to the day. Obviously January is "reminisce about Morocco" time, which has a kind of logic, I suppose, since being 17 in Morocco in the spring is definitely a more attractive prospect than being 36 in suburban Brussels in January.


Anyway. I came back to York after Karim and became almost immediately entangled with a student teacher who worked at Quaker school, which was thrilling and transgressive and eventually completely heartbreaking, in a seventeen year old way. I remember that first kiss terribly clearly, I'm not sure anything has ever topped it. I had been waitressing, and he left me a note in my study (pre-mobile phone! So romantic) asking me to meet him in the Black Swan pub (important York detail, for Yorkshire readers, the Black Swan is actually a quality, historical public house, unlike, for instance "The Stabber", which we also frequented. We had to go to pubs which weren't full of people from school. When he dumped me, I used to walk distraught around town from pub to pub, trying to find him). There had been a lot of flirting in the school darkroom, but nothing more, and I thought he was going to say that Nothing Must Happen. I don't remember anything much about what we said, but I remember walking home, still not quite sure what was going home, and him suddenly pushing me up against a lampost on Peaseholme Green and kissing me, and it being amazing. It was early summer, with that soft northern evening light and oh, the thrill. Man, it was brilliant, that summer. I can't say it was worth the year of moping and sorrow and bulimia that followed, but it was still brilliant. I was in droopy, besotted, seventeen year old lurve. Our relationship had to be secret of course (because DUH, it was completely inappropriate and he could have been sacked), so he used to leave me typed up slips of paper with snippets of Yeats poems in in my study and sneak me into his room in Quaker school at night. Basically, he finished off what Karim had started, by raising my expectations of romantic encounters in a ruinous and utterly unrealistic fashion. Now, of course, looking back, it all just looks WRONG. Ewww, what was he thinking? Fule. It was a great kiss though.

Hmm. Anyway. I agree with University of Texas researcher Sheril Kirshenbaum, I think, in her cunning piece of media friendly pseudo-science. A first kiss is a bit particular. Not important, or meaningful, or a sacrament, but .. something. Or maybe I was just lucky.


Go on, tell me yours.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

School disco. First year of secondary school. I wore a borrowed maxi dress. Laura Ashley number. His name was Roland. He kissed me. I fainted and had to be taken home in headmaster's car. It was all very Jane Eyre. I had another first kiss last year but it was a very special one and I'm not sharing it with the group...

Anonymous said...

Her name was Helen and it took me weeks to muster the courage to ask her out. Our first date was aborted due to snow: she lived about 8 miles away and her father couldn't bring her over.

She was actually present for the second, but it turned out I'd misread the cinema schedule and there wasn't a film on that night after all, so we sneaked into the underage-friendly wine bar and had a couple of drinks. The Snog happened as we were sitting on the cinema steps waiting for her father to come and take her home: it really was magic and lovely special, and I walked home like I had clouds strapped under my shoes.

A fair bit later we discovered The Sex, too, and after nearly 30 years Helen is still in my personal top three in that department.

NON-WORKINGMONKEY said...

1983, aged 14, at a paid-for party described as a "ball" at Madame Tussaud's, wearing a blue cotton Laura Ashley frock with mildly puffy sleeves. His name was Caspar and he was a very tall Etonian (oh the glamour!) with a gigantic nose. We both looked at least 25. He lived in Earl's Court with his sister and his vastly fat mother and was very nice. Anyway, I think he slipped his tongue in to 'Hold Me Now', which of course makes it a memory I shall always treasure.

Margaret said...

Had I only known about the sexy allure of 1980s-era Laura Ashley, it might have been sooner than Tawnee McQueen's underage party (the one where someone on the lacrosse team broke the front door). I was 16, and it was more like a Hey, oh, this is what French kissing is. I kind of like this! thing. After that, and before The Husband, there was one kiss, a long-anticipated yet out-of-nowhere one that made me...hum. It's been 20+ years, but, oh boy, I remember that.

Also, darling Emma? Screw you for getting to be 17 in freaking Morocco! The highlight of my 17th year? My 11th-grade English class going to see Rex Smith and Linda Ronstadt in Pirates of Penzance on Broadway. We took a school bus. It could not possibly have been more suburban. If it weren't for our vastly superior domestic plumbing and the Electoral College, I would hate being American.

Waffle said...

Stop complaining, Margaret, it was all downhill from there. The student teacher took me to his family home in DONCASTER (being American this will not resonate with the full horror it does for an English person). And my first date with the CFO was at a builder's merchants.

I am impressed by your first kisses. You are as pathetically sappy about them as me. Good, good.

Anonymous said...

What was probably about to be my first kiss at the age of 13 (at a school disco at the end of my first year of secondary education) was averted by the fact that I suddenly realised that my (at the time very irregular) period had come right in the middle of the first slow song and before the very shy boy in question had had the courage to try any approximation of lips. There I was, locked in an extremely awkward embrace, heart pounding, blushing like mad, wearing (of course, cruel universe being as it is) white trousers and a short (paisley patterned) top.
I broke away from him mumbling an excuse about my dad coming to pick me up or something, ran to the bathroom and agonised about how I was going to be able to walk out of the school gym with blood-stained white trousers when all the lights came on at the end of the disco....
No mobile phones in those days to ask my dad to pick me up early. Most of my friends hadn't even got their periods so there was nobody to ask for supplies. Of course there were no sanitary towel machines in the toilets of a rural secondary school in Ireland in the late 1980s. There were also no female teachers supervising the disco that night. I was too shy to approach an older girl to ask for help. Anyway, like anything related to sex, menstruation was totally taboo. I can't remember how I managed to walk out, probably very awkwardly and with my back to the wall.
As for the boy, we never spoke again. We mutually ignored/ avoided each other from then onwards. He was probably utterly mortified at my having run away in mid-embrace, just as he was plucking up the courage to take the next step.
It was probably the hormonal surge that caused it, the shock at being asked to dance when the slow set came on...either that, or God striking me with a lightning bolt so as to postpone my initiation.
Being thirteen is no picnic, that's for sure.
anon.one

puncturedbicycle said...

Oh, how sweet!

Mine was very wet and sloppy, accompanied by 8-track tape (oh if only I could remember what was playing) and not at all a temptation to explore further, er, possibilities. He was with my longstanding best best friend, who later became obsessed with the music of Yes, so if the kiss hadn't put me off him, his musical taste would surely have knocked it on the head.

Ann said...

Mine was aided by lerchers & whippets, oh yes! A dog walking friend (the glamour!), a boy from the local grammar school who was very cute, and whom I'd met whilst walking my lercher & he had a whippet. We snogged for hours in the bushes in the park between our houses, whilst forgetting all responsibility to smallish creatures who had a tendency to bolt. 8th June 1995, making me a not unrespectible 15 years old. Dog walking was never so much fun, until he cast me off, not even bothering to dump me, just, you know, ingnoring me. The shame! And my school friends thought I was making him up because he was from a different school.

I can also remember first kissing my husband, on the sweaty dancefloor at an indie/retro night, 8 years ago, and knowing he was a good 'un when he kissed me infront of all our collective friends. A good kisser. No racing dogs involved this time, just lots of odd dancing and pose striking.

Kelly said...

enough about the kiss, the pic is priceless!

Siobhan said...

Lovely post.

My very first ever proper kiss was the day before my fifteenth birthday party. The boy in question had got the times mixed up and stayed an hour late at my party as he had to wait for his mum to pick him up.

He was a foot taller than me so I was stood on a skateboard and wearing my brand new high heeled shoes (a first in my mother allowing heels) so I could reach.

"She makes my nose bleed" by Mansun was playing (if you know what that song is about you will know how innapropriate it was) we were together on and off for two torturous years but that kiss was pretty cool.

My first kiss with my lovely M was if anything more exciting. We had met once and become friends. In the weeks leading up to it we had been emailing lots about relationships and stuff and I had been trying my best to flirt outrageously by textmessage (surprisingly hard). I got very drunk and told him outside Inverness Castle that the list of men he said would be wanting me now I was single was rubbish if he was not in it.

He then waited ten whole minutes to kiss me as he wanted to enjoy the moment. And it was pretty magical, even if it ended up being a kiss inside a hotel room rather than in front of Inverness Castle (more romantic setting I think)

I'm all soppy and happy now. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

In the front seat of a beaten-up Landrover, in the car park of the Fishes pub in Oxford. I was 18 (which I think makes me rather older than the average) and had been quietly obsessing about the boy in question for about a year and a half. My immediate conscious thought was something along the lines of "Ohmygod he's eating me". Not the most romantic or glamourous encounter, but at least it was a start.

CAD said...

I agree with Kelly, the look you are giving Amelie is priceless!

Decades of regret said...

Yes, that picture is glorious.

It looks like you're re-enacting a scene where delicate & sensitive era Lady Di goes on an awkward first date with page 3 stunna(TM) Linda Lusardi.

I was not-quite-13 for my first kiss. He was a 15yr old small-time drug dealer who tasted distressingly of smoke and coffee.

I shouldn't have been surprised when the next day he stole my brother's VHS copy of Tom Hanks vehicle Big.

It sounds cooler than I remember, written down. But I still can't watch that film.

indigo16 said...

My first kiss was a shambolic fumble at a second year house party; you know when all the lights go off and...not pretty. I too have snogged a teacher in York it must be the water.
I do wonder if we may have met in the Spread Eagle, I was mostly the one on the floor having consumed too many pints of Merry Down Under The Table..

Elsie Anderton said...

I went to a Moravian school in Yorkshire, much like your Quakers but with booze I suppose. Our school was a girls only, but there was a boys school next door. We were separated by God (literally by the church) and a 10m no-mans land that ran between the girls and boys gardens. My first kiss (age 14) was the result of months of flirting across two fences and the no-mans land. This flirting was all coy eyes, blushing and whispering - or as much of those things that can happen when your separated by 10m of dirt track and wooden fence.
To get the first kiss we had to break school rules by creeping into the no-mans land (no mean feat with the tweed clad Miss Trunchbull-esque teacher on the prowl), run to the bottom of the dirt track into the farmer's field at the bottom. Was worth it though and I didn't get caught. I remembering pretending that I was red from the exertion of running, but really it was from unconfined joy. x

samaryd said...

I'm ashamed to say I don't remember my first kiss, but I do remember the first one with my first proper boyfriend. I was 3 weeks off 17 (a convent-educated late developer) and I'd met him in French A level class at 6th form. We were sitting on the floor in his bedroom, listening to 'Watermark' by Enya, and ended up having a full-on snog when 'River' started. I'm a bit misty-eyed at the memory... Anyway, the reason I remember it so vividly was that my head was against his radiator and I had to pull away because I was getting burned on the head. Not sure it was a metaphor for future encounters...

Anonymous said...

Summer day camp at around age 8 or 9 was my first 'french' kiss. A boy named Jason (who always seemed to have a ring of kool-aid around his mouth) and I had been holding hands and giving each other pecks since we were babies and on this day we were left alone, sitting under a tree. It was hot and sunny. We decided to go for it, try it out, and proceeded to have the most awkward kiss in the history of kisses, after which he threw up in the bushes. I was mortified. It took years for me to get up the nerve to try it again, and thankfully that boy did not vomit.

Candace

The Lissst! said...

Nice Blog.
I don't even remember my first kiss. Probably because I was so focused on grabbing a boob I forgot the actual kissing.

Anonymous said...

my first proper kiss (Im using the criteria of tongues) was at the stupidly young age of 10, in the school playground. We had been holding hands and being boyfriend and girlfriend for a long time (like 2 days!) and decided to have a grown up kiss. Well I liked it and felt so proud that I was grown up after that moment. Unfortunately it was the fashion to "snog" around that time and a school wide ban on snogging swiftly followed.
I didnt kiss anyone again for 6 years after that! I went off to a girls school and was always too self conscious round the boys I did meet.
Interestingly I have since made contact with my first kiss boy and honest truth - hes gay!

lesleyr said...

In the hallway of my older cousin's house,pressed uncomfortably against a bumpy artex wall, I could taste ready salted crisps and cigarettes. My cousin was 15 and vastly more knowledgeable and experienced with boys. I was just shy of 13 and quite taken aback that a 15 year old boy with a motorbike had looked twice at me. It was a pretty poor effort to be honest, swift and uncomfortable and I giggled throughout; probably very off putting for the poor lad. With hindsight I can say that I was too young for boys, and it was almost two years later before my snogging career really took off with my first proper boyfriend.

72suburbs said...

Behind the cafegymatorium at my high school, a few days after my 16th birthday. It was windy, really windy, so my overwhelming memory is the image of palm trees blowing against a blue sky. (California, you know.) Not bad.

Also, that picture of you and Aurélie is perfect. What an illustration.

Anonymous said...

My first deliberate kiss was around age 9 or 10 with third grade classmate Dean P., on whom I'd had my eye for a while. We went to the movies (Saturday matinee with his mother, who drove, sitting two rows behind us), held hands and, under cover of darkness, had a close-mouthed smooch.
Fast-forward nearly 40 years and my daughter had HER first kiss, also with a third grade classmate.

I actually do NOT remember the first kiss that absolutely curled my toes. (We did an awful lot of "practicing" at parties in search of THE "one".) And sometimes the passion was more in the moment than in the man....er...boy.
I have used kissing to determine whether or not a budding relationship had a future as anything more than "friends". Sloppy kissers just didn't make the cut.
Oh God, I sound like such a slut!

Pat (housebound with a sh*t cold in Belgium)

PS I can't believe I can't remember! At the time I know I said I'll never forget "this" and -- POOF! Gone!

wv knoredw

Alison Cross said...

I'm not sure that I remember my first kiss to be honest.

I DO recall being asked up for a slow dance at a church disco by the lovely Michael whom I had fantasised about for WEEKS and when our lips locked he transformed into the 1970s version of a Dyson and nearly sucked my lungs out.

I suspect it might have been his first kiss too.

soleils said...

That photo of Aurélie and you is mesmerizing. How could you even cope with her? Gawd... she looks like hard work. Well, imagine my shock today when, walking down Wigmore St in London, I happened upon a poster in a shop window (some beauty salon, I think) of this person

http://www.jonathanwilliamssalonandspa.com/

Is this her, do you think, E? Maybe, after much seaweed-based pampering. I think it might be, which slightly freaks me out, because what are the odds of me reading your blog entry, seeing that photo and the next day, seeing an advert showing that very girl? Weirdness.
But then again, I am probably imagining things.

irretrievablybroken said...

Are we talking first botched kiss, or first good kiss?

The latter I don't remember, truth be told (though I bet I could narrow down the suspects to a half dozen.) The former? Oh. I'd snuck out, and he was much shorter than I, and I was not particularly tall at the time. It was my last night in the town in Colorado where I'd spent my jr. high years. He stood on a curb and stuck his tongue unceremoniously into my mouth. I never saw him again, though I fantasized about him all summer, and I'm not sure he even wrote me a letter, though I know I wrote him several (did I mail them? I think pride prevented) while listening to "The Wall" on my tiny cassette player.

Persephone said...

I'm distracted from memories of my first kiss (best forgotten - much like many of your readers, but without the vomiting) by two mysteries:

1)How did you slip back in time to befriend Claudine Longet?

2)How come you are mysteriously appearing on my Facebook profile as a "friend suggestion"? It's a bit creepy -- not the suggestion, but that Facebook has somehow figured out we've been in touch. I write under a pseudonym and have only contacted you through an alternate email server that doesn't give my real name.

So I'm doubly spooked.