The names have been changed to protect the innocent
I was eleven when I had my first kiss. Eleven going on eight, as all boys are at that age, our childishness thrown into stark relief against the maturity of the girls in our class. Eleven going on sixteen as we faked our way to maturity.
There were a few of us who lived in the same area, played together in the streets and parks, visited parental homes on sunny holidays in a carefully coordinated route to get the most bang for our (invisible) buck. Some evenings we used to sneak into the local football ground through a gap in the fence. If you were careful, and avoided Dick the groundsman on his final rounds, you could get into the old stands. Long since bulldozed to the ground, even then it was a flaking concrete and rusted iron affair but we liked it cos you could swing or sit up on one of the bars. No seats were available back then (why do you think they called it a ‘stand’?) but it was a place to hang out.
Somewhere along the line, things started to change as we made invisible transistion from friends to boyfriends and girlfriends. Crushes were formed and lost, and getting off with someone was all part of the formative ritual soon captured in playground conversations.
“Have you got off with her yet?”
“Aye of course”, we all lied.
There was a hierarchy at play back then, an unspoken categorisation of the popular and not so popular and so it followed that the most popular boys and girls paired off, and the rest of us followed in their wake, frantically trying to catch up and ride the tailcoats of their burgeoning puberty.
And so it was that our little group found ourselves lined up at the back of that ramshackle old football stand, dusk slowly falling as we paired off. Alison and I stood facing each other. I can remember feeling nervous, feeling unsure, what if I did it wrong? And then she leaned towards me, eyes half-closed, and I followed her lead. Our lips met, our bodies touched as we moved closer. Weird butterflies in my stomach and some other stirrings further down kicked in.
The kissing style back then was a full on ‘this is how we saw it in a movie’ style, open mouthed affair. We had all heard tales of lockjaw, such was the longetivity and ferocity as we mouthed each other for what felt like hours on end. It was not romantic. Or subtle.
But ohhhh my god it was fun.
After that we were, kind of, tentatively, ‘going out’ purely because that way you always had someone to get off with when, inevitably, the sychronised moment arrived and we stopped talking and started kissing.
Playground conversations around that time veered between football, and teachers, and then snippets of conversation of ‘slipping the hand’ started to emerge. For the last few months of Primary School it seemed to descend into a free for all, almost as if we all realised that Secondary School was approaching and that was our last chance to claim innocence. Everyone was getting off with everyone else, especially when it came to birthday parties.
We didn’t have parties though, we had record nights. They were, literally, where you’d take your records (vinyl LPs and singles) to the party and take turns playing them. There would be the usual pre-teenage moments, those who were paired off could be easily spotted, with girls awkwardly sitting on boys laps, as we all waited for spin the bottle. Two circles were formed, two bottles spun and the chosen girl and boy pushed into a cupboard together with strict instructions that they had to get off with each other, no matter what.
These memories are blurry now, the crushes long gone and unrealised, but fond reminders of a happy time.