I read Marie Rebelle‘s brave and poignant “So Many Firsts” blog post and it got me thinking….I guess there’ll always be new firsts to encounter, but when it comes to what separates the ‘only-once’s from the ‘it’s a habit’s and the ‘last time’s, things get a lot more complicated. This came out as more of a stream of consciousness than having any particular point to make but it was therapeutic for me to write it and so I hope you’ll bear with me for sharing.
I spent far too many of my teenage years chasing ‘first’ experiences just to get them ticked off the unwritten lists by which teenage girl’s measure their social status. This unhealthy attitude produced predictably unhappy results – I am ashamed to confess that looking back, I used boys (and girls) as puppets in my box-ticking mission without as much consideration of their feelings as I should have had. That’s not to say I ever coerced or deceived anyone into intimate contact but I was definitely sometimes a bit of a bitch afterwards. In my defence, I couldn’t bring myself to believe that anyone would be interested in me for any reason other than sex, so those were the terms I mostly dealt on.
By Year Nine, I was the only one of my friendship group to have never yet played tonsil-hockey with a lad and I was starting to feel as though there must be something wrong with me. The only boys I knew socially were my friends’ boyfriends (and thus off-limits, of course). I was desperate to demonstrate that I wasn’t some revoltingly undesirable Frog Princess – and just as desperate to get my hands on some real-life, bona fide action.
So, my first snog was at a party where I grabbed the first unattached lad I could find, and invited him to stick his tongue down my throat (an offer which he accepted with enthusiasm, fortunately). I didn’t particularly fancy him – I didn’t even know him. He was just the next lily pad to hop to across the great pond of life…..so I jumped.
Considering that we were both fourteen-going-on-fifteen, I doubt his experience was all that much more advanced than mine, but despite the clumsiness of adolescent fervour and the blurring effect of a considerable amount of cheap beer (him) and Archers peach schnapps (me), we managed to keep each other entertained until the parents started arriving to extricate and collect their wayward offspring. Luckily, I was being picked up along with a friend by her Mum, so I was spared the embarrassment of being found snogging on a sofa with some randomer by my own rather strict and strait-laced folks.
I remember the boy’s name (redacted for obvious reasons!) and his then-fashionable pudding-basin haircut. I don’t remember which school he went to but I do recall that his mouth tasted of beer and his t-shirt smelled of Lynx Africa, and how goddamn good his hands felt as they roamed across my neck and shoulders.
Mouths locked together, lips pressing and opening, tongues exploring….. oh, I was lost in the sensations. I didn’t fancy him, but I was enjoying him as much as the circumstances allowed.
I remember that this was the first time I had ever been so turned on in the company of a member of the opposite sex and how I worried that my heavy breathing and moans of abandonment would cause him to think I was some kind of sex-crazed slut. (I am, of course most definitely a sex-crazed slut and I’m happy to own that shit these days but attitudes to female sexuality were a lot less enlightened when I was a schoolie and we walked a taut tightrope between being labelled ‘frigid’ and branded with a scarlet letter).
I remember that he distributed a number of love-bites (‘hickeys’ for those across the pond) around my neck, and being later puzzled by the reaction of others who evidently felt that I should have been annoyed or ashamed at their imposition. I had loved getting those marks. The intimacy, the hot wetness of his mouth on me, the edge of pain as he sucked and bit my skin – it got me as soaking wet as a Bank Holiday Weekend at the time and still does whenever the experience is repeated (although these days I’m careful to ensure the marks are made in less-visible locations). What he thought he was achieving by making those marks, I have no idea – and have never given any thought to before writing this post. Perhaps it’s just what he thought a chap was obliged to do in those circumstances. Maybe he was marking territory in some way, although that seems to be a pointless manoeuvre in retrospect, as I never actually saw him again after that evening. I’d like to think it was my reaction – all the “ohhhh” and “mmmm” and “god yes….” I moaned into his ear, that spurred him to feast so lusciously on me, but I guess I’ll never know for sure.
I went home that evening in a flushed frenzy of sexual arousal and was wholly unprepared for the confusion and shame I was to experience over the next few days. Teenage girls are fucking bitches, man. First snog, only now?! With him?! And ewww, love bites, gross! You must have been well drunk! He must have thought you were a right slag!
I only wish I’d known what I know now and had the strength that I have now; to have stood up for myself and declared that there is no mandatory schedule for sexual experience, that I’d found him a satisfactory partner for reasons that were none of anyone else’s damn business, that it’s perfectly ok to be a practicing painslut as long as everything is done with consent and that tipsy or not, I knew exactly what I was doing all along. That I was a young girl with a sexuality far in advance of my actual experience and trying to navigate the compromise between desire and deportment as best I could.
That was my first boy-girl snog and it set a pattern I was to follow for many years, of impulsive sexual behaviour, of being oblivious to the thoughts and motivations of my partner, of shame and guilt about my own desires, of looking to others for validation instead of believing in myself and drawing my own boundaries. Of chasing sensation with little thought to consequence and going home unfulfilled and miserable, wondering why I could be so easy – yet so hard to get.
Over time I broke out of that pattern and have learned to understand my sexuality, developed my ability to communicate honestly about it, found respect for myself. All the necessary things for being able to recognise and sustain a happy relationship. (I’m in a great relationship right now….probably the best I’ve ever known that existed outside my imagination).
Maybe I’ll tell you all more about that journey someday. Thanks for reading.