Picture this - sweet sixteen.
1985. Sweet sixteen and an absolute dork. A witty dork, sure. A getting fitter (due to being in the up and coming 3rd IV rowing combination) dork, but still un-hourglass shaped, unsexy glasses-ed, un-stylish, uber-academic dork. Sweet sixteen, an absolute dork (checks around to see who is listening) never been kissed.
Now, you know and I know how truly dire such a state of affairs can be to the average sixteen year old girl. I mean I had kissed heaps - there were posters of Paul Young that I had plastered over my walls that will testify to that. But I dreamed of it being real - and without the real Paul Young to assuage my desire, I would have to find a stand-in - and fast.
Because we know there is only one thing worse than being sweet sixteen and never been kissed - and that is reaching seventeen in the same sad state.
Even though I was cloistered at the Red Roof Jail (aka boarding school) I was extremely lucky that the school was not above offering us chances of interaction with the opposite sex. Not many, mind, since so many boys boardings schools had gone co-ed and we weren't talking to them any more, the number of opportunities was exactly one. That one was St B's.
Now, St B's were not in such dire circumstances as us. There were two other girls boarding schools in the area, and they too were limited to St B's for male interaction. St B's had the sort of problems many teenage boys dreamed about (well, except for the being stuck in boarding school that sort of kyboshed a few fantasies, although if the rumours about the matron were true...)
Anyway, as I was saying, a school social was coming up, St B's were coming and I had an unkissed status to strip.
Here was my simple plan.
Exactly - I had none! What I knew about attracting boys would form white on black in a red lit room.
I knew they liked me being funny. I had been funny all my life and boys would flock around. Then they would go and get attractive girls and flock around getting me to make their girls giggle also.
So that ruled out my trump card really.
I knew they didn't like you to be too smart. Made the mistake once of telling one what subjects I was studying and it was instant repellant.
I knew they liked a well-formed figure (which I didn't have), blonde hair (ditto), plucked eyebrows, shaved legs and pits, a bit of bosom (yay - my one asset) and girls who knew what they were doing (I had no clue what that meant) - at least according to Dolly, the magazine aimed at my demographic.
Cleo, the magazine aimed at a few years older also advised that men knew just by the way a woman walked whether she was a virgin - I hoped their younger counterparts wouldn't notice the unkissed bit as easily!
So I did with what I had. I let a hairdresser streak my hair (and tell me, if you ever want to pay for pain, start there - back in the 80s with the cap and crochet hook).
I wore a brown, cream and gold drop-waisted dress that I thought was divine, hid my worst faults (in the way a cardboard box would have) and gave indications that my bosom was there, although not flashing the neons.
I shaved, plucked, made-up and blow-dried like mad to achieve something close to what the magazines advised was "sexy".
I took off my glasses and flew blind, with all of my friends on watch to advise if any boy I danced with were too ugly.
"I Want to Know What Love Is" blared from the speakers and the girls waited for the buses to arrive. Girls of all ages were hanging from dorm windows to catch glimpses of the elusive males, but we, the lucky grade 11s, lined the Hall anticipating 80 Prince Charmings to answer the song for us.
"Better Be Good to Me" belted out Tina, and our prayers were one below hers - let me not be left a wallflower as the phalanx of gorgeous, built 16 year old boys burst into the hall. Well, they were all gorgeous and built according to my unassisted eyesight.
"Say You, Say Me" stirred the boys into action and one by one we were peeled off the wall and enticed to dance.
"Don't You (Forget About Me)" as relevant questions were asked and answered between moves. Name. Where from. What subjects. I knew enough to mumble through that last one.
"Neutron Dance" by the Pointer Sisters. The standard dance for boys was shuffle, shuffle, shuffle from one leg to the other, while sort of shadow boxing with clenched fists - it didn't matter the music, tempo made their shuffle faster or slower but not one deviated.
"We Belong" clap clap. Unpicked girls danced together. Girls bored with the shuffle danced in front of the boys who had asked but with the girl beside them.
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" - a great song but unable to maintain the shuffle, the boy would ask if you wanted a break, a drink, and chance to look around and see if there was anything better offering.
"We Built this City" in the background as I escaped to the bathrooms with a girl I knew slightly who was dancing with his friend. "What's he like" I asked. "Oh" she said. "Cute enough." Which, in girl speak is not exactly hot but unless there is an unclaimed gorgeous one wandering the hall, he will do.
"Take On Me" and every couple on the dance floors were exchanging meaningful glances - I assume. I prayed I was sending the right signals and being sent a few. It is very hard to read a face when you can only see a blurred outline.
"Like A Virgin" and now the night was coming to a close, there was no time to change our minds or partners - just a matter if all this spadework would result in a peck at the end.
"Everytime You Go Away" oh and Paul was playing. I melted into the music and the boy saw whatever signal said "you may touch me" and put his arms on my shoulders.
"Suddenly" and he moved in closer. Okay, close enough I could see he was "cute enough" and given enough detail that when I closed my eyes I would know what face to focus on. I could edit acne scars and make his eyes a little brighter, his brow a little less heavy, give him darker hair and an English accent - oh, who was I kidding, no-one would ever replace my ultimate fantasy.
"I'm On Fire" and the heat generated by Bruce and the boys in the hall brought the houselights up. It was time to say goodbye, to wave those boys off on buses and send us back to the dorms.
We gathered on the steps. Our hands remained entwined and we had the last few minutes without music under the eyes of the boarding misstresses and masters. Murmurs, last call and then I closed my eyes and leaned forward to accept the ultimate gift...
This was written in response to Scribbit's August Write-Away prompt "First Kiss".
Oh, this takes me back. Sigh.