Saturday, August 16, 2008

Kiss and Tell

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.


Jen at Semantically driven said...

Oh my god, I'm so at that school social listening to the music. Lovely first kiss story.

Debby said...

Nobody even offered to kiss me until I was 19. How's that for backwards? I was funny stuff, but pretty awkward. Still have some troubles sometimes, speaking to people I don't know well, although I can talk to stangers like nobody's business. The only way that I know to explain it is that people I'll never see again, I'll talk a blue streak. People that I have to interact with, that I don't know, or that I'd like to know better...jees. I get tongue tied. Lucky this does not affect my fingers, or apply to e-friends!

And PAUL YOUNG!!!! Oh, my gosh. That brings back memories. I saw him play at Rutgers University. Probably about 1983. I'd forgotten until I read this. That being said, um, he was not my cup of tea. Although I was older, like 26 at that point, and not inclined to go ga-ga over 'pretty boys' whether they sang or not.

Melissa said...

Wow. What a flashback. Too many teenage memories this morning. Need a drink...

MissyBoo said...

Wow - sweet 16 and never been kissed??? I guess thats girls boarding school for you :-) What a great reminescence of your first kiss, I loved reading it!

Oooohhhh I loved Paul Young, too!

Jayne said...

OMG Those songs, those memories...!
Loved Paul Young *sigh* :)

Scribbit said...

Mentioning those songs takes me right back to high school with you--how funny!

Anonymous said...

Loved the memories. Take me back...

Crazed Nitwit said...

What song/video is that? Based on your other song references I was in my last years of undergrad(the first time) so 22/23 yo. You had your first kiss in your late 16th year? Hmm I was just 15. But no I wasn't a slut. :P

Anonymous said...

Aren't you glad 'not' to be 16 again?

Oh the memories of those songs had me laughing outloud...

Jay said...

Aww, so sweet.

jeanie said...

Jen - you could well have been - I would not have noticed as I didn't have my glasses on!!!

Debby - he didn't out and out offer - it was just sort of how that particular conveyorbelt moved... Oh, and Paul Young was not a "pretty boy" - he was a man with a voice of sunshine and sweet honey.

Crazed Mom - you probably had better opportunities (and offers!). The song was "Come Back and Stay" - his voice when he sort of yodel/whimpered towards the end always weakened my knees!

Melody - oh yes indeedy!! Much nicer to view at a distance.

Melissa - ah, but too much drink can trigger other memories that are best left lie...

M+B - nary a chance and never an offer.

Jayne - it seems we are a much larger club in blogworld than it ever seemed at school!

Scribbit - I liked going on the journey writing it myself.

rhubarbwhine - just so long as we don't have to wear those clothes!!

Jay - we all used to be so sweet, hey?

Anonymous said...

You told this so well! I think how you tied in all the songs made it so vivid--almost like I was reliving the moment with you.

It was a few years later and I was a very similar 16 year old dork. No boarding school and by that time my mom had sprung for contacts. I had no figure to speak of. I was thin but flat. I frosted my hair a few times and used Sun In to bring out the blonde in my dirty blonde hair (now gone mostly brown). I never was good with hair or makeup and hadn't a clue how to talk to boys without being one of them. I found out later the reason boys never asked me out was because they thought I was a complete bookworm and not the least interested in boys. There were a few who would have asked, and I would have accepted.

On my 16th birthday, a family friend, an older woman, said the first thing that came to her mind, "Sweet 16 and never been kissed." I don't believe she had thought about it or had guessed that it was true, but it cut deeply. A few months later I fell for the first (well, first marginally acceptable) boy to show interest in me. I wanted to be a normal teenage girl so badly. I wanted to be in love and to be loved. I had no idea how things should go, what I was supposed to do now that I had a boyfriend. Unfortunately I let it go too far physically without any real relationship or communication or anything else. It was all about sex, which, I found, was not really what I wanted after all. I'm very thankful that relationship ended, that it bore no serious consequences, and that it was the first and last bad relationship I ever had. About eight months later dh and I started dating.

I don't feel very much regret over that previous relationship. I just wish I had been stronger, bolder, and more sure of myself at 16. Then perhaps I wouldn't have fallen into that. I suppose I did learn from the experience and I have greater empathy for young girls in similar situations. I wish I could pass on the wisdom I've gained to all those girls. Some might listen, but then some lessons people must learn for themselves through experience.

Pencil Writer said...

Since I'm a generation or two before you (how long IS an generation these days? I was sixteen about a millenia ago--I think--or seems like!) Even then the "sweet 16/never been kissed" was like a death nell for any girl. Oh, what memories you stirred up, Jeannie! Thanks for the walk down "the lane".

Mary O. Paddock said...

Cool memory Jeanie.

I was seventeen. He was my first love. We're still friends. I saw him for the first time in twenty-two years not long ago. He and his wife and my husband and I all met for lunch. I was remarkably nervous, not sure why. But while our mates were distracted (they both grew up in Hawaii so they actually talked more than he and I did) we looked into each others eyes and remembered. And smiled. Alot.

Maude Lynn said...

This is SO good! What memories it brings back!

Kari said...

You know.. your post brought me back. Oh boy did it. I remember the first date the boy who took me to my first formal dance. I looked him up on Myspace once... I don't recommend that at all.

Anonymous said...

Oh I loved this.
I could totally relate.
You are an excellent writer. The imagery you create *swoon*
I hope it was a good first kiss.

Gabrielle said...

THAT was a GREAT story!!! We were in the same time frame with music, loved the play by play with each song segmenting the stages of your dance experience! What a sweet reward!

Mozi Esme said...

Ahhh! The innocence of it all!

jeanie said...

Jenni in KS - thanks for visiting. Don't we make some stupid mistakes for some bizarre reasons in life. I am glad everything ended up okay for you.

PW - love to walk down the lane anytime with you, dear.

Mary - what a sweet reunion.

Mama Zen - thanks.

Kari - easy - especially easy when you can't remember his surname.

Tiff - unfortunately not that great - but in its historical perspective he was the best kisser lol.

Gabrielle - thank you.

jubilee said...

The songs! The teen angst! The awkward dancing!
Loved your post.

Thanks for visiting mine!