My first kiss was more an act of feminist rage than teenage swooning. I was selfish and unkind. I chose to crack someone’s heart a little bit, just for a night. I turned a first into a last, an admirer into a stranger, and a stranger into a make out partner.
Let me explain myself.
It was a house party, the type with red plastic cups. They were the exact cups from all those early 2000s movies, where high schoolers would illegally crowd someone’s parent-free house for a few hours, blaring New Found Glory in the background. I used to watch those movies. I always thought alcohol would taste sweet. That’s why everyone was so happy, right?
Newsflash: Santa Claus isn’t real and alcohol tastes like poison. Oh, and jerks exist in movies and in real life. Jeez. You’d think at least fictional girls could catch a break.
This party was outside – no kid in their right mind would let us inside their house with those cups. There were floodlights set up, which I now blame for all my memories of the night being flushed out and looking slightly grotesque. I’d caught the unwanted attention of a boy. He’ll remain nameless and faceless because he exists all across the Earth in various colours and sizes. I’ll call him The Nice One. You’ve met him before, I’m sure of it. Phrases you’ll hear from him will follow the lines of,
“I’m a nice guy.”
“Where’s my hug?”
“My ex was a – ”
Etc. etc. etc.
He calls himself kind. He could check out and not be a total creep, who knows. All I know is kindness isn’t something you call yourself. It’s something bestowed upon you around the lunch table when you aren’t there. It isn’t something for your Twitter profile.
It’s fair to say I didn’t find The Nice One nice. I was growing and learning. I was heroically pushing boundaries in the feeble way teenage girls do when they start reading Margaret Atwood and find out the world is unfair. I thought I could see through him. I could always see other people’s contradictions clearer than my own. He called himself nice but he was a teenage boy, who laughed at femininity like it was a punchline. It didn’t compute with me.
So back to the party. It was full and humid. Mosquitoes were clouding around the floodlights and someone had already spilled their drink on me. A group of us had found a spot by the side of the house in one of those alleys that lead to the laundry. My best friend was already sick, so I was hovering around (don’t take pain meds and then drink boxed wine) (don’t do it). It was all fun, games, and holding back puke until The Nice One made a passing remark at me. It was something along the lines of,
“I’m going to steal something from you tonight.”
Imagine, if you can, that this was said with sincerity and sweetness. It wasn’t meant as a threat. He wanted to steal a kiss. How noble of him to forget that stealing is a crime. Now, this wasn’t a Disney movie. We weren’t smiling at each other and there were no blue birds chirping in the vicinity. Even if there were, I’m not into Prince Charming kissing unconscious girls.
Most girls, at least from my experience, have an art. That art is brushing off shiver-worthy comments from boys. They learn how to giggle at sexism and shrug at misogyny, and how to say,
“Pfft, of course I’m not a feminist,”
In the most nonchalant tone they can breathe through clenched teeth. The night of the red cups and floodlights was the night I lost my art. It was an art I didn’t even know I had it until it was gone. I heard the switch click in my brain, I got angry, and I drank to become the most determined, intoxicated arsehole I could possibly be.
I wasn’t interested in kissing. I had no attitude either was – I was neutral. I was the Switzerland of kissing. After an embarrassingly small amount of drinking, I became Germany. Like, 1939 Germany. I found The Willing One (just go with it), and went to town. He was nice without telling me he was, and that was enough. I’m not going to go as far as to say that my flirting was like Germany invading Poland because I’m sure you can work that out for yourself. I did make it obvious enough to get an innocuous, angry Facebook status written about me, curtesy of The Nice One.
Getting to whatever ‘base’ kissing is wasn’t all that hard. I took the simpler route. I picked another art, one I’m more grateful to have – the art of asking. You wanna make out? Yes? Rad. Thank you Amanda fucking Palmer.
If you want to know how to kiss, I’m not the best guide. You lean in, you close your eyes, you hope.
I won’t tell you my first thought, because it was cruel and entirely down to me being Switzerland. Lips are lips, and lips on lips didn’t feel like anything other than that. The only victory in that kiss was that no one had stolen it from me. It was my decision to do it. It wasn’t because my hormones were out of control or because kissing was on my to-do list for the night. What I was doing wasn’t kissing – it was me taking back my power… lip to lip with a stranger. It was proof of my free will.