Good Kisser (Written In Spring/Summer 2004)

Good Kisser

I could fall for a girl based on her kiss. Women know how other women like to be kissed. Men don’t. I recently kissed a man who told me I should practice my technique – I know, I’m ‘a bad lesbian’, I’ve heard it all before, and no I’m not bisexual. I’m just a bad lesbian who gets drunk from time to time in straight bars and kisses men because she’s fed up or feels out of place. Anyway, I told him that I’d never had any complaints from women and that perhaps if he were to try kissing a man then he’d know how uncomfortable stubble felt when it scratched against your skin. He told me that men weren’t really his cup of tea; that I kissed like I was dying of hunger and that his lips felt numb afterwards. I wanted to tell him that he certainly wasn’t my cup of char, that I was dying of boredom actually; and that he took a chunk out of my lip and it was bruised for three days. But I decided to keep my mouth shut.

Have you ever watched that film ‘Never Been Kissed’ with Drew Barrymore? The one where she plays the geeky copy editor who gets an assignment to go back to high school undercover as a seventeen-year-old student? That film makes me cry every time I watch it, especially the flashback where she gets dressed up to go to the high school prom with the most popular guy in school, and then he turns up in a limousine with another girl and throws a rotten egg at her.

I was fifteen when a boy from school publicly humiliated me at an under eighteen’s disco: I was wearing my brand new white jeans and blue denim shirt, and my mother had let me use her hot brush for the first time to style my hair. I’d just come out of hospital, at the time, after a three-and-a-half-month stay, and I was really excited that my friends had invited me to go with them. Almost everyone in our year was there.

Some of the boys from my class were having a competition to see how many girls they could kiss. A couple of times, one of them would nudge me on the shoulder and I’d lean in thinking that I was going to be next but then they’d just ask me to move up a seat so that they could ‘talk’ to the girl sitting next to me. Before long, everywhere I looked, all around the room, there were boys and girls groping in corners; at one point I was sandwiched in between two couples and I couldn’t move for fear of interrupting them.

I was sitting on my own, sipping my diet coke when I heard one of the boys say, ‘That’s me got thirty-nine.’ I knew he meant thirty-nine girls but I couldn’t quite believe it. He was popular because he was the classroom clown but I didn’t think he was good looking in any shape or form; his front teeth were warped and his ears stuck out like two spoons.

‘Ha, I got forty!’ said his friend, the small one with the bleached blonde hair that all the girls fancied. ‘Haha you owe me a tenner, ya prick!’ As Spoon-Ears grudgingly went into his wallet, Blondie caught my eye and grinned. ‘Forget about it,’ he said, and he waved the money away. Blondie stood looking at me for a moment and I smiled at him, thinking he was quite pretty – looking back, I can see now that all the boys in high school I had crushes on resembled baby dykes.

When Blondie walked over towards me, my stomach flipped. Was the most popular boy in school really going to kiss me? He bent over and put his lips really close to my ear: ‘My pal fancies you,’ he said, ‘d’you want to snog my pal?’ Disappointed, I looked around at my friends who were all in kissing couples and then over at Spoon-Ears. He had a stupid grin plastered across his face and when he saw me he stuck his tongue out. I didn’t particularly want to kiss him. Who would? But then I didn’t want to be the odd one out. A kiss from Spoon-Ears had to be better than nothing, or so I thought at the time.

I realize now what a lucky escape I had. Spoon-Ears had no idea what the little interaction between me and Blondie was all about and when his friend enlightened him, he threw a hissy fit and called me a ‘dog’. Later that night, he walked over to me and in a pretense apology, outstretched his hand for me to shake. Reluctantly, I reached out to accept and he tipped a glass of Irn Bru over my white jeans with his other hand.

That night has always haunted me, so much so that in preparation for my first trip to Manchester’s Gay Village, I made a pact with my inner teenager: for this weekend and this weekend only, her mission was to kiss forty girls – or forever hold her peace.

Then, three days before I went to Manchester, I met a really amazing girl. I told her this story (the first time I’d told anyone) and she said: ‘Don’t you think that not kissing those boys made you kinda special?’

Special as in what? I wanted to ask her. Remedial lip-reading class?

We went out the following night again and after a few drinks for dutch courage, I kissed her. This put me completely at loggerheads with the whole inner-teenager-going-out-and-painting-Canal-Street-red thing. I’ve always been a die-hard romantic and I started to think that kissing other girls would be like cheating even though we weren’t actually ‘going out’. The girl in question just told me to get drunk and have fun.

Manchester’s Canal Street made feel like a kid at a pick-n-mix counter. Everywhere I looked there were beautiful women. And what’s more – without trying to sound egotistical – beautiful women were looking and smiling at me! I was wearing my favourite black trilby, which gave me some added confidence that night, and my friends thought it was completely hysterical when a pretty blonde approached me and said something I couldn’t hear. While it was apparent to my friends who were

on-looking that this girl was interested in me, I was completely oblivious and I turned my ear towards her just as she leant in to kiss me. ‘Cool hat,’ she said, and gave me a peck on the cheek. I watched her disappear downstairs, looking back only once to give me a come-on smile. I smiled back, but I didn’t follow her. My fifteen-year-old inner child was more than completely satisfied.

Last night, I was talking online to the girl whom I’ve been dating. I was also listening to ‘The Love Album’ when ‘Red Dragon’ came on, and I just couldn’t help cyber-serenading her: ‘Compliments girl on your kiss … you’re number one girl on my list … and every time I think of you, I wish …’

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