When I was about 5 years old I started to be interested in girls. Not in a sexual way as I had no conception of what sex was at that time, but I'd find girls my own age “pretty” or even “beautiful” and would want to be their boyfriend.
This was in retrospect kind of cute and endearing and I'm sure many little boys and little girls go through similar crushes.
When Abba were popular I wanted to marry Agnetha Faltskog and hoped she'd stay unmarried long enough for me to grow up to tie the knot with this singing blonde lady who looked so lovely and pretty and sweet. Was upset for about a day when I found out that she was married to Bjorn (or as we called him “the one that looks like a gibbon!”) from Abba.
When Star Wars was released I had a monumental crush on Princes Leia, as did most boys of my era. I wanted to marry her too.
There was no talk of sex, because my willy was only for weeing through at this point in my life. I had a desire to be with someone just because they were pretty and to maybe have a kiss and a cuddle...but no tongues, even French kissing was an alien concept and quite frankly GROSS.
Later on as I grew up my feelings evolved and I began to fancy girls a lot more. Problem was that society imposed a belief system upon children back then that you have to have an interest in the opposite sex by about the age of 11 or you were just plain odd...or possibly gay.
To have the trophy of an actual “girlfriend” was something you could parade around the playground at Primary school with your little head held high. Many wanted the accolade of an actual girlfriend but very few had that privilege and prize. The experience was based upon the fact that you were part of a higher group of boys, ones that had become attractive to girls and were like fully patched members of a motorcycle outlaw club. While you were fully expected to play football or army games with your mates at playtime or lunchtime, no one would begrudge you if you were seen talking to your “girlfriend” on the bench outside class 7. Only time you overstepped the mark was if you were caught kissing or even holding hands as that was “sissy” and “girly” and cries of “wooOOOOooo!” and whistling would result from your delighted peers.
It was very easy to lose this trophy though. One or both of you would become bored and say to the other that they were “chucked” or “packed” or “ditched”. Usually they'd get a friend to tell you as they didn't have the bottle to do it themselves. Picture the scene. Waiting after school in your best jacket with your hair brushed near the see saw at Fishponds Park playground when your girlfriend's three best mates approach and without any preamble tell you that you're “chucked” and walk off again.
So there was immense pressure to be cool enough to get a girlfriend and even more pressure to be cool enough to keep her for longer than a week. No question of sex. The very thought of putting your fingers near someone's toilet parts was quite frankly vomit inducing. You were a couple who played board games in each other's bedrooms and went for walks and stole kisses when the grown ups (or your own friends) weren't looking.
When you get to about 13 your willy grows hair and your body starts to smell different and you have to deal with the onset of puberty. Girls still seemed icky but a bit less so and then you'd see a girl who was just perfect and you'd think she was cute. Your social interaction skills would be called into play to try and impress her. Problem was that while your body was evolving into that of a man, your mind was still very much that of a child and of course your peers would take the mickey, you'd feel uncomfortable and embarrassed at any little thing and the only difference between when you were 8 or 9 and now was that you would masturbate in the bathroom with furious abandon on a daily basis.
Kids of about 13 to 15 tend to have strange bodies and acne or spots. I must have spent a fortune on Biactol and pimple cream when I was a teenager which instead of clearing up the spots, just opened up my pores to the elements so any horrible shit could flood in and toxify my complexion. Finding someone who fitted the stereotypes that you saw in American movies about teenagers was almost impossible (at my High school I think there were about two lads from nearly 100 that looked like the blokes in teen comedy Porky's**)
But I digress...
You were made to feel that not being interested in girls made you a puff***. You were told that showing too much interest made you a rampant perv. You were also told that you were a badass extraordinaire if you actually had a girlfriend. Provided of course that she was good looking.
My first girlfriend at High school was to be honest a bit of a minger and my peers would constantly take the piss out of me for dating “the frog” or “Orville”****. It was a case of the Emperor's new clothes for me though. I had a “girlfriend” and her physical attractiveness (or lack of) was something that I was unable to perceive in its true form.
Go further up to about 14 years of age and kids would have parties while someone's mum was away for the weekend. There'd be talk the following Monday of how Bob had shagged Sarah on her mum's bed and had used clingfilm and a rubber band as he couldn't find a condom. We'd all gather round Bob, this demi-god of sexual proclivity, and want to know all about it. He would of course lie and come out with a load of cobblers about what had happened. His chat up line had apparently been “get your scants off” and when we asked what being inside a girl's fanny felt like he paused and said “like when you stick your hand up a turkey's bum to pull the guts out before you cook it.”
So the cycle continued. Problem was that the feelings your body and libido foisted upon your adolescent soul, were not even remotely like the real thing. Believing for years that a vagina was a hole, I was taken aback when my friend Chris sneaked in one of his father's porn mags and it was a photo of two naked women, faces contorted in fake ecstasy with one holding the other's fanny wide open. I mean like Eww! To my adolescent brain it looked like a butcher's shop window.
When I went to college at 16 it was deemed highly insulting to call someone a “virgin” if they were a guy. It was a mark of shame to have not shagged a bird by the time you were eligible to legally do so. You were like a social leper if you hadn't shagged someone and even my parents would occasionally bring up the subject of how I “hadn't got a girlfriend yet” as if having one was a badge of office that every teenage boy should have. No regard to my own feelings, sexuality or social awkwardness. After all, I had friends who had regular girlfriends and Donkey Dixon had the same girlriend, a trainee hairdresser, for a year now. Why couldn't I be more like him?
When I went to Uni I finally got laid. I was 2 weeks from my 20th birthday (courtesy of retaking my O levels...well actually taking GCSE as I had sat the final year of O levels in June 1987). The woman in question was an 18 year old Irish girl who had a haircut like the fat one from the TV show Birds of a Feather... and was almost as fat. I was so drunk (it being the Fresher's Fortnight Three Legged Pyjama Pub Crawl) that I'd puked on myself. We went to bed sodden and stinking and my only thought as I went down on her was “please don't let me put my tongue up her bum!”
I was inside her for about 10 seconds but the next day as I wrestled with a horrible hangover, I was able to mentally tick off a box in my head that I was no longer a virgin.
Experience was utterly shite. All those years planning and thinking and wanking my brains out...and when I stuck my dick in her I didn't even cum. I had expected mountains to crumble, seas to roar and Superman to fly past the bedroom window and do a victory roll. As it was my only thought was “that's a LOT slacker than my fist!”
As I got older and experience was brought into the act, I enjoyed sex more but still rarely came from someone else's efforts. Mike Patton of Faith No More had said in an interview that imagination and masturbation are better than sex and I could see his point. Problem was that I also believed me and him were wrong for thinking that. I also felt I should want sex all the time in order to be “normal”. Overall it was a disappointing thing, losing my virginity and 24 years later I still can't understand people who will fuck strangers in pub toilets. If it's for the thrill of it then fine, but what the fuck?!! Can't you just wait? It's just a shag!!!
Drinking was another big disappointment. All those years of seeing beer commercials with delicious looking lagers and then at the age of about 12 I actually tried my first beer. Taste was horrible. It was like fizzy, cold piss. Back in the 1970s and 1980s they advertised alcohol on TV as if drinking made you a macho bastard who was irresistible to women. Skol lager had some vaguely amusing ads about “Skolars” who were able to impress the birds and their mates with tricks around sharing the cans. However they also had the irritating themse song “Lift the finger, say the word and raise the elbow high. OH, I'm a Skolar and he's a Skolar we're Skolars through and through.”
Alcohol in England was, until VERY recently, treated as a dangerous toy that the population couldn't be trusted with. Wankers in power never seemed to correlate that sending people home at 11pm every night was not a good idea. Far from keeping them sober it instead meant that they knocked back about 4 pints at 10.30 every evening and then left to fight, drink drive, beat up their spouses or fall over in the street.
On my 14th birthday I vividly recall at dinner my mother saying in a condescending tone “as it's your birthday would you like a little glass of wine?” which I drank slowly, savouring every sip. Next to me sat my brother who was 12 but wasn't allowed any as it wasn't his birthday.
In Europe at that time, especially France and Italy, kids were given a glass of wine (albeit maybe watered down) with Sunday dinner to teach them maturity and familiarity to booze. They didn't regard it as a Jekyll & Hyde brew or a licence to party or a naughty but legal drug. No, they thought of it as something that was fine, provided you took it slowly.
I meant an American tourist a few years ago who summed things up with the line, “You Brits drink like you're afraid someone's about to take it off you.”
So when I was about 15 I found the wine box in the fridge on Sunday and kept helping myself. Throughout the course of the evening I was threatening myself in the mirror (could hear my father laughing and my mother chiding him with “don't laugh it's NOT funny!”), throwing stuff around my room and falling over. Hardly a fun time but I think my folks let it happen so I'd know what effect alcohol had.
To be honest it just felt a little daring that I'd been sneaking illicit sips of wine.
As machismo in advertising for alcohol got banned (and later any claims that it would make you popular, sexually active, sexy, fit or anything even remotely positive) the commercials became cleverer. Guinness did some very weird shit with Rutger Hauer as the personification of a pint of the Irish stuff, while Castlemaine XXXX had some rib tickling adverts playing up the supposed rugged sexism of Australian men.
When I went out with my friends on a Friday or Saturday night, we'd always drink too much and always end up with stinking hangovers the next day. The kind of pubs we went to took at least 10 minutes to get served at the bar and were standing room only. There was no possibility of a proper conversation as the music was too loud and there were too many people crushed into the Birch & Billycock or the Coach & Horses.
The whole experience was decidedly underwhelming.
So now....I take my time. Sex is great if it's with someone who is either good at it or you have an emotional connection with (or both). Drinking is fun if it's to savour the taste or the company you're with (or both).
God bless you 1980s peer pressure.
** Aspiring to be like these "teenagers" was impossible. Only found out years later that the kids were played by actors in their mid to late twenties.
*** Back in the 1980s only celebrities were gay. The word was used only to insult other kids. Even the teachers made us believe it was fundamentally wrong.
**** Nauseating and unfunny green duck puppet that had Keith Harris's hand stuck up its arse on TV.