Whereas I had accepted with near equanimity the news that I might one day put my willy inside a girl's fanny (I believe my reaction was "OK"), it was entirely inconceivable to me that I would even consider placing my tongue into a girl's mouth and accepting hers into mine.
And even less likely that I should ever desire to do so.
As with so many things, I was a late starter at kissing. So it wasn't until I was 12 and in secondary school that I finally got my first opportunity to engage in a French kiss. By which time I was more than ready.
The partner in question was a young lady three years my senior and therefore indisputably adult in my eyes. She also smoked, adding to the air of adulthood. The occasion: an after-show party I had organised at my house for select members of the cast of our school musical. Including, of course, this stunning, mature goddess whose name, I am embarrassed to say, has completely slipped my mind despite the pivotal nature of the experience we were about to share.
My parents, being middle-class, had supplied soft drinks and crisps. But my fellow thespians had clearly anticipated such an eventuality, for they turned up with bottles of cider. Not the American stuff that even the youngest of children may drink without landing their guardians in trouble, but the alcoholic variety sold in Britain. It wasn't long, therefore, before someone suggested a game of Spin the Bottle.
For those unacquainted with this quintessential hetero-teen icebreaker, Spin the Bottle is like a poor-man's version of roulette. The rules are simple: everyone sits in a circle and participants take turns spinning an empty bottle in the centre. The spinner then gets to kiss whomever the bottle points to when it stops.
Not surprisingly given at least one member of the company I was partying with, I didn't need a lot of persuasion to join in. And after a few frustrating rounds and near-misses, my dream finally came true: my bottle pointed to Whatshername.
The version of Spin the Bottle we were playing that day featured a slight variation on the theme: the person being kissed (hereinafter referred to as "the kissee") could choose the type of kiss to be employed by the person who had spun the bottle ("the kisser"). The options: French or normal. And cider notwithstanding, not all the girls were game to go all the way. It was therefore with much mental finger-crossing, considerable consternation and even greater anticipation that I, the would-be kisser, awaited my kissee's decision.
To my undisguised relief, she chose French.
Shuffling across to the circle on my knees and over to her side, our mouths locked, our lips parted and our tongues intertwined. I was in Heaven.
The others were well aware that this was my first time, so when we finally broke off our embrace after what must have been at least four seconds,they asked as if with
one voice how it had been.
"Salty," I replied drily.
It would be another three years before I had my first proper, passionate French kiss. By then I was a testosterone-fueled zombie with only one thing on my mind. And it wasn't brains.
This time the object of my affections was the daughter of my French teacher, a recent arrival at our school. Yes, apropos as it may seem, I did indeed have my first real French kiss with a French girl. And coincidental or providential as it may be, the scene was once again a party. Her birthday party, to be precise.
I had been vaguely aware for some time of this girl's interest in me. And I was certainly more than interested in this alien female being who laughed so easily and clearly had boobs. But having been emotionally emasculated by multiple marriages shattering around me in my formative years, I was too shy to make the first move. I therefore somehow found myself lying on a pile of cushions in the middle of a birthday party, locked in an tight embrace by an amorous girl who had been playing Serge Gainsbourg's "Je t'aime" continuously all night in a vain attempt to get me to snog her. I was at once elated and petrified. And therefore completely incapable of action.
After what seemed like - and may well have been - hours with my cheek pressed firmly up against hers, she finally turned her head and our lips met.
I won't go into the details, but 30+ years later I can still sense her small, soft tongue darting around my mouth as I, lost in adolescent ardour, explored hers. The rest I will leave to my fond memory and your imagination.
Having thus frenched my French teacher's French daughter, I developed a francophilia that has remained with me to this day. I'm not ashamed to say that I love most things French: French kissing, French food, French wine and most of all, French women. I've even found myself a French wife, with whom I shall be married for 20 years in a few months' time. And together we have two adorable French kids.
Though I don't use my tongue on them.