The Damage Starts Here

Seven strangers told Keppie Coutts and Caddie Brain the story of their first kiss. We didn’t expect the amount of blood, emotional damage and slapstick that poured out. Anyway – here they are…

“She wanted to be sexual”

MorrisonJen Morrison, 27 years

At 13, Jen Morrison was really into Jim Morrison. Well how couldn’t she be? Jen wanted to be just like him. She wanted to be sexual. She wanted to be experimental. (She also wanted to “beat up the boys”, but that might have been her own thing.) One evening the opportunity for all of that presented itself - her first proper party.

Let’s set the scene: there was a blacklight on in the room. Jen’s had a drink (or eight), her teeth are that wacky colour that teeth go under blacklight, and across the room she sees Keith, a tall 17 year old, thin with dark eyes and “punky-coloured” hair. Does that mean dirty? No, it meant “sort of shaved, and pink”. Jen simply walked across the room and started kissing him. That's just what Jim would have done. They kissed all night long.

And what came after that? Well, she did the only appropriate thing to do at the time – she lied about her age. “I'm 15,” she said.

She told him the truth a week later, lost her virginity to him three weeks after that (probably while listening to Light My Fire – the statutory rape remix), then did acid and smoked a shitload of weed with him for the next two years.

And that – my beautiful friend – was the end.

“Is that really appropriate?

Keppie Coutts, 25 years

CouttsIt was the school dance. And at 14, Keppie was there in an “organisational capacity” which meant dobbing on kids who were “drinking in shady corners behind trees and what-not”. But Keppie goes from being the no-good, party-pooping villain of this story to being the scorching hot heroine when she unexpectedly finds herself in what she describes as a “tonguey tangle” in the middle of the dance floor.

The other tongue belonged to Steve, 16. Their paths had already crossed performing in the school's production of Guys and Dolls, and they must have got on “nicely-nicely”. (That’s a reference from the show – if you haven’t seen it, lucky you – musicals make my arse twitch.)

But less context and more titillation: Keppie reckons Steve grabbed her arse and “stuck his tongue in” (her mouth, not her arse, they were kids, for God’s sake). Keppie admits it was probably a bit less one-sided than she’s making it sound. Quite mutual in fact.

Next thing she knew there was a tap-tap-tap on her shoulder. She peeled her lips off Steve and turned around. It was a teacher asking her, “Keppie, is that really appropriate?”

It’s a fucking school dance, lady – what’s not “appropriate” about a snog on the dancefloor?! Were you born 40 years old?

You always think of the right thing to say about 11 years too late.

“A very powerful tongue…”

Alison Layton, 25 years

LaytonAccording to Alison, “311 was a really cool band in the 90s”. Yeah, something doesn't seem quite right about that phrase to me either, but let it go for now. Alison was only 12, and it was in the atmosphere of adventure at a 311 gig that she met this boy. Nothing concrete happened that evening, and perhaps they would never have seen each other again, but for the fact that he was on a swim team and she was on a swim team.

Alison’s unsuspecting parents drove her to that next swim meet, and the two kids met alright. Her folks dropped her off a mere girl, but by the time they picked her up she was – well, if not quite a woman, at least slightly less of a girl. (Or maybe more of a girl than before, depending on how you look at those heady, hormone-clouded years of adventure and discovery. Anyone at this point who doesn’t get a bit flushed and kind of excited in a creepy sort of way over it has an icicle for a heart and wilted spinach for genitals.)

It’s not known if Neil Diamond’s Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon was playing in the car on the way to the pool that afternoon, or if it might instead have been Urge Overkill’s (really quite good) cover of it from 1992. We do know that it wasn’t Britney’s I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman because, mercifully, it hadn’t been recorded yet.

Soundtrack aside, Alison knew the exact gap of time between races, so snuck behind the pool with John (that turned out to be his name) and made out while the swim meet went on nearby. I say “making out” in the most innocent sense of that expression, the way it used to be meant, not the way it’s meant these days, with kids having sex at 8 years of age and coked-up threesomes at 10.

No, they just kissed. And it was just a little bit disappointing – not like in the movies at all. Alison can’t remember if he was much of a swimmer, but he did have a very powerful tongue, this John guy. So powerful in fact, that she didn't make it back to the pool in time and missed her race.

Later she took a picture of his penis with a Polaroid camera, and her Dad found the photo.

“The weird, metallic taste…”

Joanie Bishop, 33 years

BishopJoanie reckons that at 13, she and this kid Donald (also 13) were “trying to be in a relationship”. Down the back of their playground there was a shed “where the PE teacher kept all his stuff, like all his balls”. There, protected from the hawkish gaze of the teachers patrolling the playground, was their school’s designated “make-out spot”. Joanie and Donald had already talked about adding kissing to their relationship so they went behind the shed and got started.

And was it good? No it wasn’t.

Donald’s tongue was “licking outside”, and Joanie asked him – “What are you doing?” Wet everywhere, she had to wipe her face. Beyond that, she recalls “the weird metallic taste of his braces” and that they bumped their glasses against each other.

With that kind of a beginning things deteriorated further. They never kissed again. About a week later Joanie tried to touch Donald's “pee-pee" but he wouldn't let her.

The whole relationship lasted a bit over a week and must have been traumatic because Joanie chose not to date anyone again until she was 22.

Friends, let Joanie’s experience be a lesson: even a 13-year-old will not forgive you for calling his unquestionably large and majestic schlong a “pee-pee”.

“A huge burn mark”

Chris Brown, 32 years

BrownIn every life there’s some good luck and some bad luck. One day in Chris Brown’s 15th year he had some good luck. Chris describes himself as an awkward kid at the time, and this is confirmed by his next statement. “I was just sitting in a maths classroom at lunchtime”. Enough said.

But this particular lunchtime everything changed. Enter Jill, 15 years old and the smartest girl in the school. Was she there because her precocious intelligence made her shy and forced her to spend lunchtimes alone in maths rooms too? Perhaps not, because, unprovoked, Jill walked straight into the room with Chris and laid a big pash on him. Or, in Chris’s words, they “made a big tongue sandwich”.

Years later, when Chris was at university, a girl brushed past him around a corner, knocking the cigarette he was holding. Looking up startled, the first thing he saw was a huge burn mark on her arm, and began apologising profusely. Then he realised the girl was Jill. She was working there as security, but as it turned out she got the burn from someone else the week before.

“The terrible scars…”

Fionn McCabe, 25 years

McCabeAccording to Fionn McCabe, “when your teeth clamp down on either side of somebody's mouth, it’s not great.” Why is he moved to declare this? Well, at 14, Fionn went to see a movie with a girl, Rory who was 13. Both had “prominent noses”. There was the touching of hands, the touching of legs, each move bolder than the last. They finally turned their heads toward each other, and in a momentary panic, Fionn quickly thought of all the examples he knew of effective kissing technique, which in his case had been gleaned from vampire movies. He drew his mouth open as wide as a 14-year-old with a prominent nose can and somehow managed to bite both sides of her mouth. Apparently, she was fine, “except for the terrible scars”. Right, well either way, the lingering image is one of two young kids, scared out of their heads in a darkened cinema, one shitting himself with fear and guilt, and the other wearing a confused look and a bloody moustache.

After that first date, Rory spent nights crying, thinking that Fionn “didn't like her”, which was a fair enough assumption since he had now made her mouth as prominent as her nose. But somewhere along the line, she mustered the words “Hey I like you, please ask me out.” He waited four days then plucked up the courage to ask her on another date.

Clearly, suckers for punishment.