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I was drunk the first time I kissed Loz.

Of course I was.
I find it hard to remember many times when I WASN’T drunk and kissed a girl for the first time.
What a charmer.

I’d like to say it was on a beach in Brazil or  in front of a beautiful fountain in Rome or at the top of the Tokyo Tower.
Sadly, although these are some of the most romantic places I have been, there was no Loz to kiss in any of them.

It was in London.
That’s a start, it’s an international City and there are any number of romantic places to take a perspective girlfriend in the hope to cop a snog.

It was not planned however.
We had been out for a few drinks.
We met in the Champion.
We went to the French House.
We went to the Coach and Horses.

Then we sat in the doorway of 54 Dean street and kissed.

Immediately a homeless man yelled “I am going to tell your Dad!” at Loz and demanded £5 for his silence.

His shout startled me a bit.
I suppose it would have done at any time but particularly then.
This was not really planned and was a little bit dangerous.

I had known Laura for seven years.
The story is very long and complicated and with far too many players, I would be bound to forget someone or leave them out of the telling and then where would I be?

We met when she came around to my flat.
I came home from a show, it must have been around ten or eleven thirty at night.
She and another of my friends were having dinner and an evening in with my flat mate.

We did not have a television (Yep, pretty cool, pretty cool…) so we played parlour games.

Loz and I were supposed to be on the same team playing against the other two.
They had already been makeing a night of it by the time I had arrived and were all quite giggly by that point.
I was sober, stressed and tired.
The game was to describe famous people and get your team mate to guess them.
The team with the most correct answers after two minutes won.
I described characters like King Kong (Giant Gorilla! Thirties film!)  and Mickey Mouse (Big ears, lives in Disneyland).
Loz took issue with the fact that I did not know who Kurt Vonnegut was, even after she had listed all of his work, and was further infuriated that I called Emily Pankhurst ‘Emelia Pankhurst’ and the point had not been allowed.
She spent the rest of our go asking me how I could have got this far in life not reading ‘Slaughter House Five’ and so on.

We lost and there was much mockery.
I went to bed.

It took months before we got back onto something like an even keel.
Loz would be around at parties, on weekend adventures across London, in trips to see shows and on late night noodle sessions in town.

I suppose we saw each other every month or so.

She had boyfriends, I had girlfriends.
We socialized a bit together.

Seven years went by.

After that much time things had become fixed.
Things became ‘true’.
We were friends, we had been friends, we would always be friends.
Our relationships with our other friends defined who we were and how we related to each other.
In those days I considered that there were some things and some people you just never even went near, not in any romantic sense, because of what that would mean to the group.

I had been spending a long couple of years getting as bad a reputation as I possibly could. It had been tough but all that hard work was really starting to pay off and women were avoiding me in droves.
Well, some women were avoiding me in droves.
I was quite popular amongst the droveless.

In short, I hurt a lot of people.

What was made crystal clear to me by various friends was that behavior of that sort was not to be tolerated in the closed sanctum of our social group.
This had been said.
Out loud.
To me.

Meeting Loz for a drink after work was, therefore, a situation loaded with issues.

Of course, we had known each other for years, seven years.
We had loads of friends in common.
We had been out for a drink together hundreds of times before.

Still, we had only ever been in a social environment ‘alone’ together about three times.
Once when all our fiends had left the pub early, once at the end of season party where I was working and once in the long car journey back from Cornwall to London where she spent six hours beating me up with feminist politics and running intelligent rings around me while I tried to concentrate on the road.

So it was fine.
We were out alone.
But it was odd if I thought about it.
Because it had never escaped my notice that she was really cute.
So I tried not to think about it.
And she seemed to like my company.
Which was understandable because we had known each other for seven years.
But it was odd if I thought about it.
Because she was not beating me up with feminist politics and running intelligent rings around me like she usually did.
So I tried not to think about that either.

And it came to the end of the night and I had had a lovely evening and there was a really loud voice in my head saying:
GET ON THE NIGHT BUS AND GO HOME!

And we were just milling around because the Coach and horses had closed and we didn’t really know what to do next.
She had to go one way and I had to go another.

‘Let’s sit down’ she said.

So we sat on a slightly greasy step on Dean Street and chatted.

And I said “Right, I think we had better get on..’

And she said “ Oh, come here’

And there followed the longest second and a half of my life.

Now I grant you I had been drinking but those were the days when I was at the top of my drinking game, a relatively high functioning drunk.

But drunk or not I knew exactly what was happening.

I had made the ‘I’m going home’ play and she was countering with a kiss.

As we moved closer it all began to roll out in my head.

I had always been a little in awe of Loz.
I was completely out of my depth.

All our friends would have something to say about this.
I imagined what most of my friends would assume.

And the longest second and a half of my life drew on.

I imagined what would happen if I didn’t kiss her, got back on the bus and went home, would be like.
Pretend it never happened, ride out the social awkwardness and slowly drift apart again until we drifted into the outer circles of each other’s social lives.
No one gets hurt.
That seemed really safe.

I imagined what would happen if I kissed her.
What that would mean.
I knew, I was absolutely positive that this would not just be a kiss.
This would be much more than that.
I would have to be prepared for the possibility, the outside chance that…
Well, that I had been looking for such a long time and I had pissed off so many people along the way and here was….

Well, I was either going to make the biggest mistake or the best decision ever.

And still the longest second and a half of my life drew on.

And I was fairly sure I was about to ruin everything.

And I sort of thought…she is brilliant.
The whole reason I am feeling this way is because I have always thought she is brilliant.
I had been so very, terribly impressed with her for all those years and now, now she wanted to kiss me.

Me.

And I thought, maybe I found myself alone because I was deliberately making mistakes and not facing up to the fact that I needed someone, someone who I liked and who liked me.
Someone to trust and hold and be challenged by.
And perhaps here was that loving, trusting challenging person and perhaps I should make sure I did not mess this up like I had been messing things up before.

And suddenly there she was, like seeing her for the first time all over again.

And she seemed to trust me.

And she was beautiful.

And we kissed.

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