Hands up who has seen Dawson’s Creek? Or its more recent clone, The O.C? I am sure there are plenty of ‘Emo in disguise’ shows which I could list here, all aimed at the American middle classes. We all know how good American ‘aim’ is, and unsurprisingly, in a hail of televisual friendly fire, those shows ended up here on our TVs. Mowing down our impressionable young people in a cross fire of weepy teenage angst, I was luckily just old enough that these show’s bullets of cathartic simplicity bounced harmlessly off my embittered British skin, when they first started arriving in the late ’90s.
“Did you see the one where Dawson agonised over his naughty thoughts while hiding himself in a shack by an idyllic lake which the director brilliantly juxtaposed with Dawson’s roiling inner turmoil. You see! He’s just like us, except with a bigger forehead, obviously.”
Whether you think these shows are escapism, catharsis, or simply crap, you can’t deny their subject matter, first kiss, first fondle, first act of onanism (‘onerism’ is incorrect – look it up), strikes a chord with everybody. Unfortunately, life doesn’t do soft focus, and most people’s experiences are far more interesting and visceral than daytime US sop-soaps can cover. Looking back, I find my first kiss incredibly funny, but at the time it threatened to scar me for life. It was pre-Dawson by about two years – the only television I had to help me cope was Blue Peter and Byka Grooove.
Being the ‘creative type’ (read dyslexic and emotionally stunted) I had managed to land myself a bit part in the school play and was at school one weekend for a rehearsal. The play’s lead, played by one of my year’s cooler sorts, had brought a few ‘out of school’ friends with him, like a coterie of groupies. It was with one of these girls, a hoop ear-ringed, shiny shell suit wearing meta-chav with an expression of permanent distaste on her face, that I had my first kiss. I’m being a bit nasty after the fact, because I do remember her as very pretty despite all the Elizabeth Duke trappings.
I was a Nirvanoid, so I guess if she was a blueprint for chav, I was the blueprint for Emo and as they say, opposites attract. After much ‘my-friend-fancies you,-do-you-like-her’-type chat this girl and I ended up away from everybody behind a bush or something romantic like that. Things were going well, hotting up even. I cracked jokes, she laughed. She cracked jokes and I pretended to laugh. You could almost hear the music in the background building the tension toward the romantic encounter that surely neither of us could avoid. We were two freight trains on a single track of destiny ploughing toward a perfect passionate moment – time would surely stop. I lent in and it happened, boy freight train met girl freight train, we kissed, our tongues questing, my eyes open in shocked surprise at my luck – ‘look mum, I’m doing it!’ The moment lasted what seemed like an age, the girl pulled back and looked deep into my eyes and said:
“You’ve not done that before, have you?” My train de-railed, rolled down a bank and fell off a cliff edge of sheer drop-jaw embarrassment. She went off and told people who laughed at me.
Cue Music: “I don’t wanna wait... for our lives to be over…”