I want to tell you a story. It’s not a particularly exciting story, but it perhaps goes some way to explaining why I didn’t kiss a girl until I was 18, and until very recently didn’t know which hole was the ‘right’ one.

You see, I was never given ‘the talk’. I can only assume this was because my parents noticed just how little testosterone I had. A soggy noodle probably had more testosterone than teenage Sebastian. My skin was clear, with spots only developing under my long, froppy fringe (bangs). When my voice finally decided to break, it took about 5 years; my balls just didn’t know when to stop their voice-deepening descent!


See! I look like a damn girl! I even have a beauty spot, like that damn super model Cindy Crawford! And I TOLD you that bowl-cut would continue to haunt me for years to come!

Looking back, I probably should’ve asked my mother for hormone injections or something; I have her to thank for my limp-wristed effeminacy that ensured my complete lack of  action at school — zero, zilch. Even if our school had a bike shed, I would’ve had no one to use it with (I made up for that when I got to college, though — I had sex behind a bike shed! Hah!) On Valentine’s Day I would always be the one sending flowers and getting nothing in return; only ‘secret’ love notes from my lovely mother. I blame my young, undefined, pretty face! Moving along now… (I told you I would post a picture from my teenage years!)

I was quite afraid of girls throughout my formative years; a fear that today shows itself as an awful lack of confidence when it comes to the actual ‘pulling’ of a girl. While all of my friends were playing spin the bottle and playing that ’5 minutes in the cupboard’ game (where you were meant to come out with switched clothes! Were we the only kids that played that game?), I was sitting at he edge of the circle, or in the corner, praying the bottle didn’t land on me. As it turns out (and I wish someone had told me sooner, as I might’ve tried to change!) girls really dig a confident guy. Above all else maybe, girls nearly always want a guy that knows what he’s doing; and that certainly wasn’t me.

So, my teenage years, with a complete lack of sex or even sexuality were dull. That isn’t to say I didn’t do anything interesting, just nothing teenagery and interesting. I won competitions, and both my education and vocabulary were both growing at an alarming rate but… but there was no damn sex! Occasionally a girl would look at me with her big eyes and look downwards, blushing… but at the time, I had no idea that she liked me. No one told me what girls do when they like you! As I’ve said before, it was only after I left school that my sister told me about all these girls that had crushes on me…

But, you know what? I don’t blame my complete lack of sexuality entirely on my apparent lack of testosterone, or my ineptitude at talking to women. Sure, it would’ve been nice to receive ‘the talk’ from my parents, or at school, but I don’t blame that either.

I blame a certain teacher. A teacher that treated sex like a sin that would send you directly to Hell, without even the briefest glimpse of Purgatory. The kind of teacher that took a black marker to our textbooks and removed everything that could in some way be related to sex — even the novels we had to read for English! I remember picking up Pride and Prejudice and finding chapter upon chapter with blacked-out blocks of text.

It’s unsurprising then, as a teenager, I might’ve thought sex was a bit like the MI5 or the secret police: you know it’s going on, somewhere, somehow, but you don’t talk about it, and you certainly don’t act upon any urges you might be experiencing.

Now, the great thing about most schools is that even if you get a bad teacher, you know that next year you’ll have a new one! You know that no matter how bad it was, and how awfully you might’ve behaved, next year things will be better — you’ll have a new teacher, and a clean slate.  It was the same logic which drove me, on the last day of the school year, to spread glue on this teacher’s chair and laugh in her face when she tried to get up to write on the blackboard.

Imagine my horror when, after a gloriously long summer break, we swung the classroom door open to find the same teacher grinning at us from behind her big, mahogany desk. Our mouths hung open in what she can only have assumed was awe, but was in fact 10 kids displaying their combined rictus of mortal terror. ‘Welcome back, little children of God, to my shrine of celibacy and all things pure’ she said. Well, she didn’t really, but that was the thought racing through all of our minds. Would we really be having another boring year of sexless education?

Sadly, we would — another year passed; another year without even a lingering hug from a girl, or a nervous grope from my shaking hands. I was now 14, and whether I liked it or not, my voice was starting to break. I was starting to find hair in new and exciting locations. I was having to stay seated behind my desk while the class emptied with increasing, and alarming (but not unpleasant) regularity.

And then, the impossible, through some wicked twist of fate became… possible. The infinitely improbable somehow occurred. Someone, up there — the God of Schadenfreude, if she exists — was obviously having a rather hearty laugh at our expense.

We had the same teacher for the third year running.

By this stage, most of the girls were already wearing burqas and avoiding unnecessary contact/communication with the boys on pain of death by stoning. The boys had pretty much forgotten what a crafty, under-the-desk erection felt like. I was fully expecting to be handed a chastity belt as I walked into her classroom for the third year running; a chastity belt that had no key and was sealed with an unbreakable resin glue.

Some way through the third year, it was someone’s birthday, and it was normal for us to have a little birthday party on Friday afternoon to celebrate — you know, some music and decorations, some cake and ice cream. Normally someone would bring in the latest-and-greatest pop album and we’d dance and laugh for hours. This time though, someone had a great idea, a great idea that would resonate through the ages: let’s make a mix tape… a mix tape with naughty songs on it. Songs like… Let’s talk about sex, by Salt-n-Pepa.

God, looking back, we were so excited about the prospect of one-upping our draconian, prude, preacher freak of a teacher. We talked about it for days in hushed whispers during class. The giggle fits which inevitably followed only resulted in the removal of yet more privileges, which eventually led us to behave. We were mortified that she might actually cancel the party and ruin our glorious, immature plans!

The day of the party finally arrived. The girls had dressed prettily. The sporadic and not wholly unwelcome erections were back. Spontaneous, girly giggles could be heard regularly; lingering touches could be felt during and after hugs. After the party, with hot, red blood coursing through our systems and with pheromones thick in the air, surely this was it. Surely this was going to be my first kiss. At worst it would be my first tentative grope. I was ready; this was it. Bring it on!

4pm came and class finished. I got the tape player out with a bounce in my step and a grin on my little (effeminate!) face. I pushed the symbol of our freedom into the machine, pressed play.

She’d got to the tape.

Somehow that witch of a woman had got to our mix tape. There was a rather severe lack of Salt-n-Pepa; instead, the soft, sultry tones of Cliff Richard wafted into the air. The soft, completely devoid-of-sexuality notes of Summer Holiday hit our ears like a sonic boom; the silence that followed was deafening. The sexual tension that had positively thrummed throughout the day dissipated in an instant. Today wasn’t going to be the day of my first kiss; it wasn’t even going to be the day of my first sweaty-palmed grope. It was to be yet another disappointing day in the life of teenage Sebastian.

Fortunately, just a few months after that party, and after three long, boring years, the winds of luck finally changed: we got a new teacher!

For years afterward though, the playing of Let’s talk about sex as loud and as often possible was the signature prank of my class — preferably from outside her window.

Geeks make good lovers
The self-portrait section has been updated


I am a tall, hairy, British writer who blogs about technology, photography, travel, and whatever else catches my eye.