In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would dive into the delicious topic of The Kiss.
In line with the old theater adage, “There are no small parts only small actors,” can one say, “There are no bad kisses only bad kissers?” No. I learned this after the worst kiss of my life (given by a writer, I felt like his tongue was playing Whack-A-Mole with my mouth). I am afraid the truth is there ARE bad kisses AND bad kissers.
But, as we all know, a GREAT kiss can literally make you weak at the knees, and a great KISSER can have you on your back counting ceiling tiles before you know it.
I remember learning to “Boy Kiss” in 6th grade. I asked Wendy Steinberg, who was foreign (she came from Los Angeles), how to do it. She made me practice on my hand – so that fist I used to draw funny faces on and move my thumb knuckle to talk, you know, like this…
… became my imaginary boyfriend. After an appropriate amount of time I even used tongue.
It was kind of genius, and to this day I am thankful to Wendy.
But when I actually kissed a boy (while watching Burt Reynolds in The Longest Yard), I realized not everyone had studied with Wendy. He forgot he HAD a tongue …and lips. We scraped teeth until the inmates won.
I also remember the first time I had an “Oh my God, take-me-to-bed-or-leave-me-forever” kiss. I was 17. He was a cowboy. I thought; “Oh, NOW I know what all the commotion is about.”
And no wonder! There is so much stuff happening when we kiss. Almost a third of all cranial nerves that effect brain function are in the lips. And that combined with the lips being packed with more sensory neurons than any other region in the body means that as we kiss a smorgasbord of messages, sensations, emotions and physical “whoojy!” are being rocketed to the brain.
Truthfully, I am not sure I am a great kisser myself. Based on my thin “white girls lips” which goes along with my thin “white girl hair” – I would have to say, no.
But I do love to kiss.
Kisses christen significant moments and are lovely bon mots capping the ordinary.
I kissed my Mother’s dead cheek before the undertaker took the body away. It was so soft and so cold and the delicate hairs tickled my lips.
I kissed a girlfriend in high school on a drunken night and it felt like kissing myself.
I have kissed actresses on several occasions. I can see why men like it.
I kiss my daughters’ sweet necks when I wake them up in the morning.
I kiss my husbands hands.
And a Kiss can do a lot of things besides connect.
It can threaten, “Kiss Off,”
It can insult, “Kiss My Ass,”
It can define, “Kiss Ass,”
It can apologize, “Kiss and Make Up,”
It can begin, “Kiss of Life,”
It can end, “Kiss of Death.”
But here’s what I really love -the sound. Have you ever tried to kiss without making the sound of a kiss at the very end? Just take a second and try it – if no one is handy may I suggest you kiss that part of your fist that you used to draw pictures on?
It’s not a kiss without the sound, right? It’s just sticking your lips to someone else’s body. Why do we need the sound?
Drawing from ancient Sanskrit writings (which is the first time the concept of “The Kiss” is found), anthropologists suggest the idea of “exchanging breath” led to locking lips. Why would you “exchange breath” if not to drink in the other person’s essence? Maybe that little “kiss” sound and the pull of air exists because we are inhaling a little bit of the other person’s essence – a little bit of their goodness?
And to make that “kiss” sound we need lips. Desmond Morris in the The Naked Ape basically says lips are a billboard, advertising our sexuality. All primates have lips, but not turned a little inside out like ours. Human lips are puffy, rosy, and moist; they’re just basically screaming, “What do you need? An invitation?? TAKE ME!” At least those are my cliff notes of his zoological study of the human animal. I mean lips are made from the same skin as our nipples and our vaginas. I might have heard that from Wendy Steinberg, so I am not sure it’s true.
Happy February! Let’s use our multisensory lips for good this month and not evil. On the 14th let’s all find someone we love or someone who just needs a big K.I.S.S. – Kiss Including Sweet Sound.
Tell me your best kisses and your worst. Don’t worry, here at WTF, we don’t kiss and tell.