“If you wanna know if he loves you so, it’s in his kiss…”
—The Shoup Shoup Song, Betty Everett
Think about it. What would cause any two people to press their lips together? Where in the cosmos would they get that inexplicable idea? Surely, the discovery must have been made when they accidentally fell into each other’s faces, because when you do think about it, it’s just a weird concept. Regardless of how strange the reality of the action might seem, kissing is an electrifying sensation that is certainly better than what you thought it was going to be like during those prepubescent years before your hormones kicked in and your pigtails quivered as you screamed that boys were icky.
But the magic of a kiss only manifests if kisser and kissee vibes hook up… a kiss is far more than all that pumped-up, plump-lipped, movie and romance novel sensationalism. In actuality it’s a bio-chemical reaction, a taste of compatible pheromones… and it determines more about you to a potential partner than you may have realized. A kiss historically sealed the deal in both business and love, and oftentimes death, but it can also unequivocally disqualify you as a probable mate from that girl you’re trying to woo into the darker recesses of your after-hours room.
Although kisses of affection are mentioned in ancient Greek and Roman literature, it was modern western civilization that popularized and promoted it. The first cinematic kiss created a scandalous uproar that fortified the rally against “moving pictures” in 1896, when Thomas Edison produced The Kiss. The film was all of 47 seconds of silent melodramatic lip pecking by actors whose technique would be put to shame by any seventh grader today. Police action was actually called for in some places it was shown and one newspaper critic wrote, “The spectacle of the prolonged pasturing on each other’s lips was beastly enough in life size on the stage but magnified to gargantuan proportions and repeated three times over it is absolutely disgusting.”
The morally staunch would be turning over in their collective graves if they could see us now, having evolved from the passion of Valentino’s smooches and Greta Garbo’s provocative eyes of the silver screen to HBOs practically uncensored lust in Game of Thrones and Girls.
But it all starts with a kiss and it’s all about the swoon. Although there’s plenty of cinematic direction in learning how it’s done, nothing prepares you for the first kiss after the built-up anticipation, after the flirting, the prolonged gazing, blushing and moving in closer for the kill. It is pure sweetness embodied.
If you’ve never ever been kissed (is there any such creature in this town?), please Google the words “kiss practice,” then meander through the variety of suggestions and techniques, but be sure to click on the short youtube.com video that suggests that positioning your thumbs together mimics two lips that you can practice on. At first, I thought this was a well-done spoof video; however, it is not, which makes it all the more hilarious, except I realized that an entire generation of teens will be in therapy for the rest of their lives if they follow this guide.
For those who think they’ve got it down, there’s always room for improvement, according to the Advanced Kissing Date Camp YouTube video that sports schlocky music and a living room class of disenchanted couples sitting on the floor in front of a blazing fireplace with two rather predictably enraptured, dowdy teachers explaining how to kiss.
Haven’t we evolved enough for canoodling to be instinctive and spontaneously unrehearsed? And if we need experimentation, what was wrong with those innocent teen kissing games played in the basements and rumpus rooms across America? Spin the Bottle? Post Office? Those were excellent clandestine soirees.
Ah, but kiss is dope, literally and figuratively. When you kiss, your brain releases dopamine, which is the same thing that happens if you take cocaine—only legal, cheaper, safer, much longer-lasting and one would hope far more stimulating. A kiss is rich in promise…a true love’s kiss woke Sleeping Beauty and Snow White and turned Beauty’s Beast back into a handsome prince. Many a songwriter has made lucrative residuals from hit singles about kissing. It is culturally encoded in us.
You might not be able to remember what you had for lunch yesterday, but you will undoubtedly remember your first kiss. My first heartfelt kiss was not reciprocal; in fact, it wasn’t actually a real kiss. I smacked onto a full-page magazine photo of Beatle George Harrison (I wasn’t practicing, and abusing my thumbs-as-lips definitely wouldn’t have occurred to me). Harrison was everything the fantasy mind of a Beatle fanatic 13-year-old could want. I was so convinced that George would fall in love with me that I wrote a long story about it detailing our meeting, the concerts, our lives together writing music—filling pages upon pages of a loose-leaf binder that somehow, unfortunately, landed on the desk of my junior high school guidance counselor and for which I was abruptly yanked out of class, then marched to her office and chastised for the offense of being a teenage girl with raging delusional dreams. She tossed my six months of work into her trashcan and as I fought back the tears, she dragged me down the hall and threw me into the school paper’s newsroom, barking at me to do something meaningful. At the time, I didn’t see what could be more significant than having George Harrison realize I was his one and only love after he read my exposé. And because of that damn guidance counselor I’m still paying penance to newspapers.
So would-be lovers, take note—the bottom line is this: You may be gorgeous and even rich, you can weave a spellbinding tale of adventure and promise, serenade with your song, write poetry that would make the angels sigh, entice with the finest dark chocolates and sweetly chat up the night, but in the end it really does all come down to “Just shut up and kiss me.”