Mark returns with his ode to kissing, a pleasure it turns out that is passed down from our prehistoric ancestors. And sometimes, our own lips aren’t even involved in these arousing encounters. From Mae West’s quips to the famous image of the anonymous sailor kissing his dame, what is it about lovers pressing their mouths together that turns our primal yearning selves on?
People are not the only ones to kiss on the lips. Our randy primate cousins, the bonobos, know a French thing or two. References to this simple word, which according to the etymology came into use before 900AD, can be found in the book of Genesis. (Ahh, translations.) Apparently, we’ve enjoyed this particular activity for quite some time.
Mae West once said that a man’s kiss is his signature. Sure, we’d all like to think so, but is anyone really an expert kisser? And Is there such a things as the perfect kiss? I think the answer is a resounding – maybe. Or – it depends. Even Ms. West would have agreed that each mouth and pair of lips are a unique canvas of pleasure, responsive to their own sexual imprinting. I think that’s why the phrase “practice makes perfect” is so misleading.
But I did witness something as close to the perfect kiss once. What can I say? There’s a little voyeur in all of us.
The Long Awaited Kiss
Every couple in which one partner has a career that requires travel has encountered that one separation that is nearly traumatic. He was away on a trip to some place with more pleasant weather and she was left to deal with a car that died in the middle of winter. He was off in a land tens of degrees below freezing, while she dealt with obnoxious children. Then came what seemed to be an amazing opportunity. They would both be able to go to New Zealand. They could afford her ticket and she had a break from college. She had returned to find a better path. The trip would happen at the end of January. There is no better time to get away from New England. Two glorious weeks in the Southern Hemisphere!
Then the trip was extended to three weeks. Ok, she might be able to miss a few days of that week. Then the trip was extended to four weeks. No way. While it didn’t affect the price of the airfare, the impact to her schooling was too severe.
Hopes raised then dashed. Her break smashed against the walls of responsibility. His lonely travel interrupted by a month of exploring a new place with her torn to imaginary shreds. She would be left in New England during what is usually the worst part of the year and he would escape, again, to paradise. She knew his itinerary to get to Auckland would be brutal. A bus ride to Boston. A five hour flight to Los Angeles. Four hours wandering around the airport. 14 hours to Auckland, losing an entire day in the process. He knew that her month would be mundane at best. If it snowed, as expected, it could become an adventure in transportation.
They had learned long ago that his departure was best made at home. She hated watching him walk away from the car at the airport. He hated watching the car pull away from the curbside dropoff. So they agreed that he would wake her just long enough to say goodbye and disappear into the darkness of predawn.
It didn’t help much. He drove to the bus station, feeling more and more isolated with every mile. At the bus station, tickets for the trip to Boston and the return were purchased, followed by the worst part of every trip. Waiting. Wait for the bus. Wait for the plane. Sit in the plane. Wait for the next plane. Sit in the plane. At least this time he’d be traveling through what used to be his home airport. It was little consolation. She should have been with him. Wandering around LAX, he though of her by his side. When Brangelina were spotted rushing through the airport, it barely registered with him. At least the Business Class departure lounge was more comfortable than the ticketing area.
Yes, Business Class is nice. The seats on a flight of that length turn into beds. Almost. The flight left at 9:30 in the evening. The flight attendants rushed through the cabin to serve dinner. Lights were dimmed and several passengers watched movies or played games on their individual screens. He was restless. He was about to sleep alone, again. His body thought it was still only 7pm. None of the movies were of any interest. Eventually, he slept.
He awoke shortly before arriving, not on the next morning, but the morning after that. The International Dateline does funny things to trans-Pacific travel. Through Customs, to a cab, to the hotel. Settle in, walk around, take pictures, go shopping. Get ready to go into the office. Auckland is a beautiful city, that she was supposed to be in with him. Two weeks there, then another flight down to Christchurch. A week there, then another flight to Wellington. While he thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the technicians and seeing the sights, she was only there in spirit.
Finally, the time to return home came. An early morning flight from Wellington to Sydney. A three hour early morning flight. Then seven hours waiting in the airport, unable to leave because Australia requires a special visa for such a visit. At last, the flight from Sydney to San Francisco. He left Wellington Saturday morning and landed in San Fran Saturday morning. One more flight, of five hours to Boston. Wait in the snow for the bus back to Providence. Thanks to the weather, another hour and a half in a box. Finally, finally, back to his own car. At least a small comfort. Driving south, toward home, the loneliness grows, anticipating relief. Is that odd? Perhaps.
He pulls into the space in front of the apartment. Neighbors are out shoveling snow. A few wave and inquire about his absence. “New Zealand? Wow!” As he turns toward the gate, she’s there, standing, smiling, tears freezing to her face. He drops the bags. They walk slowly toward each other, arms extended. He slides his hands inside her coat, slowly wrapping his arms around her. They look into the eyes of their beloved. The moment stretches. The sounds of shovels scraping snow fade. The light frosty kiss of snowflakes upon cheeks diminishes. He searches her face for those little things that make her his. She touches his cheek ever so softly. Peripheral vision fails, no sign of bushes or neighbors or cars or street lights. Only the face. The one from which parted for so long.
He leans closer. Her eyes begin to close. His close instinctively. Their lips touch as feathers upon a cloud. In his head, there is only her. He feels her, in his mind, from head to toe. She tingles. He warms. The overwhelming joy of reunion makes them spin. Lips press more firmly, tongues begin a slow dance. The dance becomes more intense. The spinning becomes whirling.
After what seems an hour of once more becoming acquainted, tears and laughter mingle into a boisterous release for all to see and hear. The spinning and whirling were only in their heads. Their bodies had joined in the ethereal celebration just as their minds had. He realizes how tightly he is holding her and slowly releases her. She slides back down his arms, having risen to her tip toes. They laugh and cry, much to the delight of the next door neighbor. They understand. They’ve been together a long time and still share a wonderful passion.
They turn to go into the apartment. He clears his throat, a bit more loudly than necessary, and catches her attention. He points his pipe at the pile of bags behind them. A kiss like that can make you forget the world.
–verb (used with object)
1. to touch or press with the lips slightly pursed, and then often to part them and to emit a smacking sound, in an expression of affection, love, greeting, reverence, etc.: He kissed his son on the cheek.
2. to join lips with in this way: She kissed him and left.
3. to touch gently or lightly: The breeze kissed her face.
4. to put, bring, take, etc., by, or as if by, kissing: She kissed the baby’s tears away.
–verb (used without object)
6. to join lips in respect, affection, love, passion, etc.: They kissed passionately.
7. to express a thought, feeling, etc., by a contact of the lips: They kissed good-bye at the station.
8. to purse and then part the lips, emitting a smacking sound, as in kissing someone.
10. an act or instance of kissing.
11. a slight touch or contact.
Join the conversation: Tell us your story of that oh-so-special kiss. Was it something you witnessed, or a lip-wrapped gift by your beloved?
All other photos via creative commons
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