Kiss for long or long for kiss:
So what is this about kissing anyway?  As a southerner I was experienced in kissing before my age hit double digits.  But there was the down side, the dreaded kissing of relatives I hardly knew.  Regularly this or that middle aged distant aunt or cousin would decide, as soon as I had been presented and named, that this would be a splendid time to crush my face into her ample bosom and hold me as I struggled to free up and breathe.  I was sort of an animated Ben Wa ball and am now heartily glad the analogy was not closer. 

Some, I understand, find being smothered to be sexually arousing; I don’t.  My parents were pleasant enough to kiss, but I dreaded it from anybody else. 

Along in my third decade I did my share of kissing girls.  But by then I was so strong that there was no danger of smothering.  I still did not recognize how important kissing is in courtship.  Is it instinctive?

The National Geographic offers an opinion.  (Eve Conant, A Kiss Isn’t Just a Kiss, National Geographic vol. 229 no. 2 February. 2016 page 24 or thereabouts; they are not very helpful in their page numbering) One thing you can count on with NG, is that they will give you what they consider to be mainstream.  The logic is that they surveyed 168 cultures and found that only 46% included kissing as part of their social history.  I guess that would be 77 confessing kissing.  Oh, yes.  The study was headed up by William Jankowiak of the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, that citadel of mainstream, wholesome sexuality. 

Particularly it was the cultures of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Amazon jungles that did not participate. 

So, the study seems to have concluded, kissing is of recent origin and is just a status symbol.  Hmm.  “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.”  That’s from the Song of Solomon.  It must be as old as Solomon, assuming such a man really and truly existed.  It might be a lot older.  King Henry VIII of England claimed to have written the glorious song, “Green Sleeves,” and there was nobody who was going to contradict him at the time – what do you say to a man who beheads his own wives?  Solomon once offered to have a baby hacked in two because two women couldn’t agree as to which of them was the mother.   If the song was ancient, Solomon might have claimed it as his own somehow. 

So if kissing is recent it isn’t all that recent.  Sure, it’s recorded under conditions of high status; they’re the ones who record things. 

So I suspect kissing is quite ancient indeed. The friendly dog next door is most interested in licking my mouth when I pass by to say hi.  He hasn’t quite figured out the beard. 

But if kissing goes back to the common ancestor of dogs and people, why not farther.  It seems to me it would be a jolly good way to salute a potential partner if we were all wormy things crawling around in the primordial ooze.  Maybe we share the impulse with plants.  A flower, as we have all been taught, is designed to attract insects; it has color and fragrance an insect might recognize at a distance.   And it is soft so as to let the insect push its way around among the petals.  But it seems like overkill.  Does it really have to go to such lengths to attract an insect that is eager to accept the bribe of the nectar?  The combination is beauty and something sweet to sip in a reproductive setting we share with flowers, and insects can read the code. 

The study is a bit suspect to me.  Ask about kissing and you might call up a taboo.  And if you counted number of people rather than number of cultures, maybe you’d reach a different conclusion.

Watch this space.  I don’t think we’ve heard the last of it yet.

There have been 182 visitors over the past month and YouTube has rolled “Babies Triumph over Evil” 207 times.

Home page