originally published May 18, 2013
Rather than compose an elegant piece of lyrical prose about the subject of kissing, I think I’ll just rattle off a bunch of trivia using my old trusty friend, the bullet-point list. Is it laziness? Sleepiness? An unanticipated delay in the drugs taking effect? Maybe a little of all three, but the reality is, there are simply too many points worth mentioning when it comes to the world of kissing.
For example, did you know that the act of kissing actually predates the formation of the band KISS? The internet is full of all kinds of fascinating bits of information like this.
So now, without further ado (because fuck ado… there’s too much ado in the world today), let’s wet our lips, stretch our tongues (don’t want to pull anything), and go gum-to-gum with the wild world of smoochery.
- One of the origin stories for the mistletoe kiss comes from Norse mythology. A goddess named Frigg gave birth to a vowel-challenged son named Baldr. She magically made all plants unable to hurt him, but forgot the mistletoe plant. Loki, always a son-of-a-bitch, talked another god into killing Baldr with a mistletoe spear. The gods brought Baldr back to life and Frigg decided mistletoe should bring love into the world, not death. And so we kiss underneath it, in order to remind ourselves that Loki is a dick.
- We’ve all given a New Year’s kiss at some point, and possibly cried a little when Harry and Sally kissed on New Year’s Eve in that movie. Not me of course, but I’m sure that men who lack my ridiculous machismo have teared up at least slightly. Anyway, at a Scottish Hogmanay party (their New Year’s bash), it’s tradition to kiss everyone in the room after midnight hits. The Scots know how to party, and they know how to spread their communicable diseases.
- Since the Pope is considered to be the successor of the Apostle Peter, who was known as a ‘fisher of men’, each pontiff is given his own Ring of the Fisherman when he takes… office? Command? I don’t know what the expression is here. Anyway, the ring has the pope’s name and an image of Peter in a fishing boat on solid gold. That’s the ring people kiss when they pay their props to the guy in the big hat.
- Bishops get their own rings too, and it’s proper tradition to lay a wet one on the episcopal ring when you happen upon a bishop. If you’d like to snag one of these for yourself without going through all that hard Christian-y labor to become a bishop, you can simply buy one on eBay for $72.50. Then you can pick up a red robe, and feel free to… (will I make a molestation joke here? Or will I go for a move-diagonally chess joke?)
- There has been one documented case of HIV being transmitted by a kiss. Both parties had gum disease though, so it’s believed that the virus was transmitted via blood, not saliva. I’m sorry we all had to read that.
- Jewish law prohibits kissing anyone of the opposite sex, unless they are your spouse or certain close relatives. Wow – it’s a good thing my love for bacon turned me off of following Jewish law long ago. Sorry, Grandma.
- In unleashing a kiss, you are putting 34 facial muscles and 112 postural muscles to work, all in a coordinated movement. If it’s a French kiss, the tongue muscles add to that number, which leads me to believe that kissing is an effective workout regimen. I’m going to stick with that, and hope that making out with my wife will be enough to counteract all that bacon I eat.
- The 1896 film The Kiss, distributed by Thomas Edison’s company, is nothing more than 30 seconds of two people kissing. It caused an outcry. One critic called it disgusting, saying, “such things call for police interference.” I’m sure if that critic had been shown the sex-for-drug acts in the final few minutes of Requiem For A Dream, he would have exploded.
- On Valentine’s Day of this year, a couple from Bangkok broke the record for the world’s longest kiss, lasting 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds. Now that will work off some serious bacon.
- Here’s the piece of trivia that will stick to the roof of your mouth (so to speak) today. Among the Manchu people of China, kissing in public was considered vulgar and sexual. To show affection to their children, mothers would perform fellatio on their male babies, which was somehow not considered a sexual act. They would do this in public. Wikipedia cites five academic sources for this – I’m afraid this is actually a thing.
- The air kiss is a more casual social thing, and a good way to avoid cooties. In the Philippines, older relatives will air-kiss their younger relative’s cheek, exhaling gently through the nose when they get within range, but avoiding any face-to-face contact. Over in Indonesia and Malaysia, it’s the younger set who air-kisses their elders’ hands.
- The French kiss was so named because the belief among westerners that the French are a little bit wilder when it comes to sexing it up. Biologists tell us the intertwining of tongues allows us to explore one another’s immune systems, in order to avoid others with too much genetic relatedness. But where’s the sexy in that?
- All sorts of animals, from dogs to bears to birds to moose engage in similar acts. I found a number of photos that prove this to be true, and it occurs to me that it’s probably a good thing I’m Googling these things with my SafeSearch turned on.
- According to Daryl Hall, Eddie Van Halen totally ripped off the synth line from “Kiss On My List” and used it in the Van Halen song “Jump.” Not particularly relevant, but it’s kind of interesting.
- Lots of kissing has been scientifically linked to lower cholesterol levels, lower stress, and a boost to the cardiovascular system through the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine. A hardcore kiss can burn 2-3 calories per minute. That kills my burning-off-the-bacon theory, I suppose.
So there you have it – a myriad of quirky trivia related to that simple little expression of affection / respect / horniness. Now if only I can find a way to forget what I learned about Manchu parental customs today, I might just be able to get in the mood for some kissing. Wow.