Science says that like fingerprints, no two lip impressions are identical. I say no two kisses are the same. Growing up as part of a generation that has been taught to doubt everything from religion to the government to our parents’ beliefs, I don’t believe in much; but I do believe in kissing.
I used to run and jump into my dad’s arms laughing hysterically as he tickled me and planted kisses all over my face: kisses of innocent joy. I remember sitting on the swings when Chris ran up to me and for the first time ever, someone softly pecked his lips against mine before sprinting away as fast as he could: kisses of curiosity. Meeting a friend of any of the adults in my life usually requires me to bump my jaw against the cheek of the newcomer: kisses of formality. Practicing by caressing my lips against the back of my hand, or my pillow, or my favorite teddy bear in case the cute boy in math class decides he likes me: kisses of dreams.
My favorite kind of kisses, however, didn’t start until much later in life. They’re the kisses you wish someone secretly videotaped so that you could watch them again later in the privacy of your own room just to remember every detail (and maybe to make sure you didn’t look stupid to the outside observer.) They’re the kisses that keep you up at night wondering if he’s thinking about you too, the kisses that cause fourteen-year-old girls to stop by the Bridal Magazine section in Borders sure that “he’s the one,” kisses that make girl talk worthwhile.
The sole purpose of kissing is pleasure. Kissing serves no procreative function. No boss ever demands his employees kiss; unless you’re talking about Woody Allen telling Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson to writhe around passionately in a field during a downpour, and I strongly doubt either of them put up much of a fight. I kiss because it makes me feel alive. Sometimes I feel loved, sometimes admired, sometimes bored, but every time I kiss someone it reminds me that human beings are capable of a love with a purpose far greater than merely repopulating the planet. We kiss because we care.
I haven’t even begun to experience all of the multitudes of kissing possibilities that exist, but I hope a hit a few key ones before I die. Kissing someone and feeling it completely take my breath away because I’m so helplessly in love: kisses of Betty Everett’s immortal theme: It’s in His Kiss. Smiling as he leans towards me over the altar after hearing the words “you may now kiss the bride”: kisses of promise. Touching my lips to the head of newborn the nurse just placed in my arms: kisses of bonding. Ending that same child’s tears as I miraculously kiss a boo-boo better: kisses of magic. Kissing is more than lust or even love. Kissing is a connection to the soul.
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