Wednesday, May 11, 2005

"Kiss me..."

I heard a Bonnie Raitt song, yesterday. I've heard it before, but this time the phrase "...and you haven't even kissed me, yet" stuck in my mind.

Something about the word "yet"...So very loaded, such implications of inevitability.

Just because I'm an etymology weirdo, there is this:
kiss (v.)
O.E. cyssan "to kiss," from P.Gmc. *kussijanan (cf. O.S. kussian, O.N. kyssa, O.Fris. kessa, Ger. k├╝ssen), from *kuss-, probably ultimately imitative of the sound. The O.E. noun was coss, which became M.E. cuss, but this yielded to kiss, from the verb.
For vowel evolution, see bury. There appears to be no common I.E. root word for "kiss," though suggestions of a common ku- sound may be found in the Gmc. root and Gk. kynein "to kiss," Hittite kuwash-anzi "they kiss," Skt. cumbati "he kisses."
Kissing seems such a weird thing to do; and the emotions a kiss evokes, all out of proportion to the mechanics of the behavior, itself. We write songs about it, we fantasize about that first kiss, we hang all kinds of expectations and conditions and idealizations around the very idea of that kiss.

I'm not talking about the other kinds of kisses: the frosting-smeared toddler kiss; the papery, little-old-lady, grandmother kiss; the soothing kiss your mother planted on your forehead when you were small, and didn't feel well. Not the kiss from your long-time lover, partner, and friend. Although those are all lovely kisses, too.

I have it on good authority that the generation just after mine indulges in make-out sessions as sort of a recreational pastime. I'm not even talking about those kisses. Although I think that's great. And I'm sort of jealous. And I think the behavior signals a fairly radical cultural change--but that's an entry for another day.

It's a kiss related to the cathartic movie-kiss, when it finally happens; when you've known throughout the whole movie that it would happen, it should happen, these people need to just kiss, for chrissakes, and all those plot complications will magically resolve so nicely...

It's also related to the off-limits kiss: The kiss from that married-or-otherwise-unavailable-friend, the one you're crazy about, but haven't let yourself wonder about kissing. The kiss that you never anticipated, because you couldn't imagine where or how it would ever happen, but then it's New Year's Eve, and you zoom in for the quick, friendly smooch, and suddenly the paradigm shifts--drops out from beneath your feet--and the kiss is over, and you're staring at each other, and someone's spouse is pissed...

I'm talking about that kiss--the kiss in your mind, when you're starting to think about what it might be like to kiss someone specific. Someone you've never kissed before. Someone who hasn't kissed you, yet.

That kiss, when you wonder about someone you know, when you imagine their lips and tongue, and you wonder if they're any good at kissing, anyway.

That kiss we write songs about. The kiss we remember, years later.

I was talking to a friend about the whole kissing thing, this morning. I said that I thought the kiss in your mind was much more powerful than the actuality. She asked me who the hell can hold out that long? "If I sense it's coming, I just go for it," she said.

She also observed that's why the first few seconds before the first kiss are so sexy.

That "kiss me" instant...


Anonymous said...

Nice Mac. :)

My first kiss like that was when I was 14. It was after my first official date with Laurie Simmons. We'd gone ice skating together a few times, where the highlight of the evening was when the loudspeaker announced "5 minutes left." This was my cue to summon up my courage and hold her hand for the last couple of laps around the rink.

I was always afraid she'd shun my hand this time but she never did.

Anyway, we went to a grad dance at school. Pretty big deal. I think we maybe danced twice. All I could think about was "do I kiss her at the door tonight?"

I did. And got so rubber-legged from that brief, sweet lip-press that as I turned to go I nearly pitched headfirst off her porch. I literally couldn't see. All my senses were on overload.

Thank God for railings. I clutched it and made my stumbling, graceless exit.

My mother was waiting in the car to drive me home. She must have talked. I probably responded. But a goodly portion of me was still on Laurie's back porch. I think maybe part of me still is.

Column fodder maybe eh? ;)


Anonymous said...

Hey Mac, do I detect a kiss lurking in your mind? I have never seen sooo much written about a kiss. (songs repeat)-DD

Mac said...

Frank--it sounds like a terrific column. That whole class of first kisses stands all by itself in import. :)

DD--Heh, I barely scratched the surface of the things to be said about kisses...

.:J.r.A.:. said...

It is unfortunate that you are correct in your observation of this generations make-out sessions. Like violence, we seem to have become desensitized to romance and feelings. The making out of today is somewhat equivalent to the holding hands of yesterday.

Insightful entry, thank you.

Ray Wong said...

I love kisses. The big, sloppy ones, or the little, gentle ones. Doesn't matter. You can kiss me anytime, my friend.

Anonymous said...

I love the Bonnie Raitt song you reference in the post just after this one (more current). She's so great for singing in the car.

Anyway - about the kiss you describe - I just watched Spanglish last night. Wasn't that thrilled with it but it's got a lot of pregnant with kisses moment. Those were my favorite moments in the movie. And Paz Vega -wow.

Anonymous said...

You've reminded me of things I'd forgotten. Will I be able to make it go back to sleep now that you've awakened it? It's been such a long time gone.....