Friday, January 6, 2012

On Kissing: What Matters?

Having recently been treated to the company of a sensual and distinguished gentleman, I’ve experienced a most gentle stirring of all things visceral; places tidied up, shelved or ignored. It’s nice. Though I haven’t met him yet – our contact has been limited to the telephone – he brings to our conversations a strong and intriguing presence, and a certain something that I cannot yet identify, but draws me to him.

The other day, he asked me what kind of kissing I liked. Nobody has ever asked me that before, and it got me thinking. It got me thinking about how intimate the act of kissing is, and is in some ways more intimate than intercourse. I thought about past lovers; the ones I felt inclined to kiss, and the ones I did not. I thought about the times that kissing a man repelled me, and what it was about it I didn’t like. I remembered the kisses that made my heart want to burst with joy, or that stopped my world.

As with many other things in my life, it was only with experience and the passage of time that I really got to know, and trust, my deepest of sensibilities. And just as there are thousands of ways to make love, there are just as many ways to kiss somebody. I’ve got a pretty good range, and I’m fairly confident that my technique rivals that. But as most of us know, a good kiss can only go so far without someone responsive on the other end. And responsiveness is limited by what we are willing to experience.

I’ve had some decent kisses in my time, a few of them pretty hot. But my quest for the Holy Grail continues, and by that I refer not so much to an ideal but to a quality; something open and dynamic, an eroticism born of both heart and passion. That I am entering my “second adulthood” is fuel for that inspiration. I’ll be 50 this year, and I am far keener than I ever was to nuance. I’m ready for a whole new world of kissing, and for the first time in my life I’m beginning to feel I deserve it. To be desired sexually is one thing, but to be kissed, by someone who longs to kiss you – that is quite another.

That’s just me. So when he asked me that question, I did my best to answer it. I was shy. I like almost kissing, I told him, those tentative moments. But I also like ones that are sure; kisses deep, raw and lustful. So much of it depended on the mood, I told him. I tried to be eloquent, not sure how I fared. Inside, in my most private fantasies, I roamed. I imagined kisses that tantalize, or dance on the edge of something. I imagined foreheads kissing in tender communion. And I thought about the soft animal kiss; the one that explores, or indulges a primal yearning.

I remember the time that Adrien Brody surprised Halle Berry at the Oscars with a passionate kiss when she went up to accept her award. I remember the way he held her, and cradled her head. It reminded me of the way Clark Gable kissed Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind. We don’t see that style much any more. A lot of big screen kisses look and feel similar to me, even when there is chemistry. We live in an era of “everything you need to know about kissing” books. Maybe we need them because the average person lacks imaginative kissing abilities. While I’d be the first in a room to pick up a book on the “art of kissing” out of sheer curiosity, I think courage of heart matters more than skill.

At least in our later years, when hopefully, performance gives way to an earthly presence, and kissing becomes an expression of something that really matters.