History of Love

The Art of Kissing Comes Naturally

kissing apes
Photo from TimothyJ

I’d like to know who it was that first thought, “hey, wouldn’t it be a fabulous if, at the same time as I kiss what’s her face on the mouth, I just stick my tongue out?”

I mean, it doesn’t really sound like a brilliant idea on paper. Is that one of those romantic things that were blamed on the all too convenient excuse: “it just…happened”?

I was introduced to the concept of the French kiss in second grade by one of my classmates who had just engaged her teenage babysitter in a rapid-fire Q&A session.

Classmate: It’s when you and your boyfriend stick your tongues in each other’s mouths at the same time.

Me: Ew!… And then what do you do?

Classmate: Well, you both move yours around.

Me: Really? Why?

Classmate: You’ll understand what it means when you’re older.

Now that I’m officially “older, ” I have to admit that I still don’t get it; sharing my tongue with my significant other still seems like a pretty ridiculous thing to do, regardless of whether I do it or not. Not to mention that for a long time after that informative discussion in third grade, I remained pretty repulsed by the idea – probably because I thought about it much too vividly, picturing the act countless times from the vantage point of my uvula.

But then again, I’ve always had a sort of phobia about other people’s saliva; the idea of sharing a drinking glass with anyone used to nauseate me – that is, up until I became acquainted with the college party scene (which, coincidentally, was when I stopped trying to visualize things from my uvula’s perspective).

Anyway, back to my original query: Who was this kissing innovator? For obvious reasons, I first looked to France for an answer; it appears, though, that the French don’t have any claim to the so-called “French” kiss, just as that which Americans call “french fries” did not originate in France.

And, after combing through different internet resources, it appears as though there’s no well-documented history of the French kiss evolution.

So I’ve settled upon my own theory: Primitive man made it up.

According to Thierry Lodé, a French biologist and professor of evolutionary biology, humans “tongue kiss” (the technical name for a French Kiss) to test a potential mate’s immune defenses. Therefore, I’d guess humans took up the activity prior to sophisticated communication, or else they’d probably just ask one another something like, “Hey hot stuff. How’s your health?” Plus, as far as I know, humans don’t really tend to criticize someone’s kissing style based on how healthy they perceive their make out partners to be.

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