The Science of Kissing….According to My Daughter

Throughout history, a simple kiss has sparked the fireworks that have created empires and conquered vast armies. Yet who would have thought that something as simple as two sets of lips coming together involves an exacting display of muscle coordination, balance and breathing. Thanks to my 11 year old daughter I learned some valuable lessons about kissing and parenthood.

My daughter came home from school the other day and proudly announced, “I kissed a boy today!” I glanced at the calender. I hadn’t planned on putting her in a monastery for another few years. I guess those plans are going to change. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. Thanks to the day’s lesson in basic anatomy, she learned that we actually have a “kissing muscle”. I didn’t want to interupt her, but doesn’t elementary school biology spend it’s time dissecting frogs?

Better known as the “orbicular oris muscle,” this is the muscle used to pucker the lips. How difficult and unappealing the simple kiss would be if I thought about that each time I got close to my wife. Likewise, my know-it-all daughter learned (although how she learned this in biology is beyond me) that there is actually a law of balance and counter-balance in effect each time we zero in for a smooch. According to her, in order to avoid clashing heads and noses, a couple will often turn their faces to one side or another when kissing, so that their heads are at an angle from one another.

Not satisfied with just reading this in her book, she and her friends had to practice kissing during lunch. When the hall monitor interrupted them, she replied, “We’re doing research!” That’s my daughter.

Thanks to my daughter, I now know that noted psychologist Oner GÃ?¼ntÃ?¼rkÃ?¼n – who observed couples kissing in public places such as parking lots, airports and parks – discovered that when a couple kisses, the direction of turning is more frequently to the right than the left by a 2:1 ratio. GÃ?¼ntÃ?¼rkÃ?¼n described this asymmetry as the “neonatal right side preference”.And here I thought that kissing was only a prelude to getting my wife in a position that owed more to her lying down than standing up. The things kids learn in school today. For a kiss to be successful then, one needs to be light on their feet and apparently not prone to dizzy spells.

I guess I should be happy that my kid was kissing more out of curiosity than out of some hormonal explosion. That’ll happen in time. Unfortunately. As I get older I worry a lot less about how a kiss is constructed. It’s like driving a car. Possibly 20 years of marriage has dimmed the need. Although I’m sure that when I first met my wife, some jock intellect in my subconscious made me review the basic principles kissing that I picked up in a gymnasium or locker room. As I embraced her, I’m certain I didn’t want the kiss to be to sloppy. I didn’t want to make my prospective wife feel that I was a St. Bernard lapping up a bowl of milk. Obviously, I wanted to make sure she kept coming back for more. I also didn’t want to ram my tongue down her throat either. Like all young men, how to kiss her in such a way as to lay the foundation for further intimacy and sex was the goal. Come to think of it, that’s still the goal. Apparently it worked. 20 years later, my wife and I still find the time to share a kiss or two and she doesn’t complain too much.

In the meantime, my daughter and her friends have discovered kissing. In biology class no less. Who said that school isn’t a hall of higher learning. When I straightened this out with the principal I told him I hoped the students – in particular my daughter – didn’t display the same curiosity when the class studied reproduction.

I wonder if I can find a decent monastery listed in the Yellow Pages?

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