I've been thinking a lot about kissing this week.
For the purposes of research (don't ask - but not for the reason you might think) I have finally started reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Am I the only woman in Britain that isn't turned on by it? I am so distracted by the appalling writing that it quite gets in the way of the... ahem, important business. And the most important part of the important business, is to my mind, the kissing. And so far, it is dreadfully disappointing.
I like kissing. In a world where sex has lost its mystique and become the common currency by which all things are sold and measured, kissing seems an almost more intimate expression. Sadly, The Husband and I don't do much of it any more, certainly not of the lip-lock kind. 10 years on and 5 kids later, we tend to stay safely in "peck-on-the-cheek" territory.
Anyway, back to that book. There is an eternity before the hero first kisses our heroine - page 77, to be precise - which of course is a good way of keeping us in suspense. Her agonizing wait includes the immortal line: "My heartbeat has picked up, and my medulla oblongata has neglected to fire any synapses to make me breathe." Good Lord. When he finally gets around to it, he "lunges", "grabs" and "yanks" and then their tongues meet "in a slow, erotic dance that’s all about touch and sensation, all bump and grind."
Hideous. In its prosaic ugliness, it reminds me of kissing spotty Darren from youth club when I was about 14. Darren's understanding of "erotic" was to whirl his tongue around mine for about three minutes, like the spin cycle of a washing machine. I shudder - and not with desire - to think of it. But then, of course, I had nothing to compare it to. Was Darren any good? Were we doing it right? Where does one's nose go?
It was not until years and years and years later that I experienced The Kiss To Which All Other Kisses Will Forever Be Compared.
The kiss that did it for me - and did for me - was, quite simply, shattering. He bit my lip gently and my resolve dissolved. I felt the centre of me contract and collapse. That kiss took all the breath from me and with it all my reasoning. The truth shifted and with it my co-ordinates, all my absolutes. I was left sweet and ragged. My response was so visceral, I shudder - with ravenous desire - to think of it.
Darren and E. L. James take note. Agnes de Mille summed it up, without the bumping and grinding, when she said: "And then I did the simplest thing. I leaned down and kissed him....and the world cracked open."