From the insincere 'mwah-mwah' of the socialite to one of the most moving and personal embraces of all, kissing appears to be part of every human culture. Kissing is deeply intimate but it can also be a way of avoiding intimacy; if you are kissing, you don't have to do any of that awkward talking stuff, and some kisses are so excruciating you never want to see the person concerned ever again.
Kisses seduce, they beguile, they promise, they lead on, and sometimes they betray.
What follows is a brief survey of Researchers' experiences of kisses, good, bad, embarrassing, funny, and some of them downright disgusting.
Most of us, it seems, can remember our first kiss, so let's start this selection as young as can be and cute as kittens...
I still have the photograph. I must have been about three years old. The story as it was handed down to me was that we pulled into the driveway, and got out of the car, when I and a winsome three-year-old lass spotted each other. We ran to each other as if in some cheesy soap opera, slow-motion like, and some witnesses swear they heard an orchestra in the background.
... however most of us make a clear distinction between childhood kisses and adult kisses. A number of boys, it seems, receive their first kiss from girls who seem sophisticated and much older in comparison:
First 'proper' kiss was on a boat on Windermere while on a sailing jaunt with the local church. I was 15, she was 18 and it was all rather exciting until we got busted by the vicar.
Ah, sweet Margaret Moffat, neighbour and country girl, in, of all romantic places, the hay loft of my parent's small farm. Sweet blue eyes, blonde hair and older woman ways! (14 to my 12)
The naming of names and keeping track of the kisser can be part of the nostalgia of first kisses.
... On a stone bridge over a river in the Cotswolds, I was 16, (a late starter), very drunk, and it was the party at the end of an amateur production of A Winter's Tale. He sold me my first car, married a girl from my village, and now works for the Church.
... 1959, probably with Joy Taylor, though it could have been Diane Adcocks - they were my two girlfriends. We were just five years old. I often wonder how Diane got along as a teenager...
... Back row of a theatre (cultured, me) with a girl who rejoiced in the surname 'Murgatroyd'. Great kisser. She dumped me for my best friend, which didn't seem to affect our friendship at all, oddly.
For others, it seems, they are simply not memorable:
To be honest it was that long ago, I really can't recall.
Others are alarmingly public:
My first kiss was actually onstage in the high school play. In rehearsals we'd just say, 'This is where you kiss', and go on. The kiss on opening night wasn't much of a kiss though, just a peck on the lips really.
First kisses can be bemusing and confusing...
... In a cricket shed in Keelby. I was staying with my grandma, I was about eight. I went out to play with the village kids, and one, Michael Crowson, took me in the cricket shed and asked me to kiss him. I was so shocked I didn't protest when he grabbed me. It was just a hard closed-mouth kiss, and I remember thinking 'Why did he do that?'
... A woman in the Gulf of Mexico. I can't think of her name. She was in Florida for the weekend from Alabama and we hung out. We were playing in the surf. We started hugging and she put my hand on her breast. Shortly after that, I got the idea that kissing might be in order. Sometimes, I'm a little slow in social situations. What's sad, is that that isn't the last time that happened.
... When I was six, in kindergarten. We played House and a boy named Heike gave me a French one. Gave me quite a turn, really.
... or they can be a temptation to future indiscretion...
... On a bus, aged 15. He's a policeman now and sometimes on the telly. We met up again at a reunion a couple of years ago.
... or a hint of things to come...
... School disco, at about 13 years old. Can't remember her name, but can remember the delightful confusion. I knew in that moment that there was a lifetime of exhilaration ahead of me.
... and once they get the hang of it, it seems some gals just can't stop...
David M, he was my boyfriend from the age of four to about seven. We used to play this game we called 'Tongue to tongue'. I was also designated kisser for all the girls when we played 'kiss-chase' in the playground - they were all too scared to kiss the boys so I ended up having to kiss every boy they caught!
However, many first kisses are not the best:
12. Park. P***ed. Grotty, equally p***ed 12-year-old. 'Nuff said.
... First: Local bike named Tracey, in a tent.
Worst: Tracey in the tent again.
Opinions differ on what constitutes a late starter and it appears to be something that a lot of us are defensive about. Adolescence seems to go on for ever at it is, without the feeling that everyone else is getting some and you are not getting any. What exactly constitutes a late start varies from place to place:
Different cultures, different schools, even different clubs (like scouts/youth clubs, not nightclubs) can dictate different ages for a first kiss. In my locality and among my mates I was a late starter at 13. But seeing as the teenage pregnancy rate round here is huge that ain't a good thing...
Even so, not everyone is kissed and kissed again before they actually hit their teens:
... 17 - he was lush and still is!
... First was 1 July, 1993, I was 18. First date and first shag came along the following week. It was a good week!
... Age 18, in my boyfriend's parents' Cadillac, slobbery and uninspired, after all that anticipation.
... I was 18, first night out after turning 'legal'. His name was Danny; I thought he was the cutest boy in the bar. He had a cool top on and was a fantastic dancer. I was sitting down with him and his cousins (my friend who had taken me out 'disappeared' with some boy earlier in the night, leaving me on my lonesome in on of the most notorious night clubs in Melbourne!) and we kissed. He was also the first boy to propose to me...
Being the kind of guy I am, it wasn't until I was 19. I had been visiting a girl I couldn't figure out whether she liked me or not. And as I was about to step on the bus back, she asked me if I didn't want to kiss her.
First would be in college - very late starter - with a girl I'd been pining for for a while. I did that a lot, and this one happened to notice and return the intention.
This should be 'most recent kiss', really, but it wouldn't fit the title.
With this category the world divides very sharply into those who are in important relationships, those who have families, and those who don't. A lot of these show the importance of each and every kiss in loving relationships.
.. Before I left for work tonight I kissed all my family. (I've learned that we never know which will be our last kiss, so always kiss my loved ones goodbye.)
... Last kiss was my 'good morning, beautiful' start-the-day-off kiss for Liz this morning. She was dashing off to work and I have got a day off work to be ill, but I aim never to miss one kiss.
Important relationships are not only sexual, of course.
My cat Charlie. I love cat kisses. It makes me all warm and happy when an animal shows real affection.
My older son, after he visited for Sunday lunch. I got a huge hug too.
Goodnight to younger daughter a couple of hours ago. She can melt hearts when she puts her mind to it.
My beloved little niecie-pie Gabrielle...
This category also gives us a snap-shot of human encounters, erotic, transactional, social and hopeful.
Actually it was a real From Here to Eternity moment, complete with rolling in the surf etc...
... A lapdancer called Candy. In Sheffield on a stag night. I'd paid for the groom-to-be to have a dance and she gave me a quick peck.
... In the Bierkellar, this odd boy in a white t-shirt. Tried to get in my knickers, so I ran away.
A little less then two weeks ago. I was at the pub with some mates and we'd 'adopted' a boy (he was all alone, so we let him hang out with us). His name was Chris. As I was leaving I asked for a hug (I'm a hugger from way back!) and he asked for a kiss. I said yes... why not?
Sir Anthony Aguecheek has one of the great lines of pathos in all of literature when he says: 'I was adored too, once'1. The fact that your last kiss is your last kiss can be very painful.
Too long ago to remember (sigh - my fault or his fault?)
A much more elusive category this one:
The best kiss is yet to come. I know who, just not where, when or how.
The best kiss is the one I never have the bottle to go through with; with - to quote a certain bottle-blonde - the rising music, and the rising... music.
Certainly many best kisses are much sweeter for being long-awaited or thwarted in some other way:
... Best kiss was about two years ago now... used the most appalling chat up line on one of the most intoxicating girls I've ever met - couldn't stop thinking about her for about six months even though I knew she was off limits due to long-term boyfriends. Lying on her bed (fully clothed, I hasten to add) chatting into the small hours, she leaned across and kissed me on the cheek in a way that sent my entire body into sensory overload ... dagnabbit!
... The first one with my current man - we had met a few weeks before and hit it off. He took over a job I had been doing and I found an excuse to come back for some 'knowledge transfer' and to go out with my old team. We all went out that evening, toured a number of pubs and ended up sitting next to each other in the last pub of the night. There was that static between us but we couldn't do anything about it because we were sat at a table full of other people. They slowly drifted home until there were only three people left, and the other chap was not getting the hint. To make matters worse, after a night boozing he didn't even seem to need the loo at all, just sat there staring at us. After what felt like several hours of torture it was eventually his round, and the second he left the table we sort of fell into one another.
... I will never forget the day this happened. A girl I had been in love with for many years asked to meet me out of the blue. She had a boyfriend at the time and the two of them were part of my current circle of friends. She met me in town and basically told me that despite seeing said fella for a good four years, it was actually me she wanted. Cue buckling legs, etc. We went to a pub close by and sat and talked for nearly an hour. Halfway through the conversation she just stopped me and said 'I want to kiss you'. We kissed, and it was the most unbelievable feeling. It was straight out of a movie where everything else fades and you're the only two people in the universe. She had the softest lips I've ever felt and it was like being kissed by a whisper. Still gives me goose bumps thinking about it.
Like the previous kiss, many best kisses are when the world stands still:
... First kiss with my soul mate. The only man I have ever met that could shut out the world when he kissed. He gave me 100% of his attention, no thinking about what comes next or what came before. The kiss was the world. We were suspended in time. 100% grounded in the moment.
... With the girl I spent two years with. We kissed in a kind of harmony that was bliss.
Stolen kisses are also sweeter:
The best kiss? This would just have to be a forbidden kiss, wouldn't it? I was out drinking with work colleagues and there was this chap who could just melt me with his accent, but he was a good deal more important than me and 15 years older (doesn't look it honestly) we just got closer and closer when we were chatting (it was noisy in the bar, I couldn't hear him) then I blew very gently into his ear whilst I was talking! He actually made a groaning noise, grabbed me by the hand and dragged me to the taxi rank and back to his. It was just horny as hell...
Sheer animal chemistry is important in many best kisses:
A guy called Andy on East Croydon station. I was 18, he was 28. We had flirted with each other all afternoon and evening in the pub and when we went to go home we snogged for Britain on the platform. It was soooo sexy! He had the most wonderful bum I've ever squeezed.
The week before I started my second year at uni. Some random Goth chick at the Krazy House in Liverpool who just grabbed me, dragged me to the nearest fire exit and snogged me silly for about five minutes while her friends just stood there and watched. I guess I was the victim of a bet, but what a bet! Never found out who she was though.
There is a dilemma over whether sensual kisses are better than passionate ones:
Several from my wife, but none I can name individually. She's usually a light kisser, but every once in a while there is one that speaks of passion, desire, and animal lust. Those are kinda nice.
Some best kisses are the best for what can only be called technical reasons:
... Up a tree when I was 17 with a cousin of a friend who was from the big city. The joys of finally figuring out what the tongues actually did, rather than fencing.
... It was what I can only describe as an 'inverted' kiss. I was sitting on sofa, my girlfriend was sitting on the floor between my legs with her back to me. She then leaned back, whilst I leaned forward, and we kissed. It worked really well, and we were both happy for it to go on and on and on, which was easy as there was no clashing of noses and stuff so breathing whilst kissing was easy.
And of course romantic settings or film noir weather can play their part:
A lovely little smooch on the banks of the Rhône with the sun rising, catching the Pont St Benezet in the arms of a very charming and very Gallic man.
Another one I remember fondly is snogging (there is no other word for it) in the rain in Tottenham Court Road, when a beggar came up, asked for some money which we gave her, and then she said, 'You make a very lovely couple.' We didn't, but it is still a fond memory.
Many reported that the best kissers are definitely the girls - the following are all from female Researchers:
... In my experience, kissing women is a much softer, sensual experience than kissing guys... maybe the boys could take a few tips from the ladies?
... From a divinely beautiful woman I met at a club, kissing her was like floating in beauty and soft silky petals.
... A close mate of mine - I was protecting her from a crazy boy who was after her. First person I ever had to stoop to kiss (how do boys do that all the time?), but definitely the best - so far...
If it helps guys, I like kissing men more, especially when there is a little stubble there. But kissing girls is exciting. They are all so pretty. Especially the blonde ones.
Girls are soft and curvy and smell sweet. Guys are sharp and edgy and smell... well, sweaty... that's not right, I love my hubby's sweaty smell. Guys have a different smell.
Some kisses say more than words ever can:
... The first one I gave my girlfriend as it told her better than words that I loved her.
... The first time I kissed hubby - good job we were sat down or I would have fallen over.
A very gentle and tearful one from my wife on a hospital bed. (Which I thought was going to be my last.)
Then there is the 'Time Warp' kiss, also known as the 'oh s**t kiss', so called because in the words of The Rocky Horror Show, 'Nothing will ever be the same.' The following all answer the question 'Have you ever kissed anyone and found yourself on a wholly different plane of existence/planet/universe afterwards to the one you started the kiss in?'
...The long-anticipated first kiss from my hubby, which was planted tenderly on the top of my head and made me go weak at the knees!
... My own version of the 'oh s**t' moment was when I was at this house party and a guy who I had been friends with, but never thought of as anything else, was also there. We were sitting in the garden, just the two of us, chatting, when just for no reason, we both stopped talking and leant in to kiss. It was a real 'oh s**t' moment as I wasn't too sure what was happening, or why, just that I didn't want it to end...
... It was a friend's birthday and we had all gone clubbing. We were dancing to a slow song at the end of the night - this is practically the first time we had come into contact that night and I must inform you of no sexual attraction prior to this night. We both seemed quite taken to the song, which I cannot remember now due to the following event. We were kissing. Don't ask me how or why, we just were. And it was great. And I did think 'oh s**t!' We stayed together for two years and may possibly get together again (we were young then).
... After a date, on which I was a perfect gentleman (well, nearly), there was a goodnight kiss before I left which promised so much it left me tingling for a week. It was so good that I was quite distracted when I went to see my girlfriend a couple of days later. Needless to say, she wasn't my girlfriend for very much longer. And the kisser who promised me so much... just brought me a cuppa.
... Lots of contenders for this (I'm a popular boy) but it's got to go to Liz. She has given me better kisses but this was our first. I was a drunk as a lord and high as a kite and I'd begun to slur my words so I thought it was best to stop speaking and went for a kiss to cover the embarrassing silence. To be honest I half expected her to back away, it was our first date after all. To my surprise the target started to smile; this was a big help because the white teeth glinting in the street light gave me something to home in on. It went on till I had to break off to mutter, 'Excuse me a minute please' and go behind a transit van and part company with everything I'd eaten and drank for the past few hours... The best part was that she was still there when I came back.
Which brings us neatly on to our final category.
Worst kisses are the worst for a variety of reasons. We will get the truly disgusting ones out of the way quickly. If you are of a squeamish disposition, read about the next two with your eyes closed.
New Year's Eve, 1993. Hubby and I were roaring drunk, and I threw up in his mouth. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one to have done it - although I'd rather I was one of those who haven't. It might be a bit amusing now, but at the time I was so embarrassed I could've died. What amazes me is the poor guy still married me a couple years later... I probably would have chucked me.
Worst kiss has to be in bed with a drunk and amorous Ex who insisted dancing the mattress mambo even though I strongly suspected she was in no fit state. I, being drunk too, quickly abandoned my caution and began to get into it. She was sitting astride me and bent over to deliver the old familiar tongue sandwich. Unfortunately this one also contained prawns, carrots and lashings of stomach bile dressing.
The problem of course is that mouths are used for breathing, talking, eating, drinking and smoking as well as kissing. The best advice about this category is summed up with elegant simplicity:
... Smokers, lager drinkers. Just say no.
And here are the reasons why:
A boy that tasted like an ashtray. Even though I smoke, he tasted like s**t!
We went for a walk on the beach and he turned round and kissed me - only he still had his chewing gum in his mouth! I ended up with it! Yuk!
Some people should simply not be allowed out kissing without proper training, a test, and a licence:
First we have the slobberers:
This one's a toss up between a girl called Hannah and Mr 'Stick your tongue out 'n' dribble furiously before you've even met lips'!
A one night stand who thought tongue kissing meant licking my face with a slobbery tongue. Yeech! (I've had better kisses from my dog!)
Then the strange tongue techniques:
A girlfriend at school, I was 15, she must have had a motor on her tongue. It was awful. Ditched her within a week.
... Another memorably bad kisser was one of my best mate's cousins... round and round and round and...
... My first French kiss, when I was 13. I swear the girl was trying to inhale my face, and possibly lick my epiglottis.
Probably with this guy who I actually really liked, but man was he a bad kisser! It was like kissing a black hole, his tongue kind of disappeared and left you sort of hanging. I kissed him again four years later, and I can report that he hadn't improved, sadly.
And the biters:
... The one night stand (well, kinda one night stand-ish) I had on the weekend after my 18th birthday. He was way too rough. I hate that.
... When the person I was kissing opened his mouth so wide I thought he was going to literally bite my head off.
... My first one... his unusual teeth technique took all the skin off my top lip!
... Dodgy date a few years back. Let's just say it was a tad moist, and uncontrollable teeth (she bit my tongue which was quite painful.)
... Some of these can haunt you for a very long time:
... A robust Scottish woman who was intent on pulling my tongue out by the roots. Best we not discuss it further, the rest of the experience is only fit for my analyst.
... Some guy named Lenny who was a mate of a guy my sister was seeing at the time. The suction was overwhelming! I could hardly get away from it! It was over five years ago, and it still haunts me....
... I was about 14 and gave some money to a tramp who then gave me a great slobbery wet kiss. It took me about 25 years to start giving money to beggars again.
... On the other hand, there are some people one simply should not kiss in the first place:
Urrghh, 16. P***ed, long haired, greasy creature grabs me in grotty club, bodily lifts me up and sticks huge swollen tongue in my gob. We went out for three weeks.
You may not be able to get pregnant from kissing, but it does carry risks of its own:
The worst must go to the random female who kissed me at about 3am on 1 January, 1999 - she gave me the worst dose of 'flu I have ever had in my life!
Then there are animal passions which should simply not be indulged:
... If you really want an answer, I once tried to kiss a parrot and came close to needing stitches.
And some cultural differences present their own challenges:
... While working in Russia where men greet each other with a kiss on the lips: receiving a wet, sloppy beardy kiss.
... From a Hell's Angel at Reading in about 1978 - I didn't mind the beard - I've got one - it was the Jack Daniels (Says something when a Hells Angel has to be drunk before he'll kiss you.)
Some people seem to just attract bad kissers - or else they like telling tales. This sequence of disasters from a single researcher deserve bullet points:
Kissing a Scottish girl I met on a course when I was 17, who had a tongue like a pencil. Seriously. I got splinters.
Kissing Miss Murgatroyd's best friend whose name I think was Caroline, who seemed to think speed was the important thing, and therefore was like kissing a Hoover full of eels.
Getting very drunk and kissing someone at university who I'd sort of admired from afar, and being completely put off by her invisible but all-too-feelable moustache.
Lusting for ages after another girl on my course at Uni, finally get up close and personal and involuntarily letting go with the most enormous belch just as our lips touched. Bloody Theakston's Old Peculier. I walked home alone that night, quelle surprise.
Thinking it would be cute to snowboard up to HB, come to a flourishing stop and kiss her, failing to time it right, and instead of kissing her lightly on the lips nutting her quite efficiently, knocking her onto her a*se and me practically unconscious. In front of a lift queue of snotty French people. Honestly, just because they've got a whole style of kissing named after them they think they know it all...
Some come into the category of things that, long after the initial pain of the event, everyone involved can look back on it and - er - wince nervously.
... Must have been about 13 or 14. We both wore braces on our teeth, and yep we got them hooked. My mom had to cut us loose... how embarrassing!
Was when I was 15, my friend and I raided her parents' drinks cabinet and went over to 'hang out' with the boys in the park, I got pounced on by a really manky boy who was so eager he split my lip with his braces.... I still see him every so often and it's just so embarrassing!
On one of the first dates I ever went on, while waiting for our bus in minus 30° temperatures, we took shelter in a phone booth and snuggled. He told a joke and I laughed and, well... farted. I was mortified and said, 'I think I'll stand outside,' in the hope that he would step out, too, and not notice. He said, 'Don't you think it is a bit too co-...Okaaayyy...' and stepped out too.
Not all worst kisses are funny, some are acts of betrayal:
After having told me she didn't want us to be together any more. I talked her into at least meeting me one last time so I could say goodbye. And at the end of the evening I talked her into giving me a goodbye kiss. It was very one-sided, and really showing she didn't care about me at all.
The one which rates as worst kiss, was an utterly unrequited effort on the weekend when she'd decided she was going to break up with me, then bottled out and decided it would be easier on her if she didn't actually, y'know, tell me. Essentially then, it was a kiss where I thought we were together, and she knew we weren't. I spent a week trying to figure what was wrong before she finally 'fessed up.
This list should include the next kiss. At least the one we dream about. It involves someone who I may never meet. And someone who may not even know I want to kiss. And so it may never happen.
The Conversations below await your own memories, guilty secrets or embarrassment-purging confessions. Feel free to share with the h2g2 Community your first, your last, your best and your worst kisses...