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This past Sunday was Valentine’s Day, a faux holiday celebration I have always believed was created by an insidious conspiracy on the part of our nation’s candy, floral and greeting card industries. This year, rather than spend my kid’s inheritance like a drunken sailor on candy, flowers, cards, etc., I decided I would attempt to make Valentine’s Day more of an educational experience for the entire family.

 On Valentine’s Day morning, as the family gathered in the kitchen of our abode on West 12th Road, I was greeted with the same inquisitive glances I am greeted with each Valentine’s Day as Grace and the girls look about to see what tokens of my undying love I had procured for each of them. As it slowly became obvious that there were no expensive tokens of my love sitting on the table I announced that we should all retire to the sitting room whereupon I announced that in honor of Valentine’s Day 2016 I would play a PBS video entitled “The Science of Kissing” and told everyone that when you really think about it, kissing is an odd human behavior so there must be a good reason why we do it. A little education in the biological sciences most certainly outweighs the temporary hedonistic pleasures of cards, candy or flowers, right? As I started the video, the room fell silent as each of the women wondered what the hell I was up to.

At the outset of the video there is a scene from the 1953 motion picture From Here to Eternity where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr are lying in the surf on a Hawaiian beach kissing. Without thinking, I blurted out that I recognized both the 63-year-old film and the actors, at which time Grace started laughing uncontrollably saying, “Christ, you are an old geezer!” I immediately started to feel depressed!

Later, the narrator stated that eight out of 10 women color their lips some shade of red because it is believed that men are attracted to “fuller, redder, lips.” The narrator went to explain that as we evolved to walk upright we began to advertise our fertility “face to face.” Unfortunately, the narrator goes on to say that our primate relatives, who still saunter about on all fours, are also attracted to rosy colors, just in a different place at which point the video displays a baboon’s red butt. At that point Grace again interjected, “I guess you’ll have to think twice before you tell someone to kiss your ass again!”  In addition to being depressed, I began to get the distinct feeling that my Valentine’s Day experiment was not going as planned.

Later in the video we learned that it is the orbicularis oris muscle in our face that allows us to “pucker” our lips just like a nursing baby. The video goes on to say that most of us turn our heads to the right when we kiss because 80 percent of our mothers held us to their left while breastfeeding. At that point my daughter Victoria paused the video, looked at me and said, “Is this guy serious or did he have a Freudian slip, saying one thing and thinking of a mother?”  Due diligence requires that I also inform you that at this point both our cat and dog got up and disappeared from the room after giving me looks which clearly indicated “You’re on your own!”

As the video came to an end, the narrator informed us that although kissing is weird, “Let’s face it, you’re rubbing your open mouth on another human being’s open mouth,” there exists a myriad of words used to describe it… locking lips, making out, playing tonsil hockey, tongue tickle, snogging, pecking, and osculation. Pointing at me, Grace sighed and looked at Vicki, telling her, “Back when you were just a baby, your father lovingly referred to our kissing as swapping spit!”

When the video ended, the room once again fell silent as Grace and Victoria glared at me with their well-practiced “stink eye” stare and arose to exit the room in a huff. Needless to say, the rest of the day went downhill from there. Perhaps candy, cards and flowers are not such a bad idea after all?

Broad Channel – why would anyone want to live anywhere else?

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