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it’s in his kiss. or is it?
the elusive search for
by robert a. melos
9.18.04
pop culture

Sweet 41 and…Okay, I’ve been kissed. The thing is, I never really got the kissing part of things. Maybe it’s the fact I don’t think I’m very good at it, but there is more to it than just not doing it well.

I think my problem with kissing goes back to my childhood. I great up watching all those old movies on the Million Dollar Movie, an afternoon movie that ran on what is now UPN 9, but back in my day (yes, I am that old) was WWOR Channel 9 out of New York. The musical theme for the Million Dollar Movie also happened to be Tara’s Theme from Gone With The Wind. I’m sure royalties were paid.

The movies that ran from 4:00 PM until 6:00 PM daily were the classics of the 40s, 50s, and 60s. They consisted of titles such as “Butterfield 8,” “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?” “Pillow Talk,” “Lover Come Back,” “Show Boat,” “The Greatest Show On Earth,” and the Frankie and Annette beach movies, among others.

As a child, it was the romantic comedies that held my attention the longest. On those rainy days when I couldn’t go out and play, or when no other kids were around the neighborhood, or when I got bored of those afternoon rerun television programs such as “I Love Lucy,” “The Brady Bunch,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Lost In Space,” and “Superman,” I ended up planted in front of the television watching a movie while my mother was in the kitchen cooking dinner or talking on the phone and cooking dinner.

Being an only child I spent a lot of time alone or in front of the television, and because of this got most of my ideas about life from my viewing habits. I suppose I’m not alone in this experience, since an entire generation of kids grew up in front of the electronic babysitter while our ‘rents did the things ‘rents do while ignoring what their kids do or did.

Anyway, one of the most important lessons I learned was the theory of kissing. You see, every romantic comedy whether it starred Doris Day, Annette Funicello or Sandra Dee, had that same moment in the course of the boy meets girl formula storyline; the moment when the boy kissed the girl. Now kissing or rather the act of a kiss has been sung about, written about, talked about, and pretty much elevated to the level of one of the most amazing acts one human being can perform on another; the moment in the films where the guy or girl is talking to their best friend, and they describe the second their lips touched those of their one true love, or their secret love, or the forbidden love of their life.

The moment is always described the same way. Fireworks! There is a feeling of “wow!” and you feel lighter than air, and you hear bells and see fireworks. That, I grew up believing, was the way you would know if the one you’re heart yearned for, the one you drew breath for, the one you thought you would die without, was really the one true love of your life.

Okay, I was raised to be a bit melodramatic. What do you expect from a gay man? The point is, once I was old enough to experience “the event” I didn’t see fireworks. I didn’t hear bells, or feel lighter than air. My first kiss I felt nothing. Nada. Zip.

Now before you jump on the gay issue of this, my first real kiss was with a woman. Well, we were both teenagers so technically she was a girl and I was a boy. The gay issue is complicated, but let’s just say I was confused at that time and leave it at that.

Anyway, I kissed this girl and felt nothing. Well I just figured it meant we weren’t soul mates, or she wasn’t the one true love of my life. Okay, no big deal. It wasn’t like 16 year-olds were going to get married no matter what Romeo and Juliet did. Those kids were much too young, and look how they ended up.

So we fast-forward a few more years, and I discovered boys. Well, men. Yeah, they were a few years older than me. Don’t picture it, just go with the flow here. Sheesh. Now I thought I had met “the one,” but again there were no fireworks. Well, that was okay because I wasn’t ready to come out and deal with all the other stuff associated with my lifestyle. Besides, as the song from Bye Bye Birdie told me, I Got A Lot Of Living To Do. I figured I’d live for a while.

Well I lived. And I lived some more. And even more. And not one of the frogs I kissed was “the one” no matter how much I thought they might be, because there were never any bells, fireworks, or floating on air. It was just another romantic notion planted in my head by Hollywood moguls looking to manipulate their audience with a mythological experience meant to explain love and romance.

Fireworks! My ass. After a few attempts at finding the movie magic love, I soon adopted the more conventional Burt Bacharach-Hal David belief that when you kiss a girl, “you get enough germs to catch pneumonia.” I didn’t limit the medical theory to just girls, obviously, but the germ factor applied to both sexes.

I just didn’t get kissing. If the person you were kissing happened to be a smoker, something I rarely did, the kiss was more like mashing your mouth against the exhaust pipe of a 57 Chevy. I don’t care how attractive I found my partner to be, ash wasn’t one of my favorite flavors. This also presented the problem of how to handle the rejection of a kiss. I mean, did I just push them away and gag? Was it more polite to hold up a hand, and then pop a breath mint in their mouths?

I was never good at saying things like, “for God’s sake, did you lick an ashtray before you kissed me?” Well, actually, I was good at saying that exact phrase. That was also a problem, but this is about my lack of fulfilling kissing experiences and not my lack of social graces. I’ve hurt the feelings of more than one potential “the one” with my sarcastic wit.

When it wasn’t smokers it was poor choices of food. Garlic might taste great on pasta, but it doesn’t taste so great on someone else’s tongue. Nor for that matter do most foods. I won’t even mention morning breath that apparently lasted all day. I simply questioned the oral hygiene of many a potential “the one” and recommended a bottle of Scope and several breath mints.

After a long enough time of kissing and not enjoying it, I began to question whether I simply lacked a real sense of romance? I mean, you can’t kiss dozens, and I do mean dozens, of people and feeling nothing for any of them. It just starts to grate on your psyche. After all, every movie I watched while growing up had the climatic kiss and the discovery of “the one” happening usually when one of the characters was falling in love for the first time. Well, I had thought I was in love many times in my younger days.

The no fireworks thing was really bugging me, but I had resigned myself to the fact I would settle for the one I was with, instead of the one that I wanted, because I would never know the one I wanted if I didn’t see fireworks or hear bells, and if I was going to be with anyone I’d better settle for one before I was too old to settle. Only that didn’t work out too well either, for other complicated reasons.

So I still go on, not seeing fireworks, or hearing bells, or feeling lighter than air. Yes, I’d like those things in a relationship, but the older I’ve gotten the wiser I’ve grown. Yeah, you guessed it, I’m still single, not part of a committed or semi-committed, or even a should-be committed relationship. I’ve got issues. But put that aside, and I’ve decided if someone loves you it isn’t in his kiss. Nope. If someone loves you it’s in his or her ears.

That’s right. If they love you, they will listen to you. If you find a person who will listen to you, then listen for your own bells. Look for your own fireworks. Because if they are willing to listen to you, and tolerate most of the crap that comes out of your mouth, then they must love you.



ABOUT ROBERT A. MELOS

Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos

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COMMENTS

anya werner
9.18.04 @ 1:22p

Hmmm, could it be your definition of fireworks? Do your lips at least tingle when you kiss someone you find really attractive? If there is *Zing*, but no fireworks, I think maybe you've just bought into the commercialized imagery Hollywood has presented. If there is no zing at all . . . you're kissing the wrong guys.

robert melos
9.19.04 @ 12:13a

No zing. Not even a ping.



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