Tuesday, April 28, 2009

DYK - Kiss Me You Idiot

Today's Questions:

Where did hugging get started?

Where did kissing get started?

Why is it called a "French" kiss when you use your tongue?
My wife asked me Sunday night while watching Extreme Home Makeover, “Where do we get the idea to hug people? It’s such a comforting gesture, but how did that get started? Who decided one day to just up and hug somebody?”

I thought, “That’s a fantastic question,” but my wife is usually the supplier of fantastic questions. My initial response was that it probably had something to do with the instinctual relationship between mothers and their children—the first thing a new mom does after giving birth is cradle the child close to her. I’m guessing that as we get older we exercise that instinct on several non-mother people as well, usually looking for comfort, protection, or warmth.

That led me to wonder where the kiss comes from, since the answer didn’t immediately pop into my head in quite the same way. Where a hug can be defined in a lot of different ways, a kiss has to be much more deliberate. There’s a lot more aim involved in planting a kiss, as my wife will attest to considering all my missed targets for good-night kisses right after we’ve shut off the lights and said our final “I love you’s.”

Kissing, as it turns out, doesn’t just occur in human beings. Animals make kissing motions during grooming, and there has to be a certain level of trust and comfort in allowing another animal in the same group to take on that responsibility. Monkeys, dogs, birds, rodents, and all kinds of other animals exhibit this behavior, including my two male cats, who make out constantly and are gay together.

Anthropologists still don’t know if human kissing is a learned or instinctual behavior, but it does seem to be rooted in the grooming procedure. This could become even more believable if we consider that man is evolved from primates. If you believe that mankind was created by God, I suppose that argument won’t work.

Still, from a biological standpoint kissing is extremely interesting. Kissing allows two members of the opposite sex to taste and smell a potential mate to test compatibility for mating. I suppose this could work for gay people, too, but the instinct portion of kissing suggests that it’s done for the sake of procreation. I have nothing against homosexuals (remember, I have two cats that are gay), but same-sex marriages aren’t going to be producing any naturally-born offspring.

Humans use 34 facial muscles to execute a kiss, and psychologically it’s one of the more complex activities a person can undergo. As for the French Kiss, it’s been around for hundreds of years but didn’t earn that specific name until 1918. And nobody can say with any certainty that it actually originated in France. Sharing saliva via a joining of the tongues has been around forever, long before France was even called France.

No comments: