A kiss is a lot more than just a kiss
July 14, 2003

You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss," croons Sam, the  piano player, in "Casablanca."

But is it? Or is the kiss a sample of things to come?

As one contemporary man put it, "There is no bad kiss, as  long as you are getting one." He may, however, be the only one  with that opinion.

People want to be considered great kissers, with the amazing  ability to ignite sensual pleasure in their partners. But  sometimes they have the opposite effect without ever knowing it.

"If he can't kiss well," one woman confides, "then how is he  going to be in bed?"

When asked, a random sample of Denver women were eager to  describe their "Worst Kiss Scenarios."

You know when the dental assistant hands over that sucky  machine that slurps out your mouth before you drool? They should  make a home version for people dealing with kissers who slobber.  Note: If you salivate like a St. Bernard, chances are good you  think your sweetie is hugging you when she's really just using  your shirt as a wet wipe.

Biting is another behavior I find annoying. A trendy young  man walked me to my car after a party one night, and before I  could say, "What the ..." he dove in for a kiss. Off guard with  the unexpected puckering, I remarked, "Oh, we're kissing now?"

Nosferatu-in-training nibbled at my lips. Then he munched on  my ear, nearly swallowing one of my favorite earrings. He bit at  my neck, too. Didn't he get enough to eat at the party?

Not wanting a further Hannibal-ectomy, I noted, "You  reallllllly like using your teeth, don't you?" He nodded, thinking  his kissing style was as pleasing as the best stuff from Masters  and Johnson. I thought, "No, Dude - make-out markings are not  desirable or cool after age 16."

My ex-Navy neighbor relayed her least-favorite kissing style,  the "Tongue-Stuff." Many women agree that guys who like this kind  of amorous approach might just as well say, "Gee, I was wondering  what your esophagus tastes like."

My friend "Kat" recalls a similar moment: "He stuck his  tongue so far down it went to my shoes." As a result, she has a  newfound respect for the gag reflex. "It was intrusive, like a  throat inspection. I thought I was going to puke."

What's stranger than a tongue like an alien probe? Try  "Muppet Mouth." One of Kat's dates covered his teeth entirely with  his lips before kissing her. The resulting sound was an odd  "smack, smack, smack" that resembled suction.

Ever kiss so hard that your lips are sore? You'll likely be  left with "fish lips," a puffiness that looks like collagen  injections. When combined with the lovely red glare produced by  stubble friction, you've got a great "before" photo for the  dermatologist.

A discussion on bad kissing would be incomplete without  mentioning the "Hoover Maneuver." Much like tax collecting, the  strong sucking action removes vital organs like your tongue. The  opposite of Hoovering is "Canyon Mouth," where the mouth opens so  wide it reminds your paramour of her last cavern expedition. That  "clicking" noise may be her jaw unhinging, so be on the lookout  for signs of TMJ and lockjaw.

Other bad-kissing techniques on the list don't require much  explanation: bad breath, chewing-gum swaps, teeth-licking, dry  kisses, pecks (hey, we all saw Hitchcock's "The Birds") and nose  damage due to badly timed head tilting.

One kissing quandary seems unique to men. Though women can't  politely mark territory like dogs, we can use our lipstick to give  men what actress Jennifer Tilly calls the "Bozo the Clown" look.

Once when sharing a hotel room with another gal, I jiggled  the door handle to warn her before I entered. Her visiting  gentleman greeted me casually, as if nothing was going on. His  clown face gave him away - it was smeared with a lip shade  definitely not his own. Oh, honey - coral was so not his color!

Can a bad kisser be retrained? According to man-magnet Kat,  yes. Her life-changing situation came in seventh grade after what  she thought was a great kissfest. He later divulged to her friends  what a terrible kisser she was. "After that, I made it a point to  perfect my kissing craft," she confesses.

And one final reason to re-evaluate your technique: A kiss  is not supposed to leave you alone; it's supposed to leave you  breathless.