Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love is a battlefield

So I've noticed something about Valentine's Day jewelry store commercials. They all seem to be saying, "Buy your woman a very expensive bauble; you will get laid." Fellas, tell you what. Save yourself the trouble of buying one of those weird necklaces that look like snakes and just get yourself a nice hooker; that way you don't have to cuddle afterward. 
I mean seriously? Are we putting out only for expensive gifts now? How does this make us different from prostitutes? I'm just saying.
Okay, maybe I'm just jealous that Jeremy didn't get me one of those weird necklaces that look like snakes. Jeremy and I have a time-honored tradition of ignoring this blessed day. I think you get to a point in your life when you can buy your own candy, you can't have flowers because the cats will eat them, and you realize there is nothing romantic about being crammed into an overflowing Olive Garden with a bunch of other people who are trying desperately to imbue a cold slushy day in February with some special meaning. We used to have a time-honored tradition in which I pretended to be mad that he didn't plan a romantic Valentine surprise, which was awesome because it worked surprisingly often. My Valentine gift to Jeremy last year was that I wouldn't do that. I thought about pointing out that since I was giving him a gift he was obligated to give me a gift back, but I was afraid he'd just give me one of those weird necklaces that look like snakes
According to Vaughn Bryant, anthropologist at Texas A&M (as interviewed on Discovery News), the first written accounts of "kissing" come from India from about 2000 to 1000 BCE. Those accounts actually had participants rubbing their noses on each other's cheeks, which sounds more like a really unsanitary way to wipe off snot to me. I mean, I realize they didn't have Kleenex, but blowing your nose on someone's face? Not cool, man. Not cool.
It seems to be that Alexander the Great and his men picked up kissing after conquering India a couple hundred years before the birth of Christ, because after Alexander's death, Greek writings begin talking about kissing (not sure whether this was the spit swapping kind or the snot wiping kind).
The Romans made an art of kissing, according to HowStuffWorks.com. They even had words for three types of kissing - osculum for a kiss on the cheek, basium for a kiss on the mouth, and sSavolium for a "deep" kiss. I would guess the similarity to the word saliva is a coincidence. The Romans seem to have come up with the tradition of the bride and groom kissing at the end of their wedding. However, the Romans also used kisses to seal business agreements, which has fallen by the wayside too. I have an image of two big titans of industry in fancy suits lip-locking over company mergers. You should be in my head. It's a pretty awesome picture. This is the result of my Google Images search for "businessmen kissing."
In the early Christian church, the faithful would greet each other with an osculum pacis, or holy kiss. The holy kiss was believed to transfer the spirits of the two people kissing, which I think is just lovely. I don't know whether the "sign of peace" that takes place after the Lord's Prayer in Catholic mass - when the priest says "Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, 'I leave you peace, my peace I give you'... The peace of the Lord be with you always... let us share with each other the sign of Christ's peace." I love that, that part of mass. It's generally more handshakes than kissing, but there's sometimes kissing and hugging and lingering holding of hands and it's always lovely.
Speaking of souls, when Europeans came to the New World, according to Vaughn Bryant again, the people here knew nothing of kissing. The Tahitians, who were quite fond of getting it on, were appalled by kissing - they thought the people kissing were trying to suck out each other's souls. Which is precisely what the Dementors of Harry Potter do, interestingly enough. Do you suppose that's coincidence? 
The word kiss, by the way, comes from the Old English cyssan, and before that from the proto-Germanic kussijanan, which probably comes from the root kuss, which apparently what a kiss sounds like. Apparently the proto-Germans made a very strange sound when kissing.
Scientists, according to HowStuffWorks.com, say that kissing releases euphoria-inducing hormones and neurotransmitters including Oxytosin, Dopamine, Serotonin, and Adrenaline. I'd like to be a part of that clinical trial. 
Do you suppose prolonged kissing would be more effective at producing Serotonin than my anti-depressants? Because I've got to say, kissing is significantly more fun than swallowing a pill. I'd go find my husband and begin testing this hypothesis, but he is sick, and I'm afraid any kissing that went on between us would be of the snot wiping variety.
Me and my valentine. Adorable, or creepy
like this weird snake necklace?

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