I stayed in bed this morning, staring up at the blue sky, letting myself wake up slowly, a luxury so scarce in my life these past months. My thoughts drifted to my freshman dorm room, the white cinderblock wall on which I mounted (as did countless other freshman girls) a poster of Gustav Klimpt’s The Kiss.
And then my mind wandered to my first kiss. I was six maybe seven years old. Berjan (he was Armenian) is how to pronounce his name, though I don’t think I’ve seen it spelled out. He was a mean boy, bossed me around. That day of the kiss we were playing Fort, using the sheets on his bed as a tent structure. At some point he rammed his head forward and plunged his lips onto mine. I don’t think I even knew that it was “a kiss” just that it was uneventful, part of playing. It lasted all of a millisecond and we continued on with whatever it was we were doing.
There’s an argument for that incident not being the first time I was kissed, that it was more like the first time a boy’s lips touched mine. Could be I’m getting old and my memory’s failing or I just don’t hold onto those kinds of first memories, but looking back, I can’t remember the first time I kissed someone for real.
Which got me to thinking.
Actors kissing on screen. They’re kissing, portraying kissing, but are they kissing kissing?
I did a search for kissing and came across this Eadweard Muybridge gif, a pioneering late 19th century photographer who used film to study the ways that humans and other animals move.
This kiss, between two female models, might just be the first “kiss” ever filmed.
Muybridge used photography to prove that horses take all four hooves off the ground during a gallop, and used sequential photographs that show various animals engaged in various activities. He photographed humans naked so that viewers could see how the body moved as his models walked, played sports, and kissed. American social conventions of the time prevented Muybridge from filming naked men in the same frames with naked women, and so when he photographed pairs of people, they were same-sex pairs.
Philip Glass, by the way, composed an opera about Muybridge, “The Photographer” which I’m listening to now…
So, kissing kissing. Do actors kiss for real? Were Muybridge’s two female models kissing kissing? Seems my Sunday morning mind has lead me to my lifelong curiosity about intention, perception, and communication–the big three at the heart of a story. Life’s story. Any story. I’m going to end. About time I step outside and enjoy the day. But I’ll leave you with a line from Sylvia Plath’s journals, my favorite about kissing:
“Kiss me, and you will see how important I am.”