By Tom Chiarella
Mar 17, 2015


Stan Wayman/Time & Life Pictures via Getty.

If you’ve come to this page, trying to figure out how to get a kiss on New Year’s Eve, then let me say it’s simple: announce your need. Tell everyone in the room: I expect to be kissed. There is no moment when your intentions may be better aligned with the nature of the event than the last second of the last minute of a year. No one will fault you for desire on December 31. Someone comes through, generally. It is a night that gives want its chance.

But if you came here to learn how to kiss, generally, forget it. I’m not giving any kissing instructions. That is just flat-out unwise, and inelegant. I am not saying all kisses are great, nor that all kissers know what they are doing. I’m not saying some people don’t need lessons. They do. Just… you know, Christ, figure it out. With time comes mastery, and its many rewards.

But if you have actually settled on this page, thinking I’m going to do a four-step instructional guide to kissing, let me reward your Googling heart with these four guidelines. They are in order, and they are rules.

ask-him-to-kiss-you1. Be sure you have lips. Use them.

Maybe you think everybody does. But I once kissed a waitress in London, leaning against the door of a car that neither of us owned, and I lived to tell you: that woman had no lips at all. None. Not while she was kissing, anyway. It was all dental work, teeth against teeth. And then, of course, the tongue, which in this case was no real thrill at all. That kiss kept getting thinner and harder until I began to feel she was after some sort of bone-crushing, science-fiction jaw lock right there under the street light. I kept pulling back, looking to reset the whole event on her lips, but they never seemed to be there. No lips. Hence, no give-and-take. A kiss demands a little surrender, yes. But there must be some resistance, too. That’s what the lips are for.
2. Touch, don’t grab.

Use your hands. Delicately. My girlfriend sometimes lays her hand flat on the side of my face when she kisses me. I like that. Or she spreads her fingers on the back of my neck. Very nice. Or locks her hands in mine. This is not distracting, and it isn’t foreplay. Not always. It’s dimensional. There’s a lot going on, because of her hands, her fingertips. Hands open things up.

3. Don’t steal kisses. Ask for them.

Just don’t do it with words. Sure, there’s some measure of permission involved, but it’s not a verbal contract, kissing. A lot of people will tell you it’s polite to ask. Don’t. Just take your shot. The time to be polite comes after. When you get kissed back, or when you get rebuffed, that’s when you access your best self, your best response.

I once wrestled a kiss out of a woman while we were goofing around on the floor of her apartment. She had a big shock of red hair, and while I was lifting the couch so she could look for her lighters I suddenly got it in my head that it was three o’clock in the afternoon and why wasn’t I kissing her? After we sat back down, without the least little bit of rhythm or grace on my part, I pushed her hair back with one hand, then pulled her head toward me. And she kissed back, just enough to tell me she’d thought about it too, but it was clear to me the whole thing felt unconvinced. And, to her credit, she twisted that kiss off. She pushed me back, and in the weirdest, most unsexy theatrical gesture I have ever witnessed, she crossed her eyes, stuck her tongue out of the corner of her mouth, like a drunken tramp in an Archie comic, and: “It’s three o’clock. It isn’t even dark yet.”

I still have no idea what that had to do with anything.

But I could see, for her, it seemed to matter that we stop. So I took my medicine and lit her cigarette. With some grace, too. We made no reference to the facial gesture. We tried to talk about dinner.

After that I didn’t want to kiss her again.

Couple kissing
Couple kissing

4. Use your muscles.

I once kissed a woman who told me the thing she liked about kissing men was that she could hang on their shoulders. She liked the implication of strength. That’s the only thing I can tell you on that.

It occurs to me that you can’t do anything until you can kiss properly. There are foods you won’t know how to eat, words you won’t know how to say, constellations you will not be able to name. Sexually, you won’t know where to turn. Nipples will confound you. Oral sex is out of the question. I’m not even sure you can drive a car if you don’t know what it is to kiss. So get it right. Just don’t ask me. Luckily for you, the only authority you’ll ever need to consult is right there, pressed up against you, lip-to-lip. When you get it right, they will tell you, you will know, and maybe then someone will need to listen to your lessons.
What do you think?