It has lots of names smooching, necking, sucking face, even tonsil diving.
Kissing. We’re talking “Kiss me, you fool” romantic embraces.
At their finest, intimate lip-locks can be spine-melting interludes, at their worst, slobbery turnoffs that leave you feeling like you’ve been licked by a cocker spaniel.
Of course, everyone has a slant on what can make or break a steamy embrace. Bad breath, lizard lips and open eyes are common turnoffs, according to Tomima Edmark, author of “The Kissing Book” and “365 Ways To Kiss Your Love.” Spontaneity, familiar perfume and an eager response are usually welcomed.
“A good kiss has to have three qualities,” Edmark said during a recent phone interview. “It needs to be warm. It needs to be soft. And it needs to be slightly moist.”
Well, pucker up and start practicing. With any luck, you will be called upon to execute a star quality kiss at some point.
Armed with the questionable stat that the average American woman will kiss 79 men before she marries (according to Dr. Joyce Brothers), I went in search of local authorities on the subject. Basically, I approached perfect strangers on the street, women having their nails done and people sipping java, for their views on passionate smooching.
“Of course, you want some gentle tongue action,” candidly admitted Lynn Blackmore, 42, of Phoenix. “Little tender motions are nice, but you don’t want them trying to remove your tonsils.”
Cindee Scanlon, 35, of Chandler, concurred: “You want to make sure they don’t try to swallow your face.”
In “The Kissing Book,” Edmark advises that the tongue should be a “welcome guest” rather than a “rude intruder” in your partner’s mouth. Gagging or choking your intended is bad form. So is holding a kiss so long that your lips “feel like raisins.”
“Leave them wanting” is sound advice.
“It (kissing) is a series or collection of choreographed movements starting with a nose rub or a simple kiss,” Edmark explained. “When you’re French kissing, it should not be all the time. Since there are two tongues involved there needs to be some alternating back and forth. Think of the tongues as dancing.”
“The best kind of kiss is a peach,” confided Amy Shapiro, 34, of Phoenix. “Do you know what a peach is? Well, there is no tongue involved, but it’s sensuous, slow and soft. That’s what you want to start with anyway.”
Edmark, our published expert, emphatically agreed.
“Never lead off with a French kiss,” she advised. “Do not introduce that tongue initially… . It’s rushing the preliminaries, and that’s a big turnoff.”
Creating the right atmosphere is also an important factor to any romantic interlude. So are “the sweet nothings you whisper in her ear,” said Richard Fodor, 69, of Sun City.
“If you want to be kissed or enjoy kissing more, you have to put the time in up front,” Edmark said. “I call it ‘before play.’ “
Basically, before play can be as simple as providing body contact to your partner. For instance, the two of you are in the kitchen cooking dinner. Get right up next to him or her, Edmark suggests. This closeness will do nothing but warm up the person.
Making your intended feel good is a good tactic.
“Don’t start an argument when you just call up,” Edmark recommended. “I know that my favorite is when my husband calls and says, ‘I’m on my way home and looking forward to seeing you’ rather than ‘Boy, what a day I had!’ “
“A kiss isn’t as good unless you’re truly being held,” said Heather Lennon, 28, of Phoenix.
“It is how they grab you and where they grab you,” said Susana Cass, 30, of Phoenix. “Those are the ones (kisses) that make you feel dizzy and give you goose bumps.”
Edmark offers the following rule concerning hand placement: “If it’s traditionally covered by underwear, don’t touch it… . Generally speaking, a kiss can be ruined if hands navigate their way onto controversial body parts.”
Variations on a theme
“It (a good kiss) should just be real soft,” said Anthony Deep, 37, of Scottsdale, “and it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the lips either. It can be the neck or the hand or the ear.”
Edmark promotes just such experimentation. Always doing the same little kissing routine can become stale and emotionless. To spice things up, she offers the following suggestions.
“Very light inhaling around the ear drives some people crazy,” she said, “especially men, I’ve noticed. Don’t form an air lock and suck their brains out or anything. You leave a little space there, and then it’s a very soft inhalation near their ear.”
In the end, no one wants to be told that they’re a “bad kisser.” To avoid such embarrassment, keep in mind that there is always room for improvement. If your smooches can be likened to a 60-cent chocolate bar (something that will get your beloved by on any given day), then it’s time to upgrade to gold-wrapped top-quality confectionary kisses.<