“Leaning In,” by Mindy Kaling. The New Yorker, 5/20/2013
A recent issue of The New Yorker was devoted to articles on innovation. That issue also had several short pieces called “Imagined Inventions,” inventions that would be nice to have if they were possible. One was on kissing that had an interesting point, but I want to be clear I am only bringing it to your attention. I am not saying I agree; I am not saying I disagree. I have been happily married for over 50 years and have learned to smell danger. I am not about to jeopardize my tranquility over a trivial blog posting.
As an actress, she regularly gets to kiss men safely, with no expectations or repercussions. Kissing, she finds, is a mild sensual pleasure similar to getting a back rub, but in normal life has become corrupted as the gateway to a full-blown (no pun intended) sexual encounter. She describes how succumbing to the transient pleasure of a kiss can turn into an over-nighter with all sorts of unwanted complications.
But why should marriage vows mean we will never kiss another human face for the rest of our lives? she asks. Kissing someone does not mean you want a new sex partner to share your bed and email account. Marriage is serious business; kissing is not. Kissing just needs to be regulated like alcohol consumption or any other legally enjoyable vice.
She imagines a Kiss Monitor, a computer chip implanted in our lower lip that would time a kiss to anyone other than our spouse and deliver a significant shock when one lasts more than 90 seconds, which is about all any of us can expect for the length of a back rub.
My only comment is that a 90-second kiss seems a long time to avoid complications. Count out 90 seconds right now and imagine kissing someone that long. And does a sequence of 89-second kisses seem safe? I suggest instead the chip limit a total of 90 seconds of non-spousal kissing in a 24-hour period. That seems to be a desirable social limit for even the real housewives of Orange County, and you could distribute the 90 seconds however you wanted, nine ten-second kisses or two 45-second kisses. One 90-second kiss still seems long and dangerous.
Back when we were square dancing, brief lip-kissing was a common greeting between those of the opposite sex. Some even announced their willingness by wearing a badge, “Kissin’ Cousins.” But not all kissin’ was with a cousin, nor were they all innocent no matter how brief. Maybe a chip that measures a sudden rise in pulse rate would make a better regulator.
Phew! I need a cold shower just thinking about all of this.