"You need kissing bad and by somebody who knows how."
—Clark Gable to Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind
Last month in this column, with the holidays upon us, I wrote about hugging. That column must have hit home with some of our readers because I received various comments appreciating the column and the subject, and all, incidentally, were from women. One of those women stopped me on Constitución in Ajijic one morning to tell me I should follow-up with a column on kissing.
Well, mistletoe (with all of those easy kisses) hangs at least in the memory of those Americans and Canadians here at Lakeside; and also still in memory are those New Year’s Eve parties that not so long ago provided a once-a-year open license (alas for a couple of minutes only) to kiss with passion the pert lips of the neighbor lady or the sensuous and now parted lips of the lawyer’s wife that one had been surreptitiously studying for the past twelve months, or the anxious lips of the young lady who had arrived at the party alone because late in the year now about to be over her husband had left her for a lady even younger.
At those New Year’s Eve celebrations of life itself, all of the men, at least at the stroke of midnight, wanted to be like Clark Gable as they remembered those famous lines he uttered to "Scarlett" in Gone With The Wind following the most famous kiss in movie history: "I want you to faint. That’s what you were meant for. None of those fools you’ve ever known have kissed you like this, have they?"
I used to do a lot of kissing in movie theatres, but that was back in the 1950s and early 1960s. It offered a dark opportunity, particularly sitting in the popular last row, to prove how well we had learned those lessons taught to us by those celluloid lovers.
Who doesn’t remember those passionate kisses between Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh in 1939’s Gone With The Wind? And who can forget that beach scene in From Here to Eternity (1953) as Burt Lancaster (damn him) kissed (more delicious because illicit) the delectable Deborah Kerr, the woman I—with the hormones of puberty running high—was already in love with. I saw that film for the first time at a drive-in about 1960, and I remember later that night saying to my date, a short, dark-haired girl with glasses, that to me she looked just like Deborah Kerr. Yes, honestly. I really mean it.
Or what about A Place in the Sun (1951), where Montgomery Clift, playing a poor boy, kisses Elizabeth Taylor, playing a rich girl…satisfying for the moment the multiple fantasies of many of us…and we got to see those incredibly sensual lips of Elizabeth Taylor really close up. (Yes, I decided, there really is a God.) And then there was Grace Kelly seducing Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief (1955), encouraging him to enjoy the beauty of her diamonds (imitation) and her breasts (certainly not imitations), as she said, in classic double entendre, "Even in this light I can tell where your eyes are looking. Look, John. Hold them." Later they kissed at the very peak of the fireworks display. Prince Rainer must have been as excited as I was, because a year later Grace Kelly became Princess Grace of Monaco.
Cary Grant really got the kisses. Another woman I was in love with was Ingrid Bergman, and as I watched re-runs of Notorious (1946) I had to tolerate Grant enjoying the lips of the lovely (my lovely) Ingrid for more than three minutes, some say the longest kiss in film history at the time of production. (I planned that my first words to Ingrid Bergman just after she told me she would be mine forever were going to be, "I forgive you for that kiss you gave Cary Grant in Notorious, and that kiss you gave Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca (1942), and that kiss you gave Gary Cooper in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)…and…and…I forgive you for all of those kisses…as long as you assure me you weren’t using your tongue." (Her response most likely would have been, "But Jim, a kiss is just a kiss.")
Well, enough for now of films and osculation. I fear that reading this another woman will rush up to me at Lake Chapala Society and say, "But Jim, you said nothing about the health benefits of kissing!" I then will respond, "Let’s slip off into the jungle behind the coffee area and discuss this." I may even add, "Did anyone ever tell you you look like Grace Kelly?" (And some old tunes will rise up inside of me, like…"And Grace, my fears relieved.")