A Guest Blogger's Explication of
"Kisses Aren't Contracts"
The Accidental Expert
Emotional Outsourcing: An inquiry into contractual affection
Someone recently told me that “kisses aren’t contracts.” I imagine that on most days, I would dismiss this notion with vague approval of its quasi-romantic notions of hippie-esque free love, individual freedom, and inherent lack of inhibition and responsibility in favor of evanescent fancies and whimsical self-affirmation, except for the fact that the person who said this happened to be someone whom I had lately spent a considerable amount of time kissing. I suppose it was this fact that left me to ponder this seemingly playful idea of self-indulgence as though a pebble in my shoe: uncomfortable and unavoidable.
“What is it one should take from this statement?” I wondered. “Am I under contract,” I asked myself? Not according to this notion, I suppose. If not under contract then, have we simply made of each other at-will employees, fireable according to the whims of a fickle and changing market? Have we really become the victims of our own emotional outsourcing? Should one imagine that today’s romantic encounters are merely exercises in individualistic self-indulgence wherein the partner is only valued in their necessity in facilitating the act in the first place? Have we become so jaded by our own disappointments and heartbreaks that we have resorted to abandoning the objects of our affections while literally still in the act of expressing that affection simply as a way to avoid our own abandonment?
It occurred to me also that perhaps the contract has suffered from a rather negative misperception. While some may consider it to be a binding obligation, a shackle upon the neck, as it were, to predictable, and possibly unwanted fate, scathing the flesh and now destroying what it was once meant to protect, a contract is, after all, in its most basic nature, an assertion of trust; a promise that one person can rest assured in the sincerity of another; it is faith. This seemed to beg the question then, “Have we lost our faith even in those with whom we share our most tender and intimate of moments?”
I began to look at my own past and quickly realized that as noble and romantic as it may feel to ask such rhetorical questions of faith and affection and promise, I was in no position to wield judgment. Over the many years of my own post-pubescent life, I found that I had lived up to no universal assumption of faith based solely on a kiss. In fact, by that measure, I suppose that I had promised with equanimity the same faith to both the beloved and the barfly, the love and the lie.
For what, then, would we wish? Would we will it that a kiss would be more than an ambivalent and off-handed gesture with all the tenderness of a handshake? Would we that each kiss was in fact a promise? And what promise could that be? What promise to which we would be willing to bind ourselves could be expressed in the softness, the fleeting touch of a kiss? Would we be willing to say to the one across our gaze, “I give this to you, and to no another”? Would we be willing to say, “I take this from you, and from no another”? Or perhaps, “Believe in me, in my sincerity and in my faith in you, and in your faith in me”?
No, certainly these things are not implied in something as trivial as a kiss. Certainly, none should wish to be so confined by the tethers of such notions. For what uncertainty should we face if this were true? Imagine that we, each of us, were not merely wandering nihilistically through the ether locked momentarily by the lips in embraces of apathy. To think that we each might take responsibility for each other, to believe in another while knowing that that other might break the contract and our faith. To think that each of us should find ourselves exposed, potentially alone out on that proverbial limb, naked and able to be hurt, and able to be so much more, able to be loved! And yet able to be abandoned! No, one would certainly not wish to assume that kind of responsibility with naught but a kiss and a faith to break that kind of fall. Certainly, that someone was right, after all. Kisses are not contracts…but, oh, that they were!
THIS SUBMISSION MADE MY DAY :)
Amusing & Insightful.