Flavorwire has compiled a list called 10 of the Greatest Kisses in Literature, which is great, but can we please stop swooning over Romeo and Juliet and start shivering in horror about literature’s most awful kisses, instead? Here, for the first time in history, I’ve unearthed a decade’s worth of Valentine horror stories from a compilation of ancient, lost, or mysteriously destroyed texts. Enjoy–and don’t forget your chastity lip ring tonight. (It’s like a chastity belt, but no one can kiss you unless they have the key. And your dad swallowed the key. Happy Valentine’s Day!)
1. The “Lizard Tongue” Kiss from Pyramus and Thistle
Long after Pyramus and Thisbe died of their ill-fated love, there was Pyramus and Thistle, a charming novella from the early 1700’s about a jolly bachelor and his librarian ladylove. Charming, that is, until this dark passage surfaces halfway through:
“Why, Mr. Pyramus,” she breathed. “You’re standing awfully close.” It was then that he reached out his impossibly long tongue and gently licked her earlobe. She shivered in anticipation. “I love you,” he said, and bent his head down and kissed her. “It feels like I’m kissing a thousand lizards,” she whispered.
2. The “Smash Mouth” Kiss from Smash Mouth: A Super Authorized Biography
Remember the band Smash Mouth? Their manager wrote this biography, which was subsequently destroyed by a lunatic editor at Random House who insisted it was the worst piece of writing he’d ever read and then jumped off a bridge. In this passage, the lead singer reflects on a memorable groupie:
She kissed me and I felt like an All Star. I felt like I was Walking on the Sun. We Smashed our Mouths against each other for a while. Then I had to go back to the Astro Lounge and get ready for my next set. “You can be my girlfriend for the next hour,” I told her. She looked pleased.
3. The “Creepy Tree Kiss” from Shakespeare’s Long Lost Picture Book
Much speculation has been made about Shakespeare’s missing plays, but in 1984, a professor at Cambridge attempted to free a bat that was caught in his chimney and instead pulled down a vital piece of chimney support, bringing the entire structure crashing onto his head. Once the rubble cleared, his grieving wife noticed a sheaf of yellowed paper protruding from one of the bricks. It was entitled “The Kissing Tree,” and it was a picture book written by none other than one “Wm Shaksper.”
“Lean closer,” said the tree. “My leaves tinkle in the wind, as though they were the very soul of love, crying for her master.” The little boy crept closer. “Place thy lips on my bark,” said the tree, “for I kiss by the book.”
4. The Deleted “Parent’s Kiss” from The Virgin Suicides by Jefferey Eugenides
Anyone who has read The Virgin Suicides knows that it is a lyrical masterwork, a gem of surreal prose-poetry. Thankfully, the author deleted some of the more awkward paragraphs from the book before sending it to his editor, including a passage where the Lisbon parents touch lips for the first and only time:
We watched Mr. Lisbon take the groceries from the car and walk up the front steps, staggering under the weight of the brown paper bags. There was Mrs. Lisbon at the front door, looking at him with a face like a sour crabapple. Their speech floated toward us on a soft breeze that reminded us of the sisters’ collective, sighing breath.
“Did you remember the extra toilet paper?” said Mrs. Lisbon. Her husband nodded. We had never seen such an infinitely weary face. “What about the creamed corn? The canned peas? The maxi pads? The five gallons of Drano? The powdered milk?” He kept nodding, and his thinning hair wavered in the breeze. “Did you get the expired milk? You know it’s cheaper,” said Mrs. Lisbon. One final nod. She smiled begrudgingly and planted a hard kiss on the skin beneath his nose. It was the sound of a woodpecker against bark. From an upper window, we saw another Lisbon girl jump to her death.
5. The “Kiss of Death” from the Original Snow White
Everyone knows that the original fairy tales are way more gruesome than the Disney versions. But the original original Snow White, the pre-Grimm version, which dates back to the Ice Age, is more than gruesome–it’s just plain freaky. When the Evil Queen finds out that the Huntsman hasn’t actually killed Snow White, she flies into a vicious rage and gives him a kiss that means a lot more than “I kinda like you…”
The queen smiled–a slow smile that seemed carved out of ice. “Never fear,” she said. “She’ll die of the poisoned apple soon enough. But you, my dear huntsman, you’ll have a different death.” And with that she reached out and took his throat in one white hand. She squeezed until he gasped for breath. “Your lips are almost as red as mine, now,” she mused. And with that, she bent down and kissed him, and her lips were shards of ice, and immediately all the blood in his body became snow. “Sleep now, my huntsman,” said the queen, caressing his frozen cheek. Now her smile was a secret inward thing, like a dying creature trapped beneath the thick ice of a frozen river.
Terrible. Absolutely terrible. Stay tuned for part two, lovebirds!