Among the myriad human customs, kissing might seem older than most. Ever wonder how it came about. Well, like everthing else these days, kissing has an expert, Prof. Vaughn M. Bryant Jr. of Texas A & M University. He thinks he has the answer. Bryant thinks the first kiss was accidental: two lovers probably slipped while rubbing noses across each others' cheeks and noses in what was then a sign of affection. "It seems obvious," he said, "they hit each other's lips and said, 'Wow! That doesn't taste like V-8.'" The time, he thinks, was 1000-1200 b.c. The place, India, where the nose rubbing custom was in full swing. There are other theories, of course. Some argue the kiss developed from mouth-to-mouth feeding as seen among some birds and animals. Still others say men aped primates, which had begun kissing as a sign of dominance. But Bryant points to the Kama Sutra, which calls the world's first how-to manual on kissing. In it the kissing customs described are already centuries old. Indeed, kissing was well enough developed for the Kama Sutra to break it down into categories:

The nominal: The girl is kissed on closed lips and shows no reactions.

The throbbing: The girl again is bussed on closed lips but moves her lips back and forth.

The touching: The girl touches her lover's lips with her tongue. But the custom doesn't seem to have appeared elsewhere until later. "I've also studied the Far East," Bryant says, "but find really no references to anything that might even approximate kissing. The Far Easterners were more concerned with economics and trade: how to grow more wheat, and where wheat was shipped to. Sumerian literature devoted a great deal of time to how to make the best beer. "If they were into kissing, they sure didn't waste time writing about it." Kissing became a national craze in Roman times, he said. "Literally, they kissed everybody -- the butcher, the baker. Kissing was as commonplace as shaking hands, at all age levels and both sexes." The custom's spread was retarded in many areas by taboos and misconceptions. Some people felt kissing would risk losing the soul, since the soul was thought to enter and leave the body by mouth.