September 11, 2008

Licking My Lips

I was in first grade when I first saw someone licking their lips. It was very interesting. I had never seen that before or, I never noticed. I wasn’t aware at the time that it was called licking the lips. To me it looked as if someone just put their tongue only slightly out of their mouth and moved it from one side to the other. I decided to copy this interesting behavior.

One day, I started licking my lips. I had no idea what it meant, only that it was a behavior pattern I had noticed performed by some adults.

I would do something, and lick my lips. When I remembered what I was doing, I licked my lips. Every time I remembered that I saw people licking their lips I would lick my lips. I was very interested in this behavior pattern.

I remember a teacher talking to this young girl in my class, little Ashley. The teacher’s back was turned to me while she talked to little Ashley. I decided to copy the adults and lick my lips. Little Ashley’s eyes opened wide at my action.

“Ms. Jones, he stuck his tongue out at me!” little Ashley cried.

Ms. Jones turned around to look at me. I looked back, my face impassive and expressionless. Did I just stick my tongue out at her? That action that I had copied from the adults didn’t seem like sticking my tongue out at other people.

Ms. Jones looked at me, and then turned back to little Ashley.

“No he didn’t. Stop trying to distract me. We were talking about your own behavior,” she told little Ashley sternly.

Little Ashley looked at me, her face furious.

I wondered what the difference was between licking my lips and sticking my tongue out, so stuck my tongue out at Ashley. Not a lot, just a little slip of the tip of my tongue.

“Ms. Jones, he did it again!” Little Ashley shrieked.

Ms. Jones turned to glance at me again. Again I was impassive and expressionless. I had not copied most facial expression patterns yet.

“No he didn’t Ashley. I must ask you not to try to get others in trouble to escape your own,” Ms Jones icily told little Ashley.

My little games with my tongue had somehow made little Ashley furious, yet had made Ms. Jones angry at her, and not me.

I decided to lick my lips again, to see what little Ashley would do.

On cue, she pointed and cried, “He’s doing it right now!”

Ms. Jones became angry with her. Without bothering to turn around again she said, “Young lady, I am getting tired of this. You will stop this right now or I will be forced to report this to your parents.”

I decided to wag my tongue at little Ashley. This was a complete, large tongue that stared at her.

“No look, he’s doing it right now, when your back is turned,” little Ashley practically shrieked.

Ms. Jones was exasperated, but turned her head around to look at me.

I licked my lips just slightly, my expression one of complete bewilderment.

Ms. Jones became fed up with little Ashley, and told her harshly, “No he’s not. He’s just licking his lips. You will stop trying to get other people in trouble this instant. We are still talking about your bad behavior.”

Little Ashley became livid with anger and indignation.

It was a very interesting experience. I don’t remember what happened very clearly, but I do remember that it was one of the first times I remember obtaining such an intriguing reaction from someone.

To little Ashley, or grown up Ashley as I should call you now. I have learned much since then. I hope you forgive me for what happened, as I had just started to learn about human behavior. Since then, I have learned that people should appear kind to others in public. Therefore, I wish to apologize right now for what happened. However, know that your suffering gave me great insight into the human condition, and helped me become who I am today.

Thank you.

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