We’ve all tasted the sap dripping from maple trees on school field trips, and savored the icicles hanging from our windowsills in the winter. Stay with me through this, but… have you ever licked a pew?
Ever touched your tongue to a throne or a Steinway or even just an ornate picture frame in an art gallery? I have.
As a young kid, I spent years in uniform at a tiny Catholic school in Connecticut. My adulthood was spent actively un-learning that weirdness, but in those halcyon days I was attending church all the time, singing the hymns, chanting, the whole nine yards.
Mass lasted an eternity, and everyone was forced to kneel in pews; varnished, dark wood dividers with cushy leather kneelers and shit.
You literally grew up in that pew; gripping your tiny hands on it; resting your fat rosy cheeks on it, pretending to pray on it. And after a while, I don’t know what it is, and maybe I’m alone here… but it just starts to look… tasty.
Any concerns for hygiene or sanitation are eclipsed by the rich texture of the mahogany —worn perfectly smooth by centuries of arthritic hands, lubricated with the tears of unanswered prayers.
More and more, you’re drawn in by the sweet smell of the pine oil and the high gloss of the lacquer finish, and eventually, one day… you just… lick it.
From pews, you graduate to covertly running your tongue along the family piano, and inhaling delicious cancerous clouds of Lemon Pledge on chore day. Not really a big deal; harmless enough.
Problem is, that curiosity and urge stays with you for a lifetime, and one day you find yourself on tour in Exeter, England, sneaking into a pre-Saxon chapel to lick the marble eyes on a dead bishop’s tomb, and the wrist stumps of an angel with missing hands.
Or you’re at the VMAs in Miami, uncomfortably fixated on the surface of Cee-Lo Green’s bald mouthwatering neck rolls.
Or you’re in NYC in the Roman wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, timing the rhythm of the security guards, bending down to tie your shoe within striking distance of the tasty Augustus statue.
Today, my tendencies are mercifully under control. I’ve explored the origin of my fascination and identified the triggers (climate controlled indoor spaces, the scent of pine or lemon, “Do Not Touch” signs, the sight of anything smooth, etc.).
It’s been a full year since my last relapse, but one never knows if or when that irresistible itch will strike again.
Here are a few of my Greatest Licks.
Readers, please let me know if I’m alone. Psychologists, please post your contact info.