Tuesday, July 07, 2015

How Many Licks?

The mother ushering three small kids into the ice cream parlor had an American accent, yet asked all three of us clearly standing in line, "Is this the queue? Is that the end of the queue there?" 

Having affirmed the obvious, she broadcast her directions to the girls. "Okay, let's stand in the queue behind these two lovely ladies!" We all stood for a bit, and then the two lovely ladies behind me decided to leave.

"Okay, now we stand behind this lovely lady!" the mom said. I ignored her, preferring to keep my loveliness hidden. 

Just then I felt a small, wet, lukewarm sensation on the back of my pants, right on my upper butt cheek. 

I turned around and met the steady, unsmiling gaze of a girl about four or five years old, wearing a bathing suit. I squinted a smile at her. "That's not a good idea," I said. 

The girl went over to the mom, who was occupied with a younger one. "I licked her bum," she said. 

I remained face forward as her mother put this together. "You said hi to the lady?"

The girl repeated it. The mom was still processing. "You what?"

"I licked her bum."

This was the second time recently that a kid old enough to know better decided to get touchy with me. On the Metro a few weeks ago, a girl probably six or seven kicked me by mistake while squirming around in her seat. When I politely ignored it, she nudged me with her shoe again. On purpose, on my pants. 

It's all personal preference, but I have a much higher tolerance for having my clothes licked than touched by a shoe. I raised my eyebrows and gave the girl a focused smile. "Don't do that," I said. The girl simply stared at me for the rest of the trip while her mother remained oblivious. 

At the ice cream store, though, the mom was not oblivious. "Oh," she said sweetly, as if the girl had just told her that she was considering licking butts as a full-time profession. "Were you looking for attention?" I didn't hear the girl's reply, if there was one. 

"Why don't you say excuse me and say hello?" she said. "That would be nicer." 

So then I had to turn around and pretend it was cute. I gave a slightly less squinty smile at the mom and waited. "What's your name?" The girl said. 

"Christina," I said. "What's yours?"

Despite just having placed her tongue on my behind, the girl suddenly got shy and crumpled away from the introductions. I waited as the mom unsuccessfully coached her kid on how to enunciate. 

"Violeta," the mom answered for her kid. As in, violate.

"That's a nice name," I said as the seemingly interminable wait ended and the counter guy turned to me, giving me a chance to distance myself from Violeta. 

After I got my ice cream and she got hers, Violeta edged closer to me again while her mom wrangled the rest of the order. I ignored her aggressively. She edged closer and closer to my backside and probably would have gone in for another lick, but she ran out of time and got called away. 

Now, I realize this probably makes me seem pretty grumpy or like a kid-hater. And I am grumpy, it's true. But I am not a kid-hater. Had these kids been toddlers, I probably would have melted into lickey-faces and smiles. And I get that this is just a little harmless boundary-testing. 

For my part, though, I feel like when you're past toddler age, certain behavior shouldn't be encouraged, and that behavior includes licking, kicking, or otherwise touching strangers. Really for the kids' sake as well as the stranger. Violeta didn't know where my butt had been, and I can guarantee that strawberry ice cream is far more salubrious than linen freshly basted in summer Metro seating. 

I'm not going to get into what's an appropriate parental response here, except to say that certainly in my family this incident would have resulted in a scolding for the licker and apologies to the lickee. 

Somehow though, I feel the need for a new tack here, in case I get Violetaed again. Any ideas?

I am just glad she licked my pants before she got the ice cream.