Tongue in Cheek - About Obsessive/Compulsive Behaviors and Other Oral Traditions by Kalab Honey
Since I was a young boy, I’ve always had some sort of oral fixation. By the time I was eight I’d started biting my fingernails big time. My Grandmother used to put the most repulsive tasting serums on my nails hoping to break me of my bad habit. I got so used to the taste I even started enjoying it. Twisted.
In my early teens I started smoking. I don’t know exactly why I liked smoking—for sure it wasn’t the wonderful way it made me feel, or the nice smell. But I liked it. Later on, as I accumulated more consciousness, I realized it satisfied this oral tradition of mine. Only problem was, when I wasn’t smoking, I was back to the default setting, biting my nails again. At last, deeply immersed in a personal world of cigarette smoke and stains, frayed cuticles and stubby fingers, I decided to go all the way and get my tongue pierced . . . sort of a built-in passive 24/7 oral fix.
Then the awesome happened. I was able to quit smoking. By that time my body was so completely addicted to the nicotine that I was beyond any reasonable expectation of “hope”. But the constant presence of the tongue-stud in my mouth was an unexpected ally in competing with the addiction—not to mention it’s a great conversation opener at parties.
I’d like to credit my quitting smoking to the tongue-stud 100% but it was more of a means to an end than the main solution.
I’m 22 now and I’ve had the tongue-stud for two-plus years. My piercing has proved to be a great companion in times of off-center excess, whether boredom or distress. I still bite my nails, but only under siege. Meanwhile, fidgeting with my tongue instead of smoking is a norm I’ve quite grown accustomed to.
For myself (and I would guess for others) the tongue piercing has proved the lesser of evils. When (if) I choose to take my tongue-stud out I hope I will have matured enough, in the way of channeling stress, that I won’t go back to the heavy smoking or nerve-wracked nail nibbling.
But you never know. Oral fixations are an ever-present annoyance and each of us has to find our own way through. You can tackle it head on (the “just say no” approach), but if you find this frontal assault method too much resembles Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, there are other, less painful, more stylin’ ways. I’ve found that “lesser evilism” applies to more than political choices for president.
I am writing this little essay literally tongue in cheek, but think about this. I’ve found that when it comes to addictions, the least conventional cure is often the most effective. I’m talking addictions here. And society will be a better place to live when the obsessive-compulsive lawmakers in DC heal their addiction to power-over-others and get this simple concept. So I’ll repeat it, in case they weren’t paying attention: sometimes the least conventional cure is the most effective. They might even be able to declare Peace in the War on Drugs. That would be a load off.
Bottom line, if you can’t beat an addiction outright, turn your weakness into a strength. Make it work for you. Seek out the lesser evil. Be cool, it’s only life & its habits.
Kalab Honey is a student majoring in Business Administration at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon after which he plans to go on to the study of International Law.