Like all ethically upright individuals and former Boy Scouts, I place a high priority on cleanliness. Waterless antibacterial soap is in my briefcase at all times; I always use a paper towel when opening the doors of public lavatories, wash my hands many times throughout the day, and generally try to set a golden example for the rest of humanity by being a model of right behavior. Hey, it's what I do.
Last Friday, while having a buffet lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, I was appalled to see a woman serve herself from a chafing dish, lick her fingers, and then grab the serving spoon for another chafing dish, oblivious to the fact that she was reallocating spittle from her gaping maw to the spoon that others would soon touch. I lost my appetite.
I don't get the whole finger-licking thing.
Who licks fingers? Chimps…and humans who seemingly emulate those primates.
If I have something on my finger, even if it might taste good, I wipe it off…especially if I'm preparing food for others.
But even if I'm not cooking, the very notion of tongue-whipping a digit is unspeakably loathsome.
At a restaurant, if I see a guy sucking his fingers, I can only imagine that the bacteria he transfers from mouth to hands is going to end up on salt and pepper shakers, catsup containers, napkin holders, chair backs, and all kinds of other objects touched by people who surely do not wish to share his bodily fluids.
I was driving along Washington in Oak Park the other day, and there was a guy walking along, eating from a bag of fried chicken. He stuck two (!) fingers in his mouth at once to drain them of any residual tasty grease. I almost careened off the road in revulsion.
Can there be any conceivable justification for this aesthetically offensive and clearly unhygienic practice? I'm not saying finger-lickers should be banned from restaurants or have their offending tongues and fingers cut off. That would probably be going too far. But somebody has to bring it to the attention of these slack-jawed knuckleheads that their behavior does not please me.
And don't even get me started on thumb-lickers who engage in the most improper use imaginable for our opposable digit, which is supposed to set us apart from those below us on the Great Chain of Being, but which through misuse aligns some of us much more closely with them.
I, of course, have no problem with what people may do be behind closed doors, so if you cannot resist sucking your fingers of residual food flavors, please do so at home. It's a revolting habit, and we're trying to eat over here.