Oculolinctus, an eye-licking fetish that is also called "worming" (gah), is all the rage among Japanese schoolkids. I get it, because I once licked my friend's eyeball when I was 12. This is my story.
Historians (well, The Guardian) think the current eye-licking fad stems from a popular music video by Japanese emo band Born, but the craze is really taking off thanks to social media: Tumblr and YouTube are filled with drawings, cringey photographs (see above) (sorry) and videos of the practice. However! A quick glance through YouTube's eye-licking offerings shows that oculolinctus is nothing new. I would know. I licked my first (and last) eyeball in the year 2000.
My two best friends and I were taking TheSpark.com's "Purity Test." (Remember that? You can still find it on OKCupid!) The situation was growing more dire by the moment, as I had never used cocaine, had sex in a moving car, or experimented with bestiality. I had never even shoplifted or French kissed, which made me the innocent of the group. I didn't want to be labeled the "pure" one, so when I saw my chance to defile my reputation on the last page, I went for it:
"Have you ever licked someone's eyeball or had yours licked?"
I licked my friend Annie's eyeball. It was slimy.
A few years later, I came across a passage in Lolita in which Humbert Humbert recalls the time he "pressed my quivering sting along [Lolita's] rolling salty eyeball," first to get a speck of something out of there, then just because. Nabokov knew about "worming" before it went mainstream.
Oculolinctus is "apparently seen as a new second-base; the thing you graduate to when kissing gets boring," The Guardian notes. For me, it was first base. Licking my friend's eyeball was subversive without being overtly sexual. Maybe that's why kids in Japan are so into it right now: eyeball-licking seems like a safe way to rebel without the emotional and physical consequences of sexual activity (and, as a plus, has the potential to garner tons of "likes" on Instagram).
"Seems" is the operative word. Oculolinctus is being blamed for a spike in Japanese cases of conjunctivitis and eye-chlamydia — yep, that's a thing — and also comes with a risk of corneal scratching, which can lead to ulcers and blindness.
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You know what they say: there's no such thing as a free
lunch lick to the eyeball. But at least no one ever called me a prude.
Image via Tumblr.