Trailing home from school our fifth grade year, my friend and I hit on an amusement: sticking out our tongues at passing cars. At each car’s approach, we prepared our mouths to do the unspeakable. At just the right time, we thrust forth our tongues and waggled them tauntingly. Euphoria tingled up my spine at our audacity. We’d taken on the social taboos and gotten away with it! Until.
A VW bug drove past us: a small and unpretentious prey, not like bagging a Cadillac. Still, we gave it our all, pushing our tongues out into the autumn air. As the car passed, we doubled over with laughter. The VW made the block and drove past us again. The driver rolled down her window, poked out her head, and stuck out her tongue at us!
Quite a different sensation now tingled up my spine: Shock. Hurt. Anger. How could she? How mean of her to… Wait a minute.
Standing there, plaid satchel in hand, I experienced for the first time what it was to stand in another person’s shoes: what real‑world justice felt like. If I could find that woman today, I’d give her a big hug (if she’d let me get that close) and use my tongue to better purpose.