Loose lips may sink ships, but full lips drive men wild and keep lipstick manufacturers in business, if you believe the "face-readers" and fashion columnists on the internet who analyze lip size and shape.
If only I had known the power of full lips on the male psyche when I was a middle school student trying to negotiate my way through the pain of bullying by adolescent males who were both short and short-sighted, I could've saved myself a lot of emotional trauma.
In sixth grade, my interest in boys began in earnest as I also became painfully aware of how "special" the popular girls in my class were. We had three alpha females in Mrs. Ealer's class: Leslie, Patty and Betsy.
With girls, acceptance was the key to developing friendships. My birthday party that year found all three popular girls in my basement along with other girls from school, as we drank sodas and danced to "The Twist" by Chubby Checker. Of the three who I believed were pivotal to my social standing at school, I felt Betsy was the likeliest to become a kindred soul.
On the surface, Betsy and I couldn't have been more opposite. She was a true beauty with dark brown hair, shimmering dark brown eyes and a broad, toothy smile. She seemed like a burgeoning movie star even at 11. Conversely, I was the tall, dorky blond who was always assigned a desk in the back of the room, so I didn't block the shorter students' view of the chalkboard.
My first boy/girl party later that same year was held in Betsy's basement with some of the boys who eventually became popular high schoolers for their looks or their athletic ability. Sadly, none of these boys were known for their brains, but who cared about that at the time?
Betsy liked Herbie Hammerstone, a good-looking blonde and blue-eyed boy. Herbie rode on my school bus every day. At the time, my knees melted at the sight of him, but I never stood a chance. The closest I got to him were the inexperienced kisses exchanged at Betsy's party while playing Spin the Bottle.
In seventh grade, Betsy and I were not in the same section, so I rarely saw her. That year, the smart boys in my class seemed to come up to my ribcage. I soon developed the one-hip-out-to-the-side slouch which shortened my stature and threatened to permanently curve my spine. I also endured the nickname "the White Wilt" for the whole school year.
(Once, I saw Wilt Chamberlain in person at the Latin Casino in N.J. at a Johnny Mathis concert. Even though Wilt was sitting and I was standing, he was taller than me. Those boys were mean and inaccurate.)
The next year, the more hurtful label I had to endure was "N-lips," but I no longer suffered alone.
In 8th grade, Betsy and I were back together in section 8-3. By then we had learned the art of using others for our own personal gain. She used me for my smarts, for which she thanked me senior year in my yearbook, and I used her to try and establish some "social cred," hoping her coolness would rub off on me.
Betsy and I were still nearly opposites in many ways; however, for all our differences, we shared one very distinctive feature. We both had full lips, so we shared the "N-lips" moniker. This name reflected both the racism that was still rampant in our all-white and as yet unsegregated school, and our out-of-style and underappreciated puffy lips.
We were too young to be compared to Marilyn Monroe, Verushka or Ursula Andress at the time. Sadly, our faces had not yet matured enough for us to "grow into" our lips.
In retaliation for this name-calling, Betsy and I formed a secret club that we named BLABTKW. "Big Lips Are Better to Kiss With" was our feeble solution to adolescent bullying. We decided that we had something others should want, so we mocked them in our own way. We suddenly felt emboldened and special, instead of letting pimply faced, short boys undermine our feelings about ourselves. We laughed whenever we reminded each other how exceptional we were.
I like to think we were just ahead of the times. After all, Hot Lips Houlihan didn't arrive on the scene for another 10 years.
I never became popular as a result of knowing Betsy, but I did begin to view the full lips I inherited from my handsome father in a more positive way. Eventually, I landed my own full-lipped husband. Our cushiony lips still fit together perfectly. Those long lip-locked explorations when we first started dating which swelled our lips to even bigger proportions reminded me that Betsy and I were right—big lips are better to kiss with.