The near physical impossibility of kissing your own elbow is one of the more unusual parts of childhood mythology. According to the legends, a peck to the elbow would bring about an instantaneous sex change. For most kids, it was a threat of a terrible fate, something never to do. After all, most kids would never want to be a member of the opposite sex; they're icky, and may even have cooties.

The most common version of the myth was that kissing your elbow at any time would cause a sex change. It doesn't matter if it's by accident or intent, if your lips touch your elbow, you're going to have to start using the other restroom. This was not always the case, though; some variation of the myth had a certain ritual you had to perform to become the other sex, such as spinning around in a circle ten times under a full moon before giving the kiss. Obviously, no matter how much ritual is involved, it doesn't work.

I first learned about this myth when I was six years old. I was playing in the front yard, when my older sister, who I felt was wise to the ways of the world and cool beyond measure, told me about it. I thought about the words she said, what it would mean. Part of me knew that it was an impossibility, that a person's sex was not connected to their elbow in any way, shape, or form; sex was not that mutable. The other part of my brain, which was impressed by her coolness and her being in middle school, said that this was obviously true, my sister would never try to trick me. The part of me which was in awe of my older sibling won out, and this bit of information was placed in the part of my brain reserved for facts.

Even back then, I was inquisitive, and I wanted to apply my new found knowledge to the real world, but how? Myself? But then I would be a girl, and even by then, society had conditioned me into believing that girls were somehow different and strange; never mind the fact that I had still been taking baths with my younger sister up until a few months prior to that moment. Turn my little sister into my brother? She was three years old and easily malleable, surely I could trick her into kissing her elbow. Nah. Mom would get mad, and who knows what punishment she would hand out for tricking my sister into turning into a boy. I then thought about myself again. Why not? Worst case scenario would be that I would have to kiss my elbow again and turn back into a boy, right? So I puckered my lips up and gave my elbow a smooch as best I could.

Nothing happened.

Obviously it didn't work. Childhood myths rarely do. I looked over at my sister who was watching me the whole time, and I could see a chuckle, and maybe a tiny bit of shock from me actually kissing my elbow. The myth fell apart, became something that may be useful as part of some future prank, but not at the moment. It became just another childhood memory.

Occasionally, I wonder, what if it were real? What if one could simply drop all the cultural baggage of the sex they were born as, give their elbow a peck, and see how the other half lives? Would we reach some new sort of understanding? Would the sex one chooses be part of their statement to the world? Or would it just lead to more petty squabbling? I guess we'll never truly know. After all, simple childhood mythology rarely has any basis in the real world.

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