Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: Custodian demonstrates to schoolgirls how he removes lipstick from a mirror.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1997]
Origins: This bit now circulates on the Internet as a "true story," and it may well be. School janitors have at times had to take creative approaches to combating the marking effects of what the students can get up to, and at least one of our readers recalls seeing a note taped to a mirror in one of her high school's girls' bathrooms that informed whoever was putting lip-prints on the mirror that the mirrors were cleaned with the same brush as the toilets.
That was back in the late-1980s, which greatly predates even the earliest version of this anecdote, which appeared numerous times on the USENET newsgroup rec.humor in April 1997. It lacked validating details found in later Internet versions: that the incident happened "at a middle school in Oregon," "at a middle school in Beaverton, Oregon," or that "According to a radio report, a school in
That the lip print tale has since appeared in a handful of newspapers adds to its spread. Though each of the columnists who ran it presented it as something fetched back from cyberspace and did not claim it as a true story, we are conditioned to view what we find in newspapers as
Could this have actually happened? Well, it appears so. In at least a few cases, folks who work for schools have turned the legend to their advantage by using it to combat a lipsticked mirror problem at their facilities. These acts of pseudo-ostension (the deliberate
Do pre-adolescent girls make smooch marks on mirrors? Surprisingly enough, they do. No one knows exactly what prompts this urge, but it might be tied to a need to see tangible proof that they're changing from girls into women. Little girls don't wear lipstick but women do, and women wear it to make themselves look sexy. To a pre-teen, making lipstick prints could be a way of seeing if she looks pretty or grown up, or at least if her lips do. Or it could be a way of pissing off authority figures by an action which combines an element of vandalism with a clear announcement of "I'm developing a sense of my sexuality, and there's not a darned thing you can do about it."
Moreover, kissing a mirror is an odd way of finding out what a girl is going to look like to the boys she'll soon be trysting with. (Hint of the day: Yell "
Lipstick is hard to scrub off a mirror, so keep this story in mind and your toilet brush at the ready should a pre-teen in your household begin to show a peculiar fascination with your lip rouge.
Barbara "candy apple well-read" Mikkelson
Last updated: 1 January 2005
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.