"It's not that glamorous," said Thom, a 28 year old documentary filmmaker. "It's just a binky." He insisted that I shouldn't waste my time interviewing him about such a pedestrian security object. After a few minutes of trying to convince him otherwise, I finally asked: "What's a binky?"

"A binky is a pacifier," he snorted, like I should know. "It was the kind that was all one piece with a ring so you could hold it on your finger. I have to admit I thought everyone would know what a binky was. It's only now teetering on 29 that I find out otherwise."

Those whose comfort came from sucking tend to sneer at other forms of security. "I remember when I became aware of Peanuts comics that I considered Linus' behavior bizarre," Thom said. "I couldn't imagine taking part in it." And Mikki, a thumb sucker until age 4, kicked the habit cold turkey. "I have discipline!" she beamed. Her pride may stem from her sister's misfortune. "She was still sucking her thumb in the second or third grade so she had to get the rake! It was horrifying. It was like this big metal chandelier in her mouth."