The Hickey: A Plague! A Mythical Love Plague!

Iil_570xN.392181666_nxoln eighth grade, I knew a lot about kissing.

I hadn’t actually done a lot of kissing, mind you, but I’d heard expert advice on such matters. (Note: For a thirteen year-old Grace, those experts were Dawson’s Creek, the classic movie channels, and Ashley Lindsey from my US History class who made out with her boyfriend in the canyon behind school every afternoon.) In my mind, there were three absolute rules of kisses:

  1. The greatest one of all time had already happened, thanks to Wesley and Buttercup, so the pressure was off.
  2. Boys tasted like Doritos and rubber orthodontia bands.
  3. If you really made out with someone, you’d have to wear a turtleneck the next day.

Two of these things ended up being true. The third, however, was a load of hippopotamus vomit. Do you know how bloody impossible it is to give someone a hickey, kittens? In order to make that perfectly crimson blemish, a delicate balance of sucking and biting must occur. All of this must happen while making noises of make out delight and balancing atop your prey partner. So: biting, sucking, and balancing. These things do not go together seamlessly, unless you are a world-renowned lollipop gymnast. You’re not. You will bite too hard, or suck with too much effort. Unless your kissing partner is a masochist, such attempts shall result in high-pitched squeals of pain, not a hickey.

How did this become our visual shorthand for passionate encounters? Give me tousled hair! Give me beard burn! Instead, we’re left with rare painful welts. Kissing shouldn’t have so much in common with Ebola, friends. What’s next? Using Black Death-esque buboes as code for “We’re pregnant!”? Nothing says bundle-of-joy like massively swollen lymph glands!

What’s more, if my kissing partner ever actually marked me in such a way, I’d be enraged. Deigning to make out with someone does not make you theirs to mark! If you want to tell the world you like me, buy some damned flowers. Roses speak of affection more efficiently than scabs. If Professor McGregor broke skin during our canoodling, I’d have grave concerns about his mortality. Have you encountered anyone who sparkles lately, love? Is your skin turning to ash in the sun?

We brand cattle, not romantic partners. If you’ve practiced giving hickeys enough to actually be able to pull them off, please put your free time to better use. You’d, no doubt, be good at imitating a blowfish. Perhaps join a circus as The Human Sea Porcupine? Whatever you do, don’t hickey any more unsuspecting souls. That’s how these ridiculous tropes get started. Now, if you’d share what you’ve learned here today with Those Construction Workers Who Whistle at Women Pedestrians, it would save me ever so much time.

So, am I the only one who’s never displayed this ultimate sign of passion? Tell me true, love hamsters. Hickeys: fact or fiction?

– Grace

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30 thoughts on “The Hickey: A Plague! A Mythical Love Plague!

  1. Some of us bruise when we brush into walls. *cough, cough, me, cough* Therefore, hickeys do not take nearly as much effort, which always makes my life terribly exciting. 😛 But, I know the Husband doesn’t like it when it happens because it generally puts me in a less than romantic mood since I’m picking out scarves and shooing him away whenever this happens. Sigh…

    • Yeah I was wondering what was so difficult about them…I have never been the giver, but I have received them…and they didn’t seem to take much effort. It usually goes “stop, you’re going to give me a hickey!!”, and it’s already too late by the time I can get that out.

    • Huh. I’ve always thought I bruised rather easily, but perhaps not? Plenty of bites and passion have happened, since I entered The Land of Kissing, but I have yet to get one…even when I thought one might appear.

      What’s funny is, the reason I wrote this post is that I’d had multiple conversations with friends – Kate, Mae, and Professor McGregor included – who’d also never experienced them. I had no idea they could be easy! Maybe the sweltering heat in Texas makes us somewhat immune? There must be an explanation.

  2. hahahaha, FINALLY post I disagree with :p
    I LOVE HICKEYS, giving them, getting them
    I am no masochist or sadist but I do like it a bit rough, I like biting, scratching, loud noises
    and I HATE beards (stubble is fine)
    if you don’t like hickeys-fine, don’t get them but ridiculing something that someone else may enjoy enormously and what is NOT harming anybody-I didn’t expect that here
    I do not intend to imitate blowfish and I will enjoy hickeys and if someone have a problem with branding they should flush the engagement ring and wedding band down the toilet ! ha!

    • Our streak of similar mindedness couldn’t continue forever, I suppose! Blast!

      Honestly, I’d talked about the non-prevalence and negative feelings toward hickeys with *quite* a few people, before writing this post. It was rare that someone I knew had ever had one, much less had had one recently. It has just never struck me as something that might be enjoyable. The biting, the sucking – I totally get! – but you may be the first person I’ve ever met who actively loves the marking part. This was not a post I expected to offend anyone, much less cross a line of belittling something held dear. I do apologize, if it comes off judgmental toward a subset of the population, as I try to be pretty open-minded in blogging. Such a reaction completely hit me from left field, though, I’m not going to lie. It was meant to be humorous- if in a totally cheeky tone, as always- not offensive.

      • :))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) not offended! 🙂 I get that it suppose to be funny but when it comes to intimacy and sex IS an intimate thing cheeky can be tricky 😀

  3. When I was in the army, I had to book into camp with hickeys once… the regimental sergeant major forced me to wear a camo scarf to cover it up, my naive medical officer was like “What happened to you?” while the not-so-naive one was like “Oh he got attacked by a savage beast!”

    Never gotten any since.

    • Ha! Oh, Drew. That story is most excellent. This is probably not how it was, but in my mind, your camo scarf was tied in a very jaunty knot to the side. If I ever do acquire a hickey, I’m using the savage beast defense.

  4. I never had one. In fact, one of the first things I found myself saying during one of my first-ever make out sessions was, “Absolutely NO HICKEYS! I catch you trying and I’m outta here! They look horrible and are just tacky.” I survived years of dating adhering to that rule. It’s a good rule.

  5. i don’t think I’d mind them, though their appearance on my neck would not be pleasant, as I’m pale enough that it would show for a loooong time. I’ve never gotten one, though I have accidentally straightening-iron burned my neck, gotten a really bad bug bite and a few other ridiculous situations that have left me wiht a hickey-like mark that had people teasing me relentlessly. The teasing, I could really do without.

    • Lexy, I have been in the exact same faux-hickey situation with a curling iron. The two look deceptively similar to the outside observer…

  6. I used to me fully against them myself. However, I’ve found that as a way to remember someone that you don’t get to see all that often (try once a month) they can be an affectionate part of a relationship. I also don’t think they require masochism, just some skillful attention. On the other hand, beard burn I think is just as branding (if you want to think of marks from trysts as branding), far more painful, and more easily noticed than a well placed hickey.

    Notice I did say, well placed. I’ve never had to wear turtleneck (I don’t wear turtlenecks) or a scarf (for that reason anyway) to cover them up, because I don’t think that would look professional at my day job. But I do now enjoy that secret reminder, just for me, of the person I love. I don’t get to see him every day, but I can slowly watch a part of him fade away as the weeks between our times in each other’s presence get shorter. It makes me happy, harms no one, and actually prior to making this comment, no one even knew they existed.

    • Jami, that’s a really interesting point about hickeys. I could see, being away from someone most of the time, having that little secret mark of your passion would be exciting. Well-placed definitely seems to be the key, with such a habit.

      Also, I’m joining your loathing of beard burn. The dear professor, as everyone knows, has a lovely beard…which I’ve never actually gotten beard burn from. A little weekly conditioning and awareness is all it takes to avoid such an unsightly fate! (Unless, the man in question sports constant stubble, I suppose… In that case, I’m not sure there is saving someone from it.)

      • Stubble may be nice to look at, but it is a killer. I’ve gotten really bad beard burn from stubble which got infected and ugh!

        My current boyfriend has a lovely soft beard far past the stubble phase (and which I ask him to condition) and so far, no burns!

  7. I’ve tried, and found that it’s much harder to accomplish than I thought. You’re not kidding one bit about having to literally harm someone to do it!

    • Right? I feel decidedly less crazy, thanks to your comment. Professor McGregor and I were talking about it last night and we both find it something quite difficult to achieve. Perhaps if you’re sensitive-skinned, it’s different, but I would have to be in quite a bit of pain for one to appear.

  8. I get the full outline of my sportsbra across my back if I do it up too tightly before going for a run, so I’m guessing hickeys would happen quite easily! I’ve never had one though and wouldn’t want to!

  9. I got one, and only one, hickey when I was in high school. I got it from a cute boy after drinking some triple berry vodka haha! It was very small, but not easy to hide from my parents the day after. I thought it was pretty cool back then, but it would be a bit of a different story if my fiance were to give me one now 😉

  10. Once upon a time, I had a friend who was in her late 20’s who had a long-term boyfriend and her mother was aware of that but when said friend turned up with a hickey when she was brunching with her mother, mother determined that apparently an ill-fitting brassiere was to blame and whisked friend off brassiere shopping.

    While Mom purchasing new lingerie for you can be a budget saver, I would advise against having a hickey precipitate said lingerie outing.

    I bruise easily so have ended up with hickeys when they weren’t even intended. I am now, however, more mature (read; OLD) and try to keep any sexy rumpus fairly tame (don’t want to fracture a hip…)

  11. I get then from as much as a glance. It probably has to do with how strong your capillaries are and how easily you bruise.

  12. I used to mark my boyfriend’s back with a hickey, but in a region where it would easily be covered by any t-shirt or sweater. While he didn’t bruise easily, giving him a hickey wasn’t hard to accomplish, so I’m surprised to learn it is a struggle for others.
    Maybe it’s the colder climate where I live that makes the skin more sensitive.
    Also, I don’t get beard burn and I have kissed a good number of guys with stubble extensively. Which contradicts my assumption that the colder climate might make our skin more sensitive. Maybe only to hickeys, not beard burn.

  13. Perhaps there is a bit of me that has become somewhat of a masochist (I’m 5’5 and petite, and Boyfriend is 6’5 and 330+ lbs… you do the math), but he has–on two distinct occasions–successfully planted FOUR hickeys… on the same side of my neck.
    Now, perhaps it’s because that carotid artery is the better of the two and thus my “life force” is strongest there (if so, I should probably see a doctor, because I kind of need the left one too), or maybe it’s the comfortable distortion of his neck that causes him to go to the right, but it hasn’t failed–both times, he placed two perfectly large, purple, look-like-I-have-leprosy hickeys that were just big and dark enough so to challenge even my best makeup abilities.
    I don’t bruise easily by any means–and my skin is in no way sensitive to anything (except nickel… cheap jewelry with that stuff in it makes me want to rip the affected limb off), but apparently his suction power is just enough to completely incapacitate my capillaries into a colorful admission of defeat. He’s apologetic, of course, but when a coworker winked and nudged me because somehow, said makeup had smudged off, I had to put an end to that nonsense. Being a nurse starts enough fantasies–I don’t need to add fuel to the fire.

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