By KJ Adler
Two years ago I had friends who used to chase each other around, trying to give one another hickeys. It was an odd game that I opted to watch from the side and laugh menacingly at when someone was caught and tortured with the act of bruising via mouth.
The next day the carnage was apparent with those friends walking around with scarves, glaring at their saboteurs as they passed by. In retrospect, it was a pretty stupid game and the end result left spirits rather bitter.
But even in a non-immature-college-game situation, I find the shag tag, love-bite, monkey bite, or in layman’s terms, the hickey to be a gratuitous act of little sexual benefit.
What possesses someone to suck on their partner’s neck for so long that their blood vessels literally pop in their neck?
What interests a person in having their neck sucked hard enough to actually be painful, with the end result of a bruise for nearly a week?
The hickey is an embarrassment, an accomplishment, and above all, a statement.
I sat with my friends a few days ago, watching football and eating chips when I blurted out without any warning “Why do people like hickeys?”
After receiving a collective blank stare from everyone in the room, one of my friends said with a smile, “They’re fun.”
She went on to explain that for her, when she’s getting to “know” a guy at a party or whatnot, it’s just kind of fun to have that mark of ownership on someone’s neck, proclaiming to all of the world “Oh, yes. We were intimate and now this boy is mine for the next few days.”
In a sense, she did have a good point. I don’t think there are many girls who would look at a guy with a hickey-adorned neck and say “Gee, he looks single with a great neck to suck.”
The one beautiful thing about hickeys is that they are universal, ignoring the walls of sexism to provide a message for all people to enjoy and judge. Hickeys aren’t a male or female thing.
They’re an “I was here” thing, like a mark of pride.
Of course, not everyone finds the beauty in the art of hickey production. So just to help out those of you who were wronged by a tricky mouth, there are a few ways to remove the blemish.
A hickey is a bruise. So like a bruise it follows similar applications. If you realize that the necking has gone into code red, immediately apply ice to the spot to minimize redness and swelling. Massaging the area also disperses the blood under the skin, making it appear less red. I’ve also heard through the grapevine that multiple applications of a warm teabag to the abused skin works really well but takes a long time.
Of course the most traditional (and popular) solution will always be cover and deny.
Cover up is a popular method but makeup can only cover so much; while scarves and turtlenecks are a perfect solution in the winter. In the summer you’re on your own.
Just like most of the sexual practices and problems we are faced with every day, the best and easiest solution to avoid the hickey dilemma is to avoid getting bruised in the first place.
If you feel that a spot on your neck is getting a bit too much attention, let your partner know. It’s not like he or she is going to look at you angrily and walk away because you hurt his or her feelings.
I don’t know anyone who takes any particular pride in their hickey production skills and I hope I never will.