Oct 16, 2009

Episode 13: Hickeys

The Panel: Bryce, Gun Street Girl, Ryan, Greg

The Debate: Is it embarrassing to get a hickey?  Greg says it's not.  He's proud to have a badge of honor, proof that he hooked up with a pretty girl.  GSG points out that unattractive girls also can leave hickeys, so it's not always clear that a hickey is a sign of having kissed a pretty girl.  Greg says his coworkers may have seen him with the pretty girl beforehand, but I point out that if you were spotted with your companion, the hickey is superfluous.  Greg says that there's difference between the accomplishment of getting a girl and getting a girl to suck on your neck.  GSG points out that giving a hickey does not imply that the girl did anything beyond first base and thus is not really a source of additional pride, but I added that the wildness needed to give a guy a hickey implies that a girl is adventurous and interested enough to do other things.


Bryce says he's embarrassed because people at work the next day can see a hickey.  I figure that the problem Bryce sees is that he's forced to acknowledge his previous night's behavior in contexts where it may be inappropriate, whereas without a hickey, he is free to be sexual in one context and the conservative where it is more appropriate.  I then reason that this is the thrill of hickeys: that they are a dangerous experiment in the making out moment where you not only incorporate the moment in your making out, but incorporate the future, thereby raising the stakes.  I would say it is akin to drunk dialing or incorporating sober people into drunk plans: by mixing your drunk moment with a sober universe, you seem even wilder by comparison.

We all agree that not only is it almost impossible to cover up hickeys with makeup, it is weird for a guy to wear makeup.

We then turned to who gives more hickeys, guys or girls?  Bryce noted that he gives more hickeys than he receives.  GSG noted that hickeys are more of a guy thing than a girl thing to do.  I felt the opposite, but I never really gave hickeys.

A brief discussion followed about whether you can tell if you are receiving a hickey.  Greg and I agreed that you could feel someone nuzzling on you.  GSG noted that you could not be sure if it would result in a hickey until a mark appeared later.

The next subject up for debate: Are people in their late 20s and 30s too old for hickeys?  I was reminded of an episode of Full House when DJ got a hickey that she needed to hide from Bob Saget.  I have since associated hickeys with the sexual activity of people DJ's age and thus felt odd when I get one.  (I cannot find this episode, and am possibly confusing it with this epsiode of Who's The Boss).

Bryce mentioned that the thrill of hickeys is that getting one lets you indulge in the nostalgia of high school.  GSG mentioned that she never got a hickey in high school and, honestly, I don't believe I did either.  However its association in our culture with juvenile romance is stronger than my association with actual events that took place.  It's a simulacrum in the Baudrillard sense.

Bryce then asked if the panel would take a hickey in exchange for a pleasurable sensation, like having your partner blow into your ear.  I contend this is essentially what all hickeys are: a tradeoff of pleasure for a physical mark.  I prove this by asking if anyone on the panel has ever started receiving a hickey and pushed their partner away.  Simultaneously, everyone answered "no."   The truth is that it's pleasurable and we don't consciously care about the consequences enough in the moment to push it away.

Bryce mentioned, however, that he has kissed girls that declined hickeys because they would interfere with their job.  I asked what jobs would specifically forbid hickeys.  Bryce suggested corporate gigs and Greg suggested a teen abstinence counselor.  Bryce also suggested that a hickey would inhibit you from being able to play the field the next day (a suggestion I disagree with upon reflection).

GSG proposes that you don't always want to explain your make-outs to everyone, which hickeys require.  Thus, the problem with hickeys is that they force you to acknowledge making out to everyone when you may not want to.  I admitted an occasion of infidelity where I got to come up with a fun lie about where the hickey came from.

Greg finished up the discussion by mentioning the sad practice of artificial hickeys by means of a vacuum cleaner instead of a partner.

Review: The panel reviewed where on the body one could give or receive hickeys.

  • Taint – Can you?

Greg explained what a taint is.  I guessed you could not make a hickey appear there but you could do the necessary mouthwork to make one happen.  Bryce reasoned that, since it’s just a flap of skin, that it was possible.  GSG pointed out that trying to give a hickey to someone on their taint would result in them getting kicked in the face.  Bryce pointed out that a kick in the face is a terrible response and someone would need to be fairly insensitive to consider that appropriate.  Greg pointed out that someone would need to trim his or her body hair in the taint region to make it hospitable for hickeymaking.  Bryce and Greg agreed that “taints are pretty crazy, you’ve got to tame it.”

  • Neck

Very standard, but I note that courtesy is to put it just below the collar line so it can be hidden at work the next day.  GSG pointed out that “below the collar” is not really a neck.  The clavicle region is ideal for hiding a hickey the next day, GSG argued, but Bryce responded by saying that if someone is going for hickey, they may as well go in all the way and get or give one somewhere visible.  Greg likes when people who don’t want a visible hickey get one.  I eventually got everyone to agree on something I found more important: the neck is a pleasurable place to give and receive a hickey.

  • ACL

I don’t think an ACL hickey is possible.  Greg points out that he will have a scar on his ACL after he recovers from his surgery, but I point out that scars and hickeys are different.  Hickeys go away.  Greg, however, says that he would very much a girl to suck on his ACL until a hickey appeared.

  • Boob

I asked GSG if she had ever had a boob hickey, and she said no.  She explained that when men get aggressive with their mouths on her breasts that she feels inclined to push them away because the boob is very sensitive and the hickeymaking process there would be painful.  A girl would need to be passed out or a masochist to enjoy receiving a boob hickey, she explained.  I found it strange that biting a boob would be painful, but not a neck considering we need necks to breathe.  GSG got more specific: the nipple region would indeed be incredibly painful to have bitten hickey-style.

I then asked about the top-boob region, away from the nipple.  GSG said that wouldn’t be bad.  Greg and Bryce’s corollary was that side-boob or rib-boob would similarly be okay, so long as you aren’t near a nipple.  GSG pointed out that there is still sensitivity in these areas and, when coupled with rough hand-fondling, can be an unpleasant experience for a woman.

  • Clavicle

GSG likes this place.  It’s safe and easy to conceal a hickey here.  I asked the panel if they would prefer neck of clavicle if given the choice.  It seemed as if the clavicle was a great compromise hickey location: dangerous enough that it leaves a mark but safe enough to conceal this mark from others.  The panel agreed with clavicle and the following advice: if you’re making out with someone with a serious career or corporate job, give them a clavicle hickey instead of a neck one.

  • Inner thigh

The panel immediately reacted to this proposition because of its proximity to the genitals.  I pointed out the appeal: it’s an area of sensitivity and well concealed.  Upon further reflection, it’s also one of the fleshier parts of the body, and thus easier and more fun to bite, suck on and play with.  Bryce agreed that an inner thigh hickey was fine but GSG urged us to remember that the inner thigh could hurt as well.  However, once she backed that statement up with the fact it could make horseback riding the next day difficult, I ceased to take this argument seriously.

At this point I decided to ask GSG to just name the parts of the body that are too painful (kick someone in the face painful) for hickeys.  She said basically our list thus far: breasts and inner thigh near the genitals.  Greg asked about the clitoris and GSG affirmed, that would be painful, too.

  • Upper body / shoulder

GSG didn’t know what the point of a hickey there would be.  It’s not as fleshy or pleasurable as the neck.

  • Penis

Given the amount of chatter that Greg and Ryan had concerning clitoral hickeys, I felt it would be hypocritical to want to bite a woman there and like that if they themselves didn’t want a penal hickey.  Greg, however, said he would welcome such a gift.  I disagreed, citing the longstanding male complaint about women, teeth and penises.  Bryce just didn’t think a penal hickey was possible, but I guessed it was considering there was enough skin that could be nuzzled.  GSG likened such an act to Lorena Bobbit’s infamous assault.  Nevertheless, Greg said he has had only “awesome” experiences with women’s teeth near his junk.  Bryce was on my side on this one: “If you’re making out with my penis, teeth off.”  Greg pointed out that teeth near a penis is virtually a necessary condition of getting a blow job, but I added that it was not a sufficient condition: biting the dick region differs greatly from performing fellatio.

How to: The panel elaborated on how to give a hickey.

  • Step 1: Make out with someone’s cheek, then move your tongue down to her chin

I asked what the hickey recipient is doing while you are kissing them not on their mouth.  Obviously they can’t kiss you back at the same time.  It would be weird to talk.  Greg said that at this point, your partner is “enjoying the moment.”

  • Next step: start to move up, towards the ear, but don’t go all the way up to the ear.  Just tease as if you are.  Then go down to the neck, to “the jugular” like “the vampires.”

At this point we got into debate on whether teeth are necessary for a hickey.  Ryan said that he chewed.  I said that hickeys arose from breaking capillaries, which sounds like it requires teeth to break.  Greg insisted all that was necessary was suction.  Teeth can be used, he added, but only to tease.  Teeth would leave teeth marks or remove flesh, not produce hickeys.  I argued that, when I suck my thumb, a hickey does not appear.  Greg said thumbs are different.  Thumbs are used to being sucked, they are “worn out.”  Necks, however, are still susceptible to hickeys since they don’t get sucked as often.  Also necks have more blood since it’s near “your jugular.”

I sucked my hand and no hickey ever came, though I am aware it wouldn’t have come after such a brief period of sucking.  But still, it didn’t have the same pleasurable feeling I get when I receive a hickey.  I posited that a reserve of body fat is needed in a place for it to get a hickey.  “Skinny” places don’t get hickeys.  Upon reflection, I meant to say “fleshy” places, as necks aren’t fat so much as they are fleshy.

I asked Greg if he ever kissed someone so skinny or non-fleshy that a hickey was impossible.  He said skinny girls were easier since you just need to suck skin and not fat and skin.  The skin, he stressed, was the important element.  Thus, since all girls have skin, there is no one too skinny for a hickey.

As a demonstration, Greg started very intensely sucking the skin in between his skin and forefinger, as if trying to pull something open with his lips.  Sure enough, after only about 15-20 seconds of toothless suction, a red circle appeared on his hand.  Bryce tried the same thing with the same part of his hand, but not as intensely as Greg had.  Bryce used teeth but I did not see a hickey appear.

We thus concluded that sucking, not biting, is what makes a hickey.  Bryce added, however, that he likes the sensation of nibbling as the hickey goes on, even if it is not necessary.

I asked how long suction needs to go on for before a hickey will come.  Greg responded “until you taste [blood]” but then said, “about a minute.”  Bryce added that once the person you are giving a hickey to realizes that they’re getting a hickey, they jerk back a little bit.  That’s not only fun but also lets you know that your work is about done.

I then asked what you’re supposed to do when someone is giving you a hickey.  None of us had good answers for this.  Basically lay back and enjoy the moment was the consensus.

Ryan then added that he didn’t understand what the point of hickeys was.  Bryce said we give hickeys for the same reason we make out, but I disagreed.  We make out because it feels good but we give hickeys because they’re dangerous.  Hickeys force us to deal with tomorrow who we were today.  It gives kissing consequences, which heightens the situation.  I said it’s like drunk dialing, Bryce said it’s like a day-long STD and Greg said it was a scarlet letter.

On Bryce’s analogy, he dubbed hickeys “STMs” or Sexually Transmitted Marks.  I agreed that they were essentially that, but whereas no one wants an STD, people could enjoy an STM.  But upon reflection I agree generally people don’t want STMs once they’re not in the moment.  It’s like being naked not while having sex.  As well, there are probably people who wear their STDs with some pride as badges of sexual promiscuity.

The panel did not agree with my analysis on hickeys being a way for people kissing in the moment to mess with our sober future selves.  Instead, Bryce and Greg said we get and give hickeys only because it feels good.  Even if they didn’t leave marks, Greg would like hickeys.

Lastly, Bryce shared some prehistoric history of kissing that he learned from the Jealousy of Man.  Back in cavepeople days, mothers would chew up food for children and spit it in their mouths.  Fathers would get jealous of this and shove their mouths in their wives’ mouths as they were about to feed their children.

I said that didn’t sound right.  GSG said she’s seen people snowball food and it is gross.



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