The date was March 7, 2003
It was a crisp spring evening during my 8th grade scholastic campaign. My basketball team had just won our homecoming game and our next match would be in the regional playoffs against our rivals, the Eltonville Wildcats. Our team was expected to make a run deep into the state championship that season and the entire town was excited about the potential for us to win the whole damn thing.
But it wasn’t just the victory that had us riding on air that night, it was the homecoming dance that followed. It was the last school-sponsored fling of the year and for many of us, the last chance to have our first makeout session before entering high school. Having tongue-kissed a woman was a rite of passage in the small town of Galantine, Illinois. And I’ll be damned if every single one of us wasn’t trying our hardest to make the dream a reality.
No 13-year-old young man wants to be the LEAST sexually experienced guy in a locker-room. Especially when half those dudes were upperclassmen with girlfriends, scholarship offers, and a lack of virginity that none of us could fathom. I’m a pragmatist. I knew I wasn’t going to get laid that night. But maybe, JUST maybe, I could get a real kiss and make myself feel like I was at least “on pace”.
This dance had a reputation for making heroes. It was always dimly lit and held in the gymnasium of our school. There were lots of dark corners, nooks, and crannies to disappear into without anyone noticing. There were legends of guys like Tommy “Fishbone” Thompson, who got an over-the-pants HJ while sitting across the table from a chaperone in 2001. Deonta Beckings was rumored to have been flashed by not one, but two different pairs of boobs in the parking lot during the 1997 dance. In 2000, Chris Ketting’s braces got so stuck in Macey Wallace’s dress strap that the teachers had to use scissors to get him unstuck, ruining the outfit and both of their nights (both parents were called to pick up the kids for that incident). If there was ever a chance to make magic, it was at this poorly-supervised function.
I must admit, I was confident about my chances. My date at that time was not only a freshman in high school, she was also pretty fucking trashy. Deep down, in my heart of hearts, I knew that I deserved better. But hey, this was no time to take a moral stance against young women with questionable parents. I NEEDED that kiss and I knew she would be more-than-happy to be the one to give it to me.
One-by-on the dudes started to disappear in short increments. We had to exercise caution and take turns so as to not draw attention to ourselves and blow the whole operation. Each couple got about five minutes to get in a quality smooch before allowing the next couple to sneak off and lock lips. It was a system that was put into place long before our time and it worked like a well-oiled machine.
I was one of the last to go and there was only about 15 minutes left in the dance. When my girlfriend and I walked back behind the stage curtain, she immediately pushed me against the wall and started kissing on my neck. Aggressive, but she was a professional and I was just some shit-dick 8th grader trying to have an experience. I loved it. Feeling her warm mouth on my neck, smelling her sweet perfume, Sean Paul’s “Get Busy” playing obnoxiously loud over the speakers.
“This is what high school was going to be like”, I thought to myself. “This is what it’s all about.”
Suddenly, the lights kick on and the music turns off. Mrs. Raney, the witch vice-principal says, “Ahhhlllllright kids. That was the last song. Your rides are waiting for you in the parking lot. Don’t forget to throw away all your trash” over the loud speaker. FUCK! I never even got a kiss! I had to think fast. I quickly told my girlfriend to walk towards the gymnasium door and I’ll go to the locker-room bathroom so we don’t look suspicious. It worked, and we separated without anyone noticing. But as soon as I got in the bathroom, I noticed it…
Maybe it was just because it was my first one, but holy shit did it look so much larger than any of the other hickeys I had seen. It looked like I got shot in the side of the throat with a frozen paintball. I immediately started to sweat. I was panicking and trying to find a way to cover this atrocity so my mom and dad wouldn’t scold/beat the shit out of me in front of all my friends and their parents. I never even said bye to my date. I knew that she would just make it worse.
I grabbed my basketball bag and put a hoodie on over my dress shirt. I pulled the drawstring so tight that you could only see the eyebrows-to-lips portion of my face. I looked like the album cover of Jack Johnson’s “Burshfire Fairytales” (look it up). It was a dumb fashion choice, but one that bought me some time to think. It was cold outside so my parents never mentioned the hoodie and I kept it on while I told them about how “great of a time” I had at the dance. I mentioned being tired from the game and was going to bed after my shower. No further questions, I took off down to my end of the house.
Up to that point, I’d never had a hickey of my own. I had once heard that they last about a week? I was stressing out and only had about twelve hours to come up with a plan or face a multiple-month grounding for getting m’neck sucked. Pressure breeds creativity and a desperate man has little to lose. It was going to be a longshot, but I devised a plan that would be me and my neck a full week.
A temporary tattoo.
I had basketball practice that next morning at 10am to watch game tape. I intentionally slept in to 9:30am and tip-toed around my parents all morning. Neither noticed anything of the ordinary and I was out the door with $4 in quarters in my pocket. I stopped at the pizza place up the street and bought 8 Pirates of the Caribbean temporary tattoos (the movie was popular at the time). I walked to practice, showed off the hickey to every single one of my teammates, and began to cover my body in tattoos. I stuck them on both arms, my chest, my calves, and one directly over the hickey on my neck.
I shit you not, my parents just thought I was being a jokester and so did my coaches. When you’re a goof, you can get away with doing goofy things. This was an inside joke for my friends and I for years and until this day, none of them knew I didn’t actually ever have my kiss. In a way, the hickey did MORE for my reputation than the kiss ever would have.
I tell you all of this to make a very serious point.
I have prepared a Pros and Cons list regarding hickeys that I think everyone should weigh before allowing someone to give them a hickey.
Everyone can clearly see that you’re getting some action.
It is indi-fuckin-sputable. You cannot give yourself a hickey and make it look like a person did it without having some sort of lip attachment for your Dyson vacuum cleaner. If your goal is to show the world that someone out there was willing to touch their mouth to your neck, bravo. It is very, VERY obvious to everyone with a pair of eyes that you are banging someone. It’s a lot like if a doctor wore a lab coat every single place they went. Like, we get it. We can all tell what you do by looking at you. The same concept applies to a hickey.
Everyone is forced to envision what kind of gross act you were engaged in to have you blood vessels broken on your esophagus.
You look like you have leprosy.
Your parents are ashamed of you.
People you are attracted to can see that someone else has been sucking on you.
If done wrong, they literally cause pain.
Your boss thinks you’re a gross fucking idiot.
Looks like you fell out of a tree while wearing a scarf.
Your grandparents are disappointed.
There’s no real way to get rid of them. They can only be covered.
People dropping off Suicide Prevention fliers in your mailbox because it looks like you tried to hang yourself.
The list of negatives outweigh the one positive by a long shot. Next time you and your partner find yourselves wanting to give one another a hickey, please, I am begging you, stop. Do it for yourselves. Do it for the rest of us.