Yes, please do bruise me...(??!)

8 August 2015

Hickeys. Love bites. Let's discuss these; let's discuss this phenomenon that has been sweeping nations and generations for decades now.
I was inspired recently to write this post, but I mustn't say by whom or I'll be running the risk of being bitten (viciously, not lovingly!)... 

Let's start with my first experience of love bites -- those unusual bruises which mark your skin and vary in darkness and size, and are caused and created by intimate behaviour. Intimate behaviour here meaning intense kissing coupled with biting and sucking on a partner's skin (or a friend's, or a stranger's, if 'partner' seems like too much of a label to you...), this biting and sucking an act of passion -- and perhaps even intended as a mark of ownership, but that's a whole other can of worms that I don't fancy eating. 

Okay, so my first encounter with these suckers was actually not me receiving or giving them. No, it was the total lad harlot in my GCSE Geography class, who sat directly in front of me and who I'd known since being as high as my knee is today. It was a relatively hot summery day, and so we pupils had all shed our layers to embrace the delightfully chilled 'summer uniform' (jumpers off, for girls tights were optional, then remove ties, undo top button, breathe in deeply and remember how it felt to not be choked for six hours a day). 
Now, for the curious part. As we all lounged in our plastic chairs and paid maybe a generous 40% attention to what our teacher was describing and pointing at on the Smart Board, and between jotting down lyrics and sick rhymes for raps about famous volcanoes with my friend sat beside me -- I suddenly noticed the back of the boy in the seat before me was a little damp beneath his blue shirt. As in, there were drips and drops visible on the thin fabric. True, it was a hot day, but it wasn't that hot. This is England, after all. Then I realised this boy was wearing a white roll neck jumper beneath the school shirt. Now this was classic nineties style that for a moment I thought might be recurring in the noughties -- I mean, if one of the most popular stylish lads in school was wearing one, he was clearly kick-starting a new trend. C'mon, this boy had a moped, a tatt and apparently even *whispers* smoked! I was steadily embracing this new style movement when one of his mates decided to pull the rolled neck down and make some joke about him looking like a toff... And there they were. Scorching purple smears all over his neck! I believe my friend next to me, a perfectly respectable girly swot, gasped and shrieked 'tramp tags!' I won't lie, I was fascinated by them. I even went as far as to wonder who the girl was who'd bestowed these passionate marks upon his golden skin -- then remembered he had an older girlfriend, an arty pierced-up beauty in the year above. He was clearly being well-educated in the bedroom by her. Good for him. His mates were in hysterics as he spent a little too long readjusting the polo... It seemed he was no longer a boy -- he was a man. 

In stark contrast, I will now share the story that came with my first tramp tag. Remember, it is often the case with men's experiences vs. women's that the man will come across as a legend/lad/Lothario and a woman will be scorned and criticised relentlessly for being a slut/slag/strumpet... At sixteen I had gotten a bite, against my will may I add, from my boyfriend at the time. I didn't get any pleasure out of the making of the bruise, which surprised me as I'd heard it was super-sensual... Nope. Ouch. Then my mama sees it and insists on covering it with makeup, and I wore a scarf to college for days, even indoors while doing coursework in the library surrounded by geeky strangers, to hide it. I was told over and over how it can look so nasty, how a person will see it on another person (which I have since realised means woman) and immediately think 'ooohh, she's been doing it, she's filth'. Sigh. 
You would think this attitude would have changed in the six years since I was a 'filthy' teen. With all these feminist movements, authors and individuals, all this YA Fiction waking us up every day to the reality of teen/young adult behaviour/pressures/trains of thought...
Nope! Even now, the person who may or may not have inspired this blog post felt the need to say he/she had walked into something rather than be honest and say 'Oh me and my boyfriend/girlfriend were having a bit of fun'... A guy would have said that at the very least, probably gone into more detail and demanded high-fives from his pals, too. 

So basically I've never had a good relationship with hickeys. In fact, the only good moment to ever come of me having one and having given one (while tipsy and engaging in very ill-advised activities with a very ill-advised suitor) was the following morning, being in a lecture and too hungover to care about how I looked and therefore not bothering to cover up the evidence of my indecent and somewhat illicit activities... A lecture buddy pssst's me and points, saying 'who gave you THAT?!' I remember, and I touch a hand to the (enormous, sloppy and all-consuming, now that I think back) love (or actually quite hateful) bites, shut my eyes in embarrassment just as one of my supposedly close friends giggles and whispers back for me 'look for the other bites in the room!' 
I hadn't realised that the two of us, him and I, having matching sets of bruises would be so incriminating and obvious. I saw it now. I could have cried with embarrassment -- but instead, I felt the tiniest glimmer of pride; yes, I'll admit I did get that fleeting thrilling feeling of yes, I did that, I made that, I marked him... Luckily that strange possessive feeling passed as quickly as it had arrived. Then I cracked up laughing. Because I simply didn't feel the need to be ashamed! So that was my breakthrough; now I may never every want one of those ugly hickeys again, but at least I can say I went there and I had my experiences. And weirdly, having my neck sucked taught me a lot. 

Now, I feel John Green (as usual) makes a very good point on this matter: 'Are hickeys still a thing? I never understood hickeys, it's like I like you, so I'm gonna suck on your neck until there's bruising...'
(His Question Tuesday video on Romance & Sex taught me so much when I was a relatively innocent/clueless eighteen year-old thank you John love you)
It does basically boil down to that. You really like someone, maybe even love them, or at least can stand their company for longer than seven minutes, and so you choose to make a point of that by making a mark on this someone's body. I respect that, although I don't enjoy it much myself. It's a fascinating concept! It's almost primal in its nature. I may now actually Google where the hickey originated... Wish me luck...

(In case anyone needs to giggle and at the same time be educated somewhat)

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