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2004-07-15 - 3:42 p.m.

“What the hell is that? What are you, in fifth grade? Christ, man…”

The man in question was taking large gulps of coffee, sitting at his desk at work. He plied his e-mail, and worked the phones, helping change policies across an international corporation, but upon baring his neck, he may as well have been carrying a G.I. Joe lunch pail instead of a leather briefcase.


Just say the word and try to sound adult. It’s an impossibility.

“Johnson. We need to earmark the Apex shipment in Oslo for express routing. I cannot express the importance this may have on our future business deals or on our reputation amongst this cell in our customer base. And, might I add, that’s a lovely hickey you’ve garnered yourself there. My compliments to the missus.”

The word seems to demand a giggle behind it. Calling them love bites just reduces you to a melodramatic fifth grader, and any attempts at medical euphemism, i.e. broken capillaries, just makes it sillier.

In ancient times when we were quite new to the battle of the sexes, all we understood of sex was the kissing thing. I’d like to know if there is any single person who, in their youth, did not have a near three-hour make out festival because they did not know what else to do once your jaw got tired and your lips chapped.

“Wait, let’s mix it up. This time you come in from the left, instead of the right.”

“Wow, you’re kinky.”

In this kind of environment, the whole hickey thing becomes a red badge of courage; a symbol of your commitment, really.

“We stayed in there, and just kept at it. It needed doing. And it was done.”

The Hickey: a symbol of our exuberant, inexperienced jaunts into the world of sensuality.

That said, why are they so leper-tastic in the adult world? Granted our years have granted most of us the knowledge and wisdom necessary to know where human skin will fail on the suck stress test. In our professional lives, having an unsightly bruise on your neck might not be complimentary. But the biters are still out there. They’re on your streets. They shop at your grocery store. You never know, the woman who double checks your weekly reports may well be one of them.

Are you now, or have you ever been…a biter.

And more power to them. If we can accept those who see a pair of handcuffs and find love, why not have open arms for those who find love between their teeth.

These things do not take that much effort. An ex-girlfriend once showed off her ability to leave a lasting impression in less than ten seconds. She generated what looked like a map of Argentina, thankfully on my stomach, in less time than it takes to read this sentence.

Accidents happen, passions rage out of control. And for this reason I offer up my guide to surviving a hickey. (Note: Those trying to conceal the remnants of a vampire attack might be able to make use of this as well.)

First, the coverage question. Gentlemen, we are the losers in this area. A large percentage of women have on hand, not just consealer but make-up and other beautification tools to render the offending spot negligible. Guys, spackle just doesn't mesh into epidermis. Our only option is to cover the area with gauze and explain that you were involved in a knife fight the day before. Leading to the inevitable: “You should see the other guy.”

Certain forms of attire can cover the area, but once again the ladies have a much greater palette to work with. Chokers, scarves and neckerchiefs are fashionable even in the hotter months. (In fact, I’ve seen way to many scarves in the last few weeks, and I mean the down to the floor, sometimes have snowmen on them scarves.) We have no such option, as donning a neckerchief makes you look like Fred from Scooby-Doo. Men have to go digging through their closets hunting for that one turtleneck their mother gave them three birthdays back. (Unless, of course, they’re English professors. Then they just go with their standard Tuesday apparel.) In the absence of tortoise wear, explain to your coworkers that were taken by an urge to dress up, and break out the ties. A collared shirt drawn to the neck with something in paisley might do the job.

Inevitably, someone notices, and you have to spit out an excuse. The key here is to dryly say anything, and then change topic so quickly that they have to time to process the bullshit. A few of my favorites:

“I was subdued by a East African Stinger Beetle, and it laid its eggs in my neck. It’s itchy, but I’ve come to accept my place in the circle of life.”

“Oh, just a flesh eating disease. You sure you don’t want some of my potato chips?”

“I’m allergic to silver, so wearing the medallion of Urlfrec during the purification rite over at Davey’s house last night was probably a mistake. You don’t even want to see what my robe looks like today…yowza!”

“I’m cupping. Like Gweneth. It really cleanses the aura.”

“Fuckin’ Leaches. Some guy offers you a houseboat with a “lovely view of the wetlands.” You tell him to go squat on a spike.”

Then again, you can just use my standard.

“I fell on a vacuum.”

Before they ask under what circumstances you were assaulted by a home appliance, offer them a twizzler.

All will be well

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