I sat at the lunch table mindlessly chewing my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and pulling at the stem of my slightly bruised apple. I then heard Stephanie saying my name, “What about you, Angie?”
“Huh?” I asked, between bites of my Wonder Bread.
“Have you ever had a hickey?”
I was ten years old. I had no damn idea what a hickey was, so I took another bite of my sandwich and avoided an immediate answer by slowly savoring the creamy Jif. I knew they had been talking about what boys they liked, and assumed that a hickey was something cool a boy gave you and something I probably ought to have had by the oh so mature age of ten. I didn’t want to seem like a little kid or like I wasn’t desired by the opposite sex.
“Uhm … yeah,” I softly replied.
“Yeah, so have Stacy and I,” Stephanie stated with a smile that informed me my reply, although a lie, was the appropriate affirmative response.
Shortly after my fib and Stephanie’s boastful statement, the bell rang out for the end of lunch period. We all got up, returned our trays to the lunch ladies or disposed of our paper lunch bags and headed back to Mr. Smith’s classroom.
I didn’t feel right the rest of the afternoon as I sat at my desk and completed grammar assignments or attempted to listen attentively to Mr. Smith’s lectures on history. My stomach turned the rest of the day nervous and anxious as to what I had confessed to. What’s a hickey? What’s a hickey? I have to know. Oh, god! What if it’s gross? Stephanie didn’t seem to think it was gross, but oh god! I need to know what a hickey is … NOW!! It’s all I could think while I should have been memorizing the names of presidents.
At that time, there was no World Wide Web, or “information superhighway,” as I first remember it being marketed to us when I was in high school. Had it been this day and age, I could have just asked Google to give me the answer. That wasn’t an option, so I remained in the dark. I was too afraid to ask the other girls, whom all seemed to already know. I was certainly too embarrassed to ask my mother.
I had my “a-ha!” moment about several weeks later while watching an episode of Who’s the Boss? where Alyssa Milano’s character Samantha was given a hickey by her beau. She wore turtlenecks all week trying to hide the lip sucking montrosity that is a hickey from her father. She also made up a new dance craze where you tilt your neck when he saw her sans turtleneck. “Gross!” I yelled aloud, and could not believe that only a few weeks earlier I had lied and said I was given one of these disgusting things.
I have never, ever in my life allowed any boyfriend of mine to give me a hickey. I think they are absolutely revolting, and I was always reminded of my dishonesty whenever a young man started kissing my neck. I would freeze up in shame and disgust and tell him to stop before he left his mark. This was way before the Twilight madness too, so vampires weren’t considered sexy and I didn’t want anyone nipping at my neck!
My own daughter will be wise to wear a turtle neck in an attempt to hide the mark of her indiscretions should she ever come home with a hickey, especially if she is only age ten. I was ten years old! I was only in the fifth grade when my friends asked if I had ever had a hickey. I can only hope that they were all lying too and had asked because Alyssa Milano was the coolest and they must have seen the same Who’s the Boss? episode when it first ran. I can tell you that I am the boss of this household now and ain’t no ten year old coming home with a hickey. Gross!