Consider The Hickey

Our friends over at Day to Day did a great story on hickeys. You know, those badges of honor you wore on and off up until your mid-twenties? After age twenty-five or so, a hickey is more likely to look like a health scare than a remnant from a night of passion.

My first sight of a hickey was in jr. high. A guy came into English class and showed us all how his girlfriend had made a smiley face out of hickeys on his stomach. I can't imagine what that girl is doing now but I hope it involves her own vacuum business.

Anyhow, it's still Valentine's Day, so if you haven't gone out and purchased anything, or had time to make a mix CD, consider the hickey. Why settle for flowers when you can give, or get, a neck bouquet?

Here is the story from Day to Day. Enjoy.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

I made The Lady a super dorky card with Obama's face on the front that said "You Barack my world" on the inside. Bless her heart, she didn't roll her eyes.

Clearly, it was a better choice than one that said "Huckabee mine."

Sent by James | 8:21 PM | 2-14-2008


I myself suck @ giving them so I dont. lol.

Sent by Marissa Dailey | 9:00 PM | 2-14-2008

Happy Valentine's Day, Carrie!

Sent by mikey | 10:11 PM | 2-14-2008

One time, a LONG LONG time ago... (like, middle school so, 20 years ago around) My gf at the time showed up to school with a hickey on her neck... and she explains it to me... "Its nothing, me and Chris were just fooling around, dont worry"

I dont think I ever talked to either again... and have for ever been scarred by the HICKEY.

Can we get a V-Day mix CD list of songs for us single readers out here...

Id HAVE to have Sleater-Kinneys "How 2 Play Dead" and REMs "The One I Love" on it...

Sent by Kramer | 11:43 PM | 2-14-2008

Or if you're like me and you got nothing, you stay home and watch Futurama DVD's until you fall asleep.

Sent by Nick L. | 11:45 PM | 2-14-2008

Oh, and happy birthday to the state of Oregon.

Sent by Nick L. | 11:52 PM | 2-14-2008

Freshman Year in High School me and some older friends of mine (Sophomores and Juniors) drove over the state line to the town of Panama City Beach, Florida. There could have been music playing but since we were in a jeep with the top and the doors off I could only hear wind, loud wind. We get to our hotel which had to be booked by someone's mom (since we were all minors). Happy to be on the beach I left the ocean front room and went down to a volley ball game. Once on the sand some drunk college aged meat head comes up behind me and grabs a handfull of my long hair, I take a grip of his forearm and twist it around, his grip holds and his friends come over to talk him down. Broken up, appologies from his friends (he's drunk, he's a jerk, here take a beer) and all is forgotten.
That night I wonder off with a friend from our group and end up at some hotel party whereupon young love appears in the form a college freshman who wore her blonde hair long and smelled like apples. Privacy was sought, partially found, things got romantic ... good byes were shared and in the early mourn I find my way back to my room and fall asleep.
Late morning I was brushing my teeth when I look in the mirror I notice my neck. I had a map of Europe on my neck in hickey's. Humor insued.

Sent by Simon D. | 12:12 AM | 2-15-2008

I got a hickey one time from my boyfriend and my mom nearly killed me! I haven't had a hickey since then. I was about 16 years old??
now I take pleasure in removing them from others that need it. Lipstick cap on hickey-->apply pressure-->twist slow--->imagine how much that hurts! Hickeys remind me of baby's and pacifiers; I thought we left those behind not long after we were born? come on people

Sent by Danielle | 6:02 AM | 2-15-2008

I had a friend in college whose boyfriend used to give her hickeys before we went out without him. When I inquired why, he stated that it was a way to claim her and keep other boys away. I asked why he didn't just pee on her leg.

Sent by Jaryn | 8:33 AM | 2-15-2008

The British term for them is "love bites". So much more... well vampiric.

Sent by Julia | 8:38 AM | 2-15-2008

I once received a hickey in the shape of a "Z"

It left great psychological damage.

Sent by Tim | 11:39 AM | 2-15-2008

hickeys are so gross. i think its hilarious when people try and hide them or lie about them. i'm sorry, but if you're a guy with a buzz cut- i am not going to believe that you burned yourself with a curling iron.

Sent by Lauren | 12:50 PM | 2-15-2008

I got a hickey once from this girl in high school and it was monstrous! Seriosuly, it took up half of my neck! Anyways, I woke in the morning and noticed (how could I not) and put on a turtle neck to wear throughout the was it was about 101 that day! People looked at me like a freak all day :)

Sent by A.R. | 2:51 PM | 2-15-2008

blame it on the chupacabra

Sent by tim | 8:46 PM | 2-15-2008

Oddly enough, the first thing I think of when I think of hickeys is The Nation of Ulysses.

I think "You Were My Miss Washington D.C." makes for a decent Valentine's Day song.

Sent by James | 11:23 PM | 2-15-2008

yeah how can you avoid NOU... i guess they've forever claimed ownership of hickeys everywhere...

Sent by JonE | 4:37 AM | 2-16-2008

hickeys are gross.

in high school, i was very envious of the cool kids who had them.

from that distance, you imagine they are the by-product of a pleasurable erotic act, rather than ends-in-themselves meant only to make other people envious (or make yourself feel cool).

so, why do I miss high school so much? it was so long ago. Maybe I really should have grown up after all...

Sent by David G. | 10:28 AM | 2-16-2008

My first girlfriend gave me a hickey that took up the entire left side of my neck; I thought it was pretty cool, and didn't know why everyone else wanted me to cover it up.

Of course, when I tried to return the favor, my girlfriend quickly told me not to even think of doing it!

Sent by Glenn | 3:12 PM | 2-16-2008

ah...v-tines day. the most bittersweet of holidays...

going to be in portland this wkend...hopefully will get to see what the fair city is all about ;-)

Sent by tyler cheung | 8:31 PM | 2-18-2008

I wonder who actually gave the first hickey? Is there documentation of the very first hickey? And then, what caused the hickey trend to grow as big as it did.
Honestly, I always saw hickeys as a way for someone to mark their territory. I guess, in that sense, its better than peeing on someone.

Sent by Jess H | 10:51 AM | 2-19-2008

I don't really get these responses. What's gross about hickeys? Is it just shame of one's sexuality being revealed?

Do people who think hickeys are gross also think tattoos are gross? Or is it a difference in what makes the mark?

Sent by J. | 3:28 PM | 2-26-2008


NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from