I wasn’t a “fast” girl growing up…as a matter of fact I had my first kiss (a basic peck) in the final quarter of my senior year of high school, just two months shy of my 18th birthday. Despite this, I was quite the youngster when I encountered my first hickey.
I was in fifth grade.
Before entering fifth grade my father married my stepmother. My new stepsister was already attending the local parochial school, St. Peter. As a result I was transferred to St. Peter and immediately found myself surrounded by preppiness and extreme conservatism. Being the only Black student in my grade (and only one of five black students in the entire school with two of my siblings being in that number) made me stick out like a sore thumb and I was desperate to fit in.
I would come home and share the stories with my parents about the things seen and overheard throughout the day. The topic of sex came up quite often because I knew next to nothing about it. “Condoms” and “boners” were words that I sought the definitions of from my parents so that I would quit being made fun of on the school bus.
It was actually a bit strange that I didn’t know much about sex, seeing as to how amourous my dad and stepmother were. They were experts in the PDA arena and never failed at embarrassing me in front of family, friends and the general public. Amid the top of my frustration were the hickey’s they would leave on each other’s necks. Simply put, I thought it was gross and tacky.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t shy about letting them know how I felt about it. One day after watching them carry on with their childish antics, I shared my negative perspective with my dad. He listened intently, not taking me very seriously, and after I finished my spiel he demanded that I come closer to him. I obliged.
Next thing I knew my dad reached out and aggressively grabbed my face and turned it so that my cheek was facing him. I smiled because I could tell he was probably about to goof off and do something crazy that I’d have to wrestle my way out of. I was ready! I then felt his mouth suck on the apple of my cheek. I tried to pull away and his grip intensified. Much to my chagrin, in that single moment I realized what he was doing.
My dad was giving me a hickey!
I immediately began punching his arms and wriggling around like a little worm, desperate to escape his clutches. I knew that the longer he sucked, the worse the mark would be. After what seemed to be an eternity he let me go. Once he caught a glimpse of my cheek coupled with my mortified reaction he erupted into voracious laughter. I took off running down the hall to the bathroom to evaluate the damage. Sure enough, there on my cheek was a HUGE burgundy circle that was fading no time soon.
“Dad!” I screamed at him. “How am I supposed to explain this to my teachers tomorrow?!”
“Bwahahahahaha!” is all I got from him.
“So you want me to tell them, ‘My dad gave me a hickie?'” I asked, knowing good and well the negative implication the entire situation implied.
“Aww girl, shut up! Bet that’s the last time you try to tell me what you do and don’t like about what I do to my wife!” he retorted.
Sure enough, the next day I arrived to school anxiously anticipating that awkward moment that I would have to explain to all my teachers what was going on with my face. I forget what I told my classmates but when my homeroom teacher confronted me about it I tried to be as honest with her as possbile.
“My dad was playing around and he did this as a joke. I kept talking about him so this is how he got me back,” I tried to carefully explain to her.
She just gave me a very sad, concerned look before asking, “Are you okay?”
“Yes, yes I’m fine. It really was just a joke. He wasn’t serious.” I elaborated.
I couldn’t tell if she was buying it or not. It was obvious that she pitied me and would probably be keeping a close eye. There was no doubt in my mind that I’d be the topic of conversation in the teacher’s lounge that day.
For the next few days as the mark faded I felt such shame. I was walking around, the only Black girl, with a big old hickey that my father had given me in clear view for everyone to see! I was careful to watch my behavior in class because I didn’t want anyone thinking that I was secretly being sexually abused at home. I was SO salty at my dad for putting me in that position. How unfair! Each time he saw it he would chuckle lightly to himself. Simply put, it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.
And lastly, no, I never had another word to share about how I felt regarding my dad and the marks he chose to put on his wife. He got me TOO good with that one and I wasn’t about to be taught that lesson twice!