Let’s start with a list, nothing fancy, nothing too taxing, just a straight-up collection, randomly compiled off the top of our heads.
OK, here goes:
Things That Don’t Look Out Of Place On A Neck
Let’s see, there’s collars, ties … jewellery … and
…. and that’s about it.
Pretty short list. But I’ve got a list that’s even shorter:
Things That Do Look Out Of Place On A Neck
It’s not hard, there are only two – tattoos and hickeys. Tattoos and love bites. Tattoos and … you get the picture.
(You could mount a case for tattoos as well, but that’s a whole other argument).
A hickey certainly doesn’t belong on my 17-year-old daughter’s neck. Not today, not tomorrow. NOT EVER.
Who the hell invented them? And, more to the point, why haven’t we eradicated them? The World Wildlife Fund says 10,000 species go extinct every year, yet somehow the hickey survives. It’s the cockroach of whatever it is a hickey is.
And have you noticed how hickeys attach themselves to people of a certain age? I don’t know if science will back me up here but anecdotal evidence would suggest you’re most at risk of getting one between the ages of 15-17, give or take a year either side. And then, nothing. They leave you alone.
While we're on the subject, I don't even know why it's called a hickey. Was it named after someone? And, if so, was it the "giver" or "receiver"? Who really deserves the credit, for want of a better word? Seriously, I'd like to meet this person and show him/her my daughter’s neck.
Fact is, it's not a hickey, or a love bite, or whatever else they call them these days. It's a huge, hideous disfigurement. A temporary tattoo sucked out by a boy who's about to know better.
My daughter certainly does now. At least I think she does. I hope she does. Mind you, I said the same thing last week when she brought her first hickey home. The one I'm now banging on about is her second in successive weeks. Yes, she's two for two - and that's two too many.
I let the first one slide ... sort of. I told her what I thought of it, told her it wasn't a great look, told her we've all had/given one (although my wife swears she never has), told her I'm not going to make a big deal about it THIS TIME so as not to compound her embarrassment and self-consciousness, told her it's the last one she's going to have.
Watch the video below for how to get rid of a hickey, you know, if you really need to. Post continues after video.
And she agreed with me. Even thanked me for being so reasonable.
I'd heard all these stories about "the teenage years", how difficult they are, blah, blah, blah. And yet here we were, father and daughter, calmly, respectfully, reasonably sorting it out.
I'm pretty sure I mentally gave myself a gold star that day. A gold star for dad-ing. Was even thinking of hiring myself out for seminars and the like. How To Tame Your Teenager - A Guide To Effective Parenting Presented By A Man Who's Been At The Coalface And Didn't Get Burned. Would there be a room big enough to jam in all the people I was going to save?
Problem was I was too busy congratulating myself to read the fine print on that contract I signed when my daughter entered the world. The bit where it says "when your child turns 17 he/she will cease to listen to you. He/she will look you in the eye and nod as if in furious agreement but in reality he/she is violently shaking his/her head and plotting their next misadventure. The difference is barely discernible but the consequences are anything but. Your child is no longer your child - they're your nemesis".
It went on to say things can, and probably will, change but basically, right now and for the foreseeable future, I'm at war and it will wreak havoc on our household.
It’s like she's been radicalised. She's quiet. But she's plotting.
How come no one talks about this stuff?
What the hell am I going to do? I can’t keep counting hickeys. At this rate in three weeks’ time she could put on a black cocktail dress and it will look like a turtleneck.
And what if it’s just a smokescreen? A decoy? A warning shot? Suddenly I can see how vulnerable I am. I’m looking in the mirror and what’s staring back at me is a duck. Can’t tell if it’s a sitting duck or lame duck but, either way, it’s not good.
Is it duck season already?
My best chance of coming out on top – or at least breaking even – is to get on the front foot. We’ve tried the diplomatic talks and they ended as they always do – with me thinking ‘that went well’ only to see her pick up where exactly where she left off.
It’s time to bring out the big guns. There’s only one problem though - I have no idea where I left them, let alone what condition they're in.
Can you help?