It was day 3 of New Student Orientation, and tensions were starting to subside. The first Instagram posts of newly-forming squads were beginning to surface. Sitting on Foss in my wire glasses and oversized jean jacket, I surveyed those around me also wearing wire glasses and oversized jean jackets. There was, though, another trend that caught my eye:
The Freshman Orientation Hickey.
Where were they coming from? Was there a giveaway at Usdan? Did they run out as quickly as the ice cream at the ice cream social did? I decided to take the plunge and investigate.“Oh, this old thing?” smiled a nameless 2021-er in a Sriracha t-shirt. “Yeah, you know. Wes is lit. Good vibes.”
Though my source didn’t exactly give me all the answers, he did set me on a path. I now knew a few ingredients for the freshman orientation hickey: vibes, and Wes already being lit by day 3. My course was deterred again when I tried to go find some vibes at Weshop, but they informed me it wouldn’t open until the coming weekend. My path nevertheless continued, for in my search to scientifically examine some vibes I had forgotten the most important, expedient, and commonly-used way of gathering information in college: asking a librarian.
“Vibes… yes, another set of things that’ve been added to the research world with technology and the internet. The lines are still a tad blurry on archiving those… let me just run a quick check our files,” offered the Olin librarian on shift, looking rather skeptical. “Hmm, okay. Someone did search through our vibes records today, but I can’t tell you their name. Confidentiality policy.”
Luckily, I had foreseen this roadblock. What the librarian didn’t realize was that I could see the name on the screen from my angle.
“Of course,” I nodded. “I understand. Thank you!”
And so I was on my way to track down Payton Millet ‘21.
It was not long before I ran into him at Espwesso and got his attention.
“Hey, Steph,” he said. “What’s with the Sherlock Holmes hat? Why are you looking at me through a magnifying glass?”
“Oh, I was just in that mood today.” As any good sleuth does, I made conversation for a while, to gain my subject’s trust and make him comfortable. So, when I began to ask him questions, he was happy to spill.
“So what do you think that hickey adds to your look?” I asked him. “As a freshman, especially.”
“It’s emblematic of the caution that we throw to the wind with a disregard for the social norms of where we came from, not like I didn’t get hickeys at home… this is a new normal.”
When I asked Millet about the public nature of the hickey, he told me, ”I got these two days ago, but I’m still getting comments as if they’re fresh. Some people I just saw in the wrong lighting the first time, and then they only just noticed them. It just adds an extra element of mystique… you’re in control of the narrative.” With a chuckle and a head shake, he conspiratorially added his gratitude that it was almost turtleneck season.
Was this true? Does the Freshman Orientation Hickey add mystique, or the exact opposite? Is Payton really in control of his narrative? Unless his neck can move with unimaginable flexibility, he is neither the one who gave himself the hickey nor the one looking at it as he walks around campus. If the hickey puts him in control of the narrative, then why make that statement of false modesty about being “eager to break out the turtlenecks”? It turns out that the power of the hickey is in its deliberate nature.
“I definitely feel set apart from the crowd… I feel distinguished in a way that only a freshman can be,” Payton beamed. “A group of seniors actually told me that you can’t get a hickey after age 20, so this is a really special time.”
Therein lies the true meaning of the Freshman Orientation Hickey. Yes, the hickey is an assurance that you are sexually appealing and probably charismatic, but more importantly the hickey shows all of your fellow lost freshmen that you are special beyond your obscure music taste. It is a physical mark that assures that you, a Chosen One, will be fine here.