Between a Wall and Hard Place
By Carey Jones
Ah, the Hook-up: the quintessential college social experience. More
which survives the weekend to circulate ’til the next Thursday. Delightfully suggestive of scandal, the very term “hook-up” is perfectly suited to describing to one’s friends a wide array of encounters: specific enough to provide gossip fodder, vague enough to spare the listener unnecessary detail. But the very sanctity of the hook-up came under assault last week in the alleged safety of online polling (note: Point does not record how you vote). In a staggering display of incompetence 45% of the Pointster population agreed to define “hooking up” as a “kiss with tongue.” In giving only physical criteria to judge by, the Point Poll of last week implicitly and wrongly suggested that “hooking up” can be defined solely in terms of reaching some threshold. But hooking up is a richly complicated endeavor carrying implications far beyond the physical, all of which
are contained in our everyday parlance of the term.
I therefore RESOLVE that a genuine hookup should entail:
1) physical contact equal or greater to lip contact;
2) mutual intention somehow sexual in nature;
3) a process not entailing its own completion;
4) improper conduct in the context of polite company.
If the Point Poll defined anything correctly it was the minimum physical basis of a hook-up. I’m sorry, all you starry-eyed romantics, but holding hands does not constitute hooking up; nor do dance floor grinding, little bitty cheek kisses, or moonlight serenades – no matter how cute. A high school acquaintance of mine often recounts her “hook-ups” with great feeling– and yet, until last month, described herself as a “kiss virgin.” (Yes, I spent seven years of my pre-Princeton life in a convent. Yes, I lived amongst Puritans.) There is no such thing as a kiss virgin and there is no such thing as a hook-up short of first base. We are no longer in sixth grade and the basic standard of sexual intent is the full-on kiss. Anything less is kidding yourself.
However, while the kiss is necessary to the hook-up, it is not sufficient. Nor does any further progression of sexual activity automatically qualify; even sex itself cannot always be called hooking up. I will maintain to the death that my parents did not “hook up” to
create me. Old people (if they have any sense of propriety) do not hook up. Dogs in heat do not hook up. And Adam and Eve certainly did not hook up to beget Cain and Abel.
Mutual recognition of the “hooking up” situation and some degree of sexual intention are key. One is not hooking up with one’s roommate if copious alcohol consumption leads to drunken tongue hockey. If an unattractive boy manages to plant a kiss on me on the TI dance floor before I shove him off, we did not hook up. Hooking up is fundamentally
a process which must fully involve both parties and suggest continuation; it’s uncertain, it’s exciting; you don’t know where it will go. It can’t have an implicit end. And hooking up in the true sense cannot be done in polite company (no, the Street is not polite
company– please.) You don’t have to be behind closed doors, but you do have to be doing things you couldn’t do in front of your mother or on a street corner. Dance floor sex, if it involves making out, can be hooking up; the kiss signifying intention, the full-on contact, mutual recognition, the orgiastic crowd encouraging continuation. An extended
kiss on a well-beaten campus pathway on a Tuesday evening, however, is
not a hook-up, no matter how sweet or novel.
To preserve the integrity of the term “hook-up,” we must use it sparingly and only when applicable. Max Kenneth seeks to exploit the poor hook-up and render it meaningless by extending it to as many situations as possible, serving only to add tally marks to the tally
of his already overextended ego. But if we want a makeout tally, we can have a makeout tally. The use of the base system (though, granted controversial – what exactly is second base?) works perfectly well. Hell, my roommates and I have a sixteen-point scale. Be creative. But the sanctity of the hook-up is much more important. The beauty of the term lies all that it implies, but doesn’t confirm; hookups are illicit! exciting! scandalous! Equating them with anything physical brings them squarely back down to the realm of the mundane. And don’t we all want our hook-ups to be more than that?
PS: My roommate wishes to add that “anything involving a wall” could be
a hook-up. I think I agree.
“Hooking Up”…as it were
Is a kiss just a kiss?
Now at eighteen in my sexual and intellectual prime, I care for nothing more in the realm of Aphrodite than acquiring more “hook-ups” to add to my tally. But numbers, fair Princetonian ladies, aren’t the only thing I’m trying to keep up.
Stop your sordid, lascivious, lecherous thoughts that plague the gray, hazy sponge between your ears that cause you to see nothing but a cheap double entendre using the concept of lifting and elevation. Myopic wenches! I am of course referring to my need to keep up my wits—to keep them about me, as the petty intellectual bourgeoisie are saying—in order to intake, digest, comprehend, and battle back with regard to the recent philosophical question regarding semantics that has arisen from the controversy the Point Poll broached late last week—a topic that single-handedly sought to disembowel and undercut my consummate universe.
“’What do you consider “hooking up?’” it questioned in a manner as frightening as a bosom serpent (phallic symbol not intended) as if squirming and reaching out to poke, with a forked, tongue my glorious café-au-lait eyes, which I use to tempt women in order to “hook up” with them.
Because of the posed question, I must fight with words, verbally wrestle, a charming, albeit inconsequential, pseudo-intellectual nemesis— one Carey Jones— on the semantics of our all-too wretched vernacular concerning “hooking up.” But because it remains under my not at all humble opinion that this epic debate can never be resolved, I stand in a situation of damned if I do, damned if I don’t. I’d appear to be a wuss in backing down from a challenge of linguistic gun slinging, but I see as inevitable the endless interpretations of language from each person and thus the inability to resolve this conflict.
But I proceed, because, for me, trying to resolve and negotiate the denotations and connotations of phrases stands as literary masturbation; this leads me—in an associative lemon twist of thought—to the prerequisite of my argument about things that are certainly not “hooking up:”
*Caressing a pregnant prose style
*Afternoon reveries of damsels
Now that we have narrowed, as it were, the marrow and bones, as it were, of our argument, we must try to reconcile this saga of a debate.
In the days of our parents, “hooking up” meant rendezvousing at a predetermined destination for a social or professional engagement. A Semitic grandmother, for example, may have inclined her head and mentioned to her two daughters that they should “hook up” for lunch.
But “hooking up” in the sexual sense does contain in the vats of its language the combination, the tying together, the conjoining so oft spoken of in mechanical terms; as such the term refers, indubitably, to the lacing together the two blushing pilgrims of lips and delicately squirming tongue.
But to distinguish a mere French kiss from “hooking up,” there has to be an extended “moment”—sometimes lasting a minute, sometimes 30 or more—in which there is mutual consent from both parties to perpetuate this ineffable moment of confluence of lust and affection.
Some, the feeble and silly people, feel the need to define a “hook-up” as going at least to second base and coping a feel, but the actual phrase merely intimates a hooking, a latching, a connection—a connection that can be satisfied by the union of lips and tongue.
Indeed the term “hook-up” can apply to going further than a French kiss, and though we often view the term in question as crude, we can more tactfully use it in lieu of naming an activity that is performed with jiggling hangs, bobbing mouths, or thrusting pelvises.
My critics—and indeed there exist many—may take issue and beg to differ with the definition I have laid forth, and as such, I must address language (my highest area of expertise second to “hooking up”) to dispel any trivial rebuttals that may come my way.
Any argument on the semantics of “hooking up” or interpretation of language in general is diaphanous, tenuous, mere silky gossamer that—though constructed beautifully with sentences that have every rift loaded with ore—remains feeble in the end with the inability and failure to persuade completely with a large starting domino of a claim that continues to tip over all other definitions in swirling eddies until the one premise stands triumphant having exhausted itself to knock down the others.
I’m wary of language. I tend to hang on my words like thumbs in the saggy pockets of loose fitting jeans—relaxed, ponderously, and still precariously ready to slip at any moment from comfort. Interpretation never remains objective, and the interpreter himself may take words at the value at which he comprehends them. As such, the listener, not the speaker, has the last word; ergo, the reader, not the writer, has the final interpretation.
We are silly to try to define words categorically, catholically. If language stands as my lawful wedded wife, word investigation remains my mistress. Exploration of the idiosyncrasies of language remains valid for the possibility of discovering more truths about our culture, our youth, our trends, and our epistemology.
But I look to Borges for anything regarding language, and in my sight I see the “Library of Babel,” a short story of his in which Borges envisions a universe composed of a labyrinth of infinite bookshelves with the same number of pages in each book and the same number of books on each shelf. The epigraph to the story is “By this art you may contemplate the variation of the 23 letters,” and the overarching theme of the story remains the possibility of infinite combinations of letters, words, themes, and as such an infinite interpretation of language.
The debate from our cherished Point Poll cannot be resolved, but please, I beg of you, let’s compromise and stick with the French-kiss in a “moment” so that my New Year’s “hook-ups,” and dance floor “hook-ups,” and kisses that amounted to no further progression can “count” for my tally. I need to keep my numbers up.