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ISSUE 118 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/19/2004

P.D.A., go away

By Jennifer Hancock
Contributing Writers

Friday, November 19, 2004

In fact, just the other day, I was minding my own business at Tostrud, when a couple started getting squirrelly. In Tostrud? People are supposed to go to Tostrud to work on their own bodies, not those of others. I was there to blow off steam, not watch soft-core porn. They destroyed the sanctity of my workout environment. I could not look away, even though I was utterly disgusted. It was like driving past a car accident on the freeway. I had to look. I had to see how long it lasted, minute after agonizing minute. They kept going and going and going. I imagine that after they completed their very public foreplay, they probably scampered over to their residence hall, sweaty after their intense workout, and made sweet love. At least they got a room for that.

I was somewhat troubled with my own disgust when I witnessed this particular PDA incident. After all, I write the freaking sex column. I, of all people, should not be so prudish. I tried to understand the allure of PDA a little better. My conclusion is that PDA culprits must either be oblivious to the annoyance they cause others, or they get off on the thought of other people watching them grope each other.

Sometimes I wonder if PDA-inclined couples are so passionately in love that they cannot contain themselves. The cynical side of me cannot help but conclude that many PDA offenders are overcompensating in public for the emotional and physical intimacy they lack in private.

These couples are trying to prove to others, and themselves, that their flagging relationships are thriving. They are crying out,"Look, look: We really love each other. We really, really do." And they really, really don't.

For example, just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine was engaged in some hot and heavy PDAs with his new partner.

In addition to an overwhelming feeling of nausea, I also felt jealous watching them touch tenderly while a group of us sat around and talked. Why wasn't I so irresistible to my boyfriend? A few weeks later, however, this hyper-physical couple broke up.

Clearly, public passion does not reveal the underlying quality of a relationship. The couples who are the most reserved in public might actually be animals in the bedroom and share greater intimacy than those who are constantly hanging on each other.

But I must make myself clear. I do not have a problem with handholding, a kiss, a hug or even a discrete tush squeeze. I do not think most people have a problem with a little bit of public loving, but there is definitely a line between appropriate and inappropriate ways to show affection. Small displays of affection are a great way to mark your territory and show your partner how much you love him/her.

But really intense macking with wandering fingers and wild, slobbery tongues? Can that even be called a display of affection? The word "affection" is much too benign. I think PDL (Public Display of Lust) would be a more appropriate acronym for the kind of public displays that nauseate me, and dare I say, many of my fellow students.

A good rule of thumb to judge the appropriateness of a public display of affection is to imagine that your mother or father is watching.

If you would do it in front of them, then you can probably do it in Fireside or Tostrud. If you would not touch your girlfriend's breasts in front of your mother, then, please, follow this age-old saying and "Get a room."

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