Ahh, those Public Displays of Affection — how I know them so well. I live in The City of Love. Some call it The City of Light, but those people haven’t seen a couple having sex on a park bench in broad daylight before. It is expected — nay, often encouraged — here for people to grab each other with the bright, burning passion of a collapsing star and get to second and a half base in front of the whole world. It is adorable, it is cute, it is l’amour. Perhaps the constant exposure has made me hypersensitive to the saliva-covered phenomenon, but I have lived in several other cities, cities which do not have such a lax policy on open-air foreplay, and I can confirm that egregious PDA is a problem everywhere. PDA is out of control; PDA must stop.
Rule #1: You must have hit puberty to engage in PDA.
I have already addressed my growing concern for the more amorous/ vulgar children in my neighborhood, but I feel I must reiterate: If your testicles have not yet lost the battle with gravity/ you are still waiting on Aunt Flo to visit you in the night and leave a tampon under your pillow (as she does), please refrain from dry humping in public. It’s unsettling, it’s uncomfortable, and honestly — you are forcing passerby to watch live-action child pornography. Do you want that guilt on your chest? No. You want to finish out your precious childhood playing with your Pogs and perhaps, if you are truly in love, holding hands. (No fingers interlaced, that is for sluts.)
Rule #2: There is a staunch, five-second maximum on all embraces.
I know that, when caught in the moment of a passionate kiss, it’s hard to unlock yourself from your lover’s lips and come up for air. You’d rather die of asphyxiation than leave those soft, plush lips for even a moment. But there is a clear, hard line between a kiss and a makeout, and that line is five seconds. After that, you just become the couple that is awkwardly standing in the middle of the sidewalk, licking the back of each others’ throats, oblivious to the movements and etiquette of society. It’s awkward, people having to shove past you and/ or pretend they cannot see you. And frankly, it wells up in even the most reserved onlooker the burning desire to watch, if only to see how long they’re actually going to keep doing this. The phrase “get a room” was created specifically to be hurled in your direction.
Rule #3: No side-by-side seating in restaurants.
Perhaps, if you are just getting a coffee or a drink at a little cafe — out on the terrace or in a back booth, maybe — I could let this slide. But if you are out at a restaurant for a full-on, multiple-course, utensil-requiring, precarious-glass-involving dinner, get the hell over to your respective sides. I’m sorry, but no amount of love, no Leo and Kate or Jim and Pam or Carrie and Big love, could ever justify the unimaginable bullshit that is eating dinner on the same side of a cramped table. No love overcomes your elbows bumping into each other, or forks clanging awkwardly. No passion will keep the wait staff from mocking you mercilessly over by the bar (“Did you see Pepe Le Pew over at Table 14? If he doesn’t get some tonight, he’s gonna hang himself”). No infatuation will make the other two seats on the perfectly good side of the table not seem so glaringly unused. No one cares how in love you are, it’s weird and awkward, go eat facing each other like adults.
Rule #4: Location, location, location.
If your love is roaring inside you like a great volcano and you just cannot wait until you get home to take your lover in your virile arms, perhaps you should map out a little trajectory for the route back to your bedroom and decide which places are and are not appropriate to get your grope on. For example, in the middle of public transportation — not okay. I know that love has made you blind to all of the harsh unpleasantness of the world around you, but public transportation is essentially a moving toilet. People sneeze on the poles without a second thought, fart onto the faux-leather seats, and just generally engage in the most regressive acts humans are capable of. Just the knowledge that two people would choose such a place for simulated coitus is horrific, actually seeing it just viscerally reminds you how unfit to touch every surface is around you. You already had the flu to worry about, now you might catch chlamydia on the way home. But there are more appropriate locations. Strolling through a park — not quite so offensive.
Rule #5: You may be coupled now, but remember that you were once single.
When you are near a third wheel, be it a stranger sitting next to you at the bus stop or your naive friend who thought you two could make it through a whole movie without performing public oral sex, it behooves you to refrain as much as possible from PDA. No one knows how to deal with it when couples get all gropey in front of them, because any response requires acknowledging what is going on, and the idea is to pretend nothing is happening. Asking you to stop would make them a cock block, trying to lighten the mood with a joke or comment would make them look socially inept, and joining in is rarely a viable option on all sides. Don’t put others in the awful position of having to ignore the giant, naked, undulating elephant in the room — save it for when you’re in private.
Rule #6: No grabbing of sensitive areas.
There is no reason, not a single one on this entire planet, that should justify people grabbing each others’ genitals in public. Breasts should not be fondled. (If it is a breast exam, which are quite necessary and relatively effective, there are alleys and Starbucks bathrooms in which to carry out your cancer screenings.) No hands should cross into the back pockets of each others’ jeans. Not only does that make you look like extras from a Kenny Chesney video, but it makes everyone walking behind you stare at your respective (and not often attractive) posteriors. And, for the love of God, stay away from the reproductive organs. Ladies, there will be no subtle fondling of the testicles. Gentleman, why in the world would you just randomly cup a woman’s vagina? I would say it couldn’t be done, but I have seen it with my own two eyes. I recommend, for those of you who insist on doing it, chinese finger traps or Rubik’s Cubes to occupy your wandering, inappropriate hands.
Rule #7: If you are a bro, stop the threatening glares of suspicion at every other male after an egregious PDA session.
Don’t worry, Pauly D, no one would touch your walking Hep C Delivery System with a ten-foot-pole.