This summer my friend Amanda got a new boyfriend. Whenever Amanda gets a new boyfriend, they make out everywhere. Anywhere and Everywhere — that’s her policy, part of her very own “if you want to date me” initiation process. Then again, the rest of the world gets initiated right along with the newest pledge, and that’s when things get ugly.

One Saturday in late August, a group of my friends gathered to have our last summer hurrah. We decided on a favorite bar that we’ve been frequenting since the beginning of time (not too crowded, not too noisy, and great for hurrahs). I sauntered in about an hour late — as the only single in the group, I, unlike everyone else, have to care about how I look when I leave the house. Of course, I was met with a barrage of couples. Steve and Flavor-of-the-Month Tania, Jennifer and BF/GF 4-Evr Alex, Mike and I-Snapped-This-One-Up-On-the-Way-In Cookie. And of course, Amanda and My-New-Boyfriend-Suction-Face John. Great. This was going to be a wonderful night. I approached the group with my game face on, but I still didn’t know where to look. Couples No. 1 and No. 3 were doing that thing with their hands; Couple No. 2 (who have been “married” since the Stone Age) smiled and asked me how I was.

“Fabulous, thanks,” I replied, without a hint of sarcasm in my sweet, sweet voice.

Amanda and John (Couple No. 4) were off in a corner, and to be honest, they ain’t skeerd. Why would they be doing that thing with their hands when they could be doing that thing with their tongues?


The night turned out surprisingly well, yet, as I bore witness to Amanda and John’s nonstop make out session, I felt as if I was an unneeded extra in a soft-core porno.

But like a good extra, I had no lines and thus voiced no concerns.

Things took an unexpected twist, though, as Amanda and John sped home in a cab. There is an unwritten rule about cabs in New York. As long as you tip well, you can do whatever you like in the back. In every movie about New York ever made in the history of grand romances, people make out in cabs. It is the quintessential New York thing to do. And Amanda and John are quintessential New Yorkers.

They kissed passionately as they sped up Park Avenue. All of a sudden the speeding stopped. The two of them didn’t notice at first, but when they finally came up for air, they were met with the angry face of the cab driver.

“If you don’t stop that,” he said, “I will let you off right here.”

Amanda dismounted John sheepishly.

This man stood up for his rights and I applaud him. He refused to be yet another of the countless American victims of PDAs each year.

Over lunch, Amanda furiously recounted this story to me as she chewed vigorously on her lobster ravioli.

“I mean, can you BELIEVE that?” she asked. “I know people who have had SEX in a cab, like penetration and everything. How dare he tell me I can’t MAKE OUT in one?”

In some ways, I envy Amanda — she is eager to go out there and tell the world, “Bonjour, I have a boyfriend,” and follow it up with a zillion exclamation marks. In other ways, Amanda makes me nauseated. Witnessing Public Displays of Affection, as the technical term goes, is perhaps one of the most uncomfortable situations one might ever find oneself in. Everyone has been there — the third wheel with a particularly, ahem, demonstrative, couple, when all of a sudden they are sucking face like a pair of dirt devils and you are left to contemplate life’s great mysteries — the length of your cuticles, cloud formations, or why the cheese stands alone in that song.

The general Yale population had some harsh things to say about the big, bad PDA.

Everyone, of course, except for one guy. When I asked him how he felt about PDAs, he answered, “Personal Digital Assistants? I can’t live without mine!”

Kill yourself. No really, do it.

The rest of us categorize PDAs into two distinct arenas: the Active and the Passive. The Active PDA is used as a form of advertisement. It’s like a Burger King commercial. They want you to believe that they just can’t keep their hands off that piece of meat. Mmmmm. They just want to BITE it!

According to most males, in this case, they prefer vegetarians.

“When a girl can’t keep her hands off my puck,” said one hockey player, “usually it’s because she wants the rest of the world to know that we’re together.”

He went on to explain that it comes down to confidence. If his current “stick” cannot stick to herself, she is looking for reassurance. She wants to know that he is in it for the long haul, and not just for her, um, penalty box.

Am I taking this hockey thing too far?

The Passive PDA, on the other hand, is exhibited by couples who are so incredibly in love that they are oblivious of the rest of the world and only have eyes for one another.

Like Fred and Wilma Flintstone. Like Lucy and Ricky. Like Aerosmith once they sobered up.

In both of these cases, the general public is left in the dust, silently fuming, wondering when it’s all going to end. And by “it,” I mean their lives.

I have thus compiled a guide, a little when and how of the PDA.

There are a few situations that were pointed out to me by the student body as acceptable PDA moments and locales — all of western Europe, partings and greetings, within 24 hours of marriage, and the most heralded of all, at Toad’s.

Yes, that’s right, apparently there is such a thing as the TDA — the Toad’s Display of Affection, which leads, more often than not to the PDE — the Public Display of Erection.

As one dashing young gentleman put it, “Hooking up on the dance floor at Toad’s is like shaking hands in public anywhere else.”

If you do find yourself engaging in approved PDA moments, you might want to watch out, for what has been identified as PDA-idue. That is, what is left behind on one’s face and body following a particularly passionate PDA (or TDA).

When you have finished publicly displaying your affection, watch out for that nasty around-the-mouth-moisture which is left by a particularly voracious lover. Also keep your eyes peeled for the PDA faux-pas to end them all — the nasty saliva string that may connect you and your partner after a little makeout sesh in Beinecke Plaza. Unless it’s girl-on-girl in “Cruel Intentions.” Then it’s hot.

Also, as one particularly ambitious biology student informed me, “Do not stick your whole fist in someone’s mouth as a sign of affection.”

We can all safely say that fists —


In my view, the PDA is not necessarily bad if done right.

Ladies, when you are aware that you will be having a PDA make it look good. Wear heels, wear red lipstick, smoke a cigarette and toss it carelessly over your shoulder when your partner approaches. Wear a beret if you like. Guys — keep your hands out of the back of her jeans. Keep your hands out of the inside of her shirt. Make your PDAs short and brief, but very intense.

Just like tighty whities.

Oh — and try to ensure that each of you is at least mildly attractive. No one wants to see a coupla ugly people making out.

As for that cab driver that Amanda encountered?

He’s definitely cruising the streets of New York right now thinking, “Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.”

Natalie Krinsky wants to PDA with a gangsta.