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The Snowflake Diaries: What’s a Little Motorboating Between Friends?

Through various channels it has come to my attention that Khloé Kardashian was pregnant for the past nine months, that the father is NBA player Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that the couple welcomed their baby girl into the world on Thursday morning. This happy occasion, however, was presumably strained given new revelations of Thompson’s unfaithfulness: When he’s not taking a woman from the club back to his hotel room, he’s getting an over-the-pants half-handjob in a hookah lounge.

Of the canoodling caught in the surveillance footage above, one moment has received significant attention: when the woman nearest to Thompson grabs his head and draws it into her cleavage, allowing him to rub his mouth vigorously between her boobs. This is popularly known as “motorboating,” and I’m frankly shocked at how many people have gone through life unaware of the act, what it’s called, or why someone might like it.

Look. Within the context of Thompson’s evening, the motorboating clearly qualifies as cheating, no less than the makeouts and the dick-stroking. But I’d hate for this incident to convince us that motorboarding is intrinsically sleazy or uncouth. True, the maneuver has a special status among the juvenile — Vince Vaughn memorably called Owen Wilson “a motorboatin’ son of a bitch” in Wedding Crashers and demonstrated the blustery lip-flipping noise meant to accompany one’s faceplant in the tits — yet there is no reason to let the 13-year-old boys define it. Motorboating needn’t even be explicitly sexual!

First, let’s touch upon the mechanics. In a romantic encounter, there are plenty of ways to caress, gently squeeze, or kiss a partner’s breasts to the pleasure of both parties. Motorboating does not qualify. It’s funny more than it is foreplay, and while it could conceivably happen on the way to a full-blown fuck, it’s not likely to be the most arousing incitement for either person. If anything, it celebrates the silly strangeness in human bodies and their attraction — that half the population walks around with potentially milk-producing mounds of fat on their chests, and that said protrusions play such a huge role in the collective erotic imagination. Were you to render a verbal translation of motorboating, it’d be something like “Whoa!” or “Whee!” or “What are thooooose!”

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The point is, nobody should miss out on the novelty of this jiggly, vibrational experience, which, again, doesn’t have to be dirty. My colleague Tracy Moore is friends with a mom who lets the kids motorboat her — because they think it’s hilarious. One of my social groups in college was of a similar view; whenever we got wasted, we started motorboating each other. Contrary to the common depictions of motorboating, a substantial endowment wasn’t required — I’m sure people mashed their face in my chest hair, too. I’m not saying these party antics were without any trace of sexual tension, though by and large, it was a platonic activity, amusing in itself, and perhaps brought us closer together. At the end of senior year, we all got customized pewter mugs from a local bar as a prize in their beer-drinking challenge, and our champion motorboater (both giving and receiving) had hers inscribed: “Motorboat This!” Ah, memories.

This is why I refuse to let Tristan Thompson, Hollywood dudebro comedies, or YouTube “prank” shitheads who go around harassing random women at the beach ruin the beautiful and frequently innocent pursuit of motorboating. I hardly need to mention, of course, that consent is crucial to motorboating. A harmless thrill will be anything but if someone feels violated by the contact involved, and no one’s entitled to sputter down the front of anyone else’s shirt. As with all physical interactions, you can’t attempt it without a measure of mutual trust. Don’t assume, either, that this is an anytime, anyplace diversion — the setting is just as important as the emotional dynamic between the motorboater and motorboatee. Steer to the guidelines of common sense, however, and you may find that there are quite a few situations where this sign of affection is both appropriate and welcome. It’s all smooth sailing from there.