Going through boxes of stuff, trying to cull the crapton of paper I’ve saved over the years. I’ve found some amazing things – receipts from my trip to the UK and Germany by myself in the 1980s, fanzines from the 1990s, and assorted oddball collectibles I somehow acquired and, more bafflingly, kept for years. I came across this photo some time ago, and it brought back a flood of memories:
As body modifications go, I’ve not been too adventurous. I have no tattoos and exactly this one piercing – in my left earlobe. I got the piercing done around 1989-1990 – that’s at the tag end of the period of time when it was popular. Peter and I and our friend Spike went on a road trip to the Twin Cities, and our local friend Simba recommended a place to us for the deed to get done.
My friend Peter and I split the piercing – we both got one ear pierced for the same price as getting both done, which (if I remember correctly) was a bit cheaper than one person getting a single ear pierced, and the staffer at the mall where we got the piercings done went along with it without batting an eye. Peter didn’t have to lobby too hard to convince me; I’d been thinking about getting it done for a while before this. I thought a single pierced ear looked kinda cool, and I’ve never regretted my decision in more than 30 years since.
Taking care of it initially wasn’t too tedious, though I recall thinking differently at the time. I still need to put in my starter post once in a while to stretch out the hole – over time, the human body keeps trying to heal itself. Wearing an earring with a thin wire for months at a time means my piercing hole will start to close up, so I need to stretch it back out again to keep that process from continuing. I need to do this once, maybe twice a year, just to keep things at the status quo. I have that starter post in my earlobe as I write this, which is part of how the subject came up in the first place.
Having friends who also had only one ear piercing came in handy; there was a time when jewelry shops would sell you just one earring, but not all of them did, and that time has mostly passed. Splitting a pair of earrings with someone was a fun, almost bonding-type experience (provided you had similar taste in jewelry), and I recall being given lots of single earrings by friends who had lost the second one of the pair. Most of those weren’t to my taste, but I took them anyway, and need to weed those out as long as I’m trying to cull things.
The reactions I got to my earring weren’t that dramatic. I seem to recall that, during the time I lived in Texas, I had a job that made me take the earring out while I was at work. More recently, I had someone ask me what the earring ‘meant’. I was confused for a moment, then realized he thought was it code for something – being gay, or bi, or something like that. I remember hearing about that once years ago, but it has so seldom come up that I would guess it’s some kind of urban myth. When I asked him what he meant, he mumbled something and walked away, perhaps not certain if he asked the right question.
I remember once in high school, during spirit week, there was a day called “punk day”, and everyone was encouraged to dress up like punk rockers. My school mostly thought of Punk and New Wave as synonymous, but I knew better, and had an idea: I superglued the tip of a safety pin in place, and when it was dry I used wire cutters to remove a section of the shank so I had a clip-on version of a safety pin earring. The reactions from my classmates were priceless – some of them thought I’d actually pierced my ear with a safety pin! Sadly, I don’t think any photos of that moment exist, but it’s still a fun memory.
I’ve enjoyed having an earring, and at conventions I used to take a small box with an interesting assortment to switch out as the weekend progressed. During regular, at-home weeks I rarely wear more than two or three different ones, though once in a while I throw in something different just as a small pick-me-up. We could all use a little pick-me-up now and then, especially in these times.