It’s my birthday and, in addition to keeping a promise to myself to finally launch this blog after the requisite amount of procrastination , I decided to treat myself (#selfcare) to a pair of earrings at Maria Tash (“the American authority on body piercing”) that I’d been eyeing for a while. I say pair, but actually it’s two white gold handcuffs attached by a very fine chain, meant to be worn as two hoops in one earlobe with the chain draping under the earlobe in between the cuffs. Although now that I think about it, that’s just me imposing my preconceived notions as to the correct usage of an item of jewelry. I mean, what’s to stop me from having the handcuffs placed in either nostril with the chain dangling under the nose, like a sexy bull? Or in an eyebrow, with the chain ever so gently dusting the eyelid? Same idea but in the lower lip? Across a bellybutton? Other places that don’t get much sunshine? It’s a free country, go for it. But, no, I’m sticking with the more common placement of two in one earlobe.
So a few days before my actual birthday, I go to Liberty of London and saunter up to a Brazilian man named Renato and let him know that I’d like the handcuffs, please (Renato works for Maria Tash, by the way, he’s not some random guy I walked up to in Liberty. That would be weird, even for me). I explain to Renato that I’d like to have the two small earrings that are currently in my left ear removed and replace them with the handcuffs. I’d then like to use those same little studs used to pierce two new holes in my right ear where there is already a rather fetching, sparkly arrow in my lobe. We chat for a bit as he removes the two earrings and he asks if I know where on my right ear I want my new piercings. I hadn’t really considered any other options than having them positioned next to each other on one lobe. Wasn’t that exciting enough?
“What about your tragus?”, asks a very beautiful and very pierced woman with orange and yellow hair who appears from behind Renato. Now’s the part where I pretend to know which part of the ear the “tragus” is. (Note: if it was such a well known word, why would spell check keep trying to change it to “triage”?? Riddle me that. ) There is a whole bank of words that describe the parts of the ear that can be pierced and I knew none of them other than “lobe” which is maybe why I wanted all of my piercings there. Now I know ALL of the ear words and I’m sure that information will come in handy. Like during a heated game of Jeopardy! or Trivial Pursuit.
So, after learning that the tragus is the little nub of cartilage that points inward toward my ear hole (“ear hole” is the layman’s term for conch and forward helix ) I say, “Sure let’s go for it. It’s my birthday after all!” and everyone cheers. Those Maria Tash people are super happy.
When friends and family see my new ear decor and inevitably ask “Did it hurt??”, I’ll have to decide whether to answer with “Not as much as a double mastectomy and reconstruction by dragging my stomach fat and muscle up to my chest!” or, more mercifully, “Nah, not really”. Both answers are true, but one would elicit a more entertaining response. Twenty minutes later I’m walking out of the piercing booth, after-care instructions in hand, pleased with myself but wishing I could forget the crunching sound that the needle made when it went through my cartilage. It was a brutal, primitive and unfamiliar crunch. But at least it didn’t hurt. Much.
The euphoria that floated me home quickly gave way to irritation and resignation as the kids came home from school, one after the next, and a shouting match ensued. What were they shouting about? Who knows, probably someone called someone else a something. But they were in the kitchen and I was in the kitchen- because much of what I do with my day takes place in the kitchen- and the noise level was escalating up towards an unbearable level. Instinctively, my hands flew up to my ears, forefingers extended and ready to plug up those ear hols of mine when suddenly a piercing pain (ha ha , get it?) sent my right hand flying back toward my side as I screamed like a wild animal.
Too late, I realized that it would be months (the average healing period for a tragus piercing is close to a year) before I could use earplugs to sleep at night, wear earbuds to listen to music or, crucially, stick my fingers in my ears to block out the noise that only my kids seem to produce. You know that old saying, “A moment on the tragus, a lifetime on the……”. Or am I mixing that up with something else?
So, do I look cool? Yes, yes I do. But at what cost? We shall soon find out