Thursday, February 19, 2009

Has Anyone Seen My Nose Ring?


Mention body piercing and Angela can't shut her eyes fast enough. She's very squimish, just like her mother. After the initial involuntary flinch, all I can think of when the subject comes up is the good guy in a ghoulie movie running the vampire through with a stake to persuade him to stay dead.

Still, we all know these days, you don’t have to be a vampire to get yourself perforated.

In fact, ordinary men and women of all ages (I called them “The Pierced”) are getting more holes drilled in them than in a packet of imported Swiss cheese. It’s a fad I can sum up in two words: “Ouch,” and “Ewwww!”

And we’re not just talking ears here. Though that’s a good place to start. Today, real men--from news anchors to corporate types--wear one if not more studs in their lobs. Those with panache don matching sets of kissing dolphins. And it’s not uncommon to tune in the TV to see a linebacker in shoulder pads and grease paint sporting a pair of gold hoops that would have Shopping Channel phones ringing off their hooks.

But that’s not the half of it. The Pierced distribute the wealth evenly. So you’ll notice studs, rings and chains all over their bodies--in their noses, fingers, chins, nipples, belly buttons and/or other places only their wives and husbands can admire. Experts who study stuff like this (yes, there really are such people) say it’s a way for man to get in touch with his primitive self. Either that or he’s watching too many pirate movies.

Okay, men are from Mars, anyway. What’s women’s excuse? Theorists claim women are spiking themselves silly for various reasons: Some for shock value, or just to be noticed. Some because they want to be different. Some to cover up hurt and confusion.

Personally, I think it’s the jewelry they’re after. Women recognize an opportunity when they see one. They realize the more places you have to wear jewelry, the more jewelry you can expect. To them, piercing equals an increase in resources. It means good-bye tiny velvet box with two pearl studs; hello treasure chest of diamonds, sapphires and rubies.

I, myself, wouldn’t lance anything I didn’t have to for all the bling in Liz Taylor’s safety deposit box. But then every generation has its off-the-wall fads. And in fact, far from being a troublemaker, one of The Pierced has actually turned out my helpmate. See, I used to have trouble resisting dessert at my favorite lunch spot. But now that a waitress there has pierced her brow, all I need do is glance her way, and, zap, my chocolate mousse craving passes.

I have to hand it to The Pierced. Their individuality’s not just idle talk. It comes with pain, danger, and a heap of challenge. For instance, I can’t imagine what it would be like talking with a studded tongue. People already say I sound like I have a mouth full of marbles. Would this make things better or worse? And if I had a conversation with a stranger, would I warn him I’m pierced right off the bat? Or would I risk his suing me after he sees the gold balls in my tongue and faints?

What about eating? If I had ice cream for lunch, would my studs stay freezing until dinner? Likewise, if I had coffee MacDonald’s hot, would the rings in my mouth conduct the heat and scald me? Spinach stuck in my studs would be embarrassing. But maybe in time, eateries would offer stud picks right there next to tooth picks. At the airport, would I have to stand to the side and remove my hardware before I went through security so I wouldn’t trigger the alarms?

When it came to romance, could I deal with getting my tongue tangled, my nose locked, or my body entwined in other, more intimate, places? And on the job, could I deal with the squeamish Unpierced who might complain to the boss and insist on a “non-body pierced environment?”

These are quandaries I’ll never have to face since I prefer my jewelry pinned on me not through me. As for The Pierced, who am I to judge? If they want to puncture their parts, far be it from me to needle them.

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