NOT NOW!

Not now, you’re too young,” my mom insists when I’m 10.

Not now, you’re still too young, “my mom asserts when I’m 12.

Not now.  Wait until you’re an adult. By then you won’t want them,” my mom concludes when I’m 16.

But now, I’m 18, a sophomore in college, and my mom lives thousands of miles away.

I’ve wanted this for so long. My girlfriends tell me to go for it. “You’re a grown up now; there’s nothing to be afraid of,” claims my roommate Pam.

Yes, my roommate and I have the same name, and she matches me in so many other ways: she wears her brown hair long; she thinks she’s in love with her boyfriend; she’s tall and nice-looking; she’s creative. But she has one thing I don’t.

One thing that I’ve lusted for since I was 10.

earrings, gold hoops, ear piercingPierced ears.

Karen, who lives down the hall, brings over the equipment: one needle, one box of matches to sterilize the needle, one box of tissues (for the blood, Pam and Karen explain kindly), and ice wrapped in a washcloth (for the pain, they say, grinning with no malice).

My heart starts pumping wildly. What am I doing? But I look at Karen’s sweet small gold hearts in her earlobes, then at Pam’s tiny silver hoops that hang like sentries to freedom and sexiness and wisdom.

I walk over to my drawer and pull out the pearl studs I bought weeks ago, waiting for pearl earrings, pierced earsthis moment.

They sit me in a chair after calling out for Natalie and Nancy and Cindi.

All the girls crowd around me, seated like a princess, waiting for the ritual to commence.

earrings, pierced ears

Nancy starts a flame with the match and swirls the needle in the flame.

Karen places the washcloth behind my right ear.

Pam intones something like “This may prick a bit,” and I hear before I feel..

Crunch  C R U N C H.  C R U N C H

“Owwwwwww.”

“Don’t move!” Cindi commands.

The crunch becomes a crackle. The pain intensifies. Blood trickles down my neck. earrings

“Post!” Pam orders like a surgeon.

I feel the small piece of steel being screwed in, and scream, “More ice!”

The cold is a welcoming bite of a different pain.

Already, I feel years older.

And I feel proud,

until Karen proclaims….

“Next ear!”

earrings, earring holders

Every day is a NOW, now…

113 thoughts on “NOT NOW!

  1. I winced reading that. What a fun way to get them done, though. For me, it was in a pharmacy and the woman basically leant across the counter with the gun, shot both my ears and asked for the money. I did it on a whim at 23 in LA the day before I returned home after 10 months away so people would know I was a different person.

  2. My sixteen-year old daughter dragged me across a shopping mall to a little stand, saying, “Now, Mom, this won’t kill you!”
    They shot gold studs into my ear lobs and I was happy after it was over. You brought back a happy memory.:-)

    • Who would have thought that having a ‘staple gun’ shoot a sharp thin piece of steel into our ears would be remembered as a ‘happy memory’? And yet, for so many of us, getting our ears pierced (in the various ways, at our various ages) invariably does become a lasting memory. My daughter vividly remembers when I took her for her ear piercing when she was 10 (reluctantly on my part, but she insisted). I have no recollection of this, but fortunately, she does (in a happy way). 🙂

  3. I had mine pierced the same way! Ouch as I remember it! And I was older, like 30. Lots of infections over the years and I finally let them close. Last summer I decided to open them up again so I went to a jewelry store and had it done! Darn if they didn’t hurt all the time! I have given up now! Clip-ons will have to do! LOL great post!

    • I guess some ears are meant to always be closed. Ha Ha. Ear lobes, that is. I do remember how careful we all were, after getting stabbed with sewing needles in our lobes, to carefully blot the holes with cotton balls soaked with rubbing alcohol for weeks. Fortunately, mine never got infected but for those who did, it was a painful recovery. ;-0

  4. Believe it or not, I still don’t have pierced ears! Sometimes I miss them but my life is fine with a few pairs of clip on which my grandies love wearing, Pam (even Micah as a “pirate”. . .!)

    • I actually remember playing with my mom’s clip on earrings when I was young – so much fun! After my mom saw my pieced ears when I returned home from college for a holiday, she….can you guess? Yup, ran out and had her ears pierced. 🙂

  5. Oh Pam, this made me laugh so much as I had a very similar experience. The only thing was I was heading for my 50th birthday and went off to get my ears pierced after years of being scared to do so. First one was a breeze and I was kicking myself for not having had them done when I was a kid. Then staple gun thingy was shot into the second ear and there was a long delay when we remained attached and the piercer went from chatty to deathly silent. How she extricated the gadget is beyond me. For what seemed like an age, I thought I was going to have the oddest looking ear ring permanently in my right ear. All’s well that ends well, though. I can laugh about it now and am an ear ring addict, like you, it seems!

    • Oh my gosh – your story is filled with horror, suspense, mystery, and in the end, romance. Horror at the staple gun mishap, suspense over would it ever get unattached, a mystery to WHY it happened, and a romance with earrings, after all of that.
      Glad you’re laughing about the incident now. And yes, it’s all worth it with the joy we get from our different earrings, isn’t it? Each day, I get to choose depending on my mood, the color of my outfit, the state of my hair, and just plain ‘intuition,’ which would be the best pair for me for that particular day. ❤

  6. In every story you write, there’s a line that draws me in because it summarizes the characters so well. In this one it was “she thinks she’s in love with her boyfriend”.

  7. Hah! The real reason that so many people have only one ear pierced 🙂 I am self-admittedly a wimp when it comes to pain, especially of the self-inflicted variety 😉 But, it also reminds me that there are many different kinds of pain, both physical and mental. And it tells a lot about ourselves when we knowingly elevate the threshold of pain that we are willing to endure in order to pursue and achieve something we desperately want. Brilliant, Pam – maybe not as brilliant as the pearl studs in your ear, but I think you get my drift 🙂

    • You always find a way to express my blog posts in a delightful metaphoric way. And to make me think, Dave. And you’re so right (again!). If we want something badly enough, or believe in something enough, we’re willing to endure pain to achieve it. Whether pierced ears or love, a leaner body or a published book, the pain in ‘getting’ there is very much worth it.

  8. Ouch!! You’re so brave (and slightly mad!) – what a way to have your ears pierced. My friends managed to drag me into a shop to have them done but as the lady was taking a long time sorting things out I took it as a sign and scarpered! Still, wish I’d been braver. I LOVE your earring display – a visual feast!

    • I think it’s easier to be brave (and slightly mad) at 18, than it is at, say, over the age of 30. And definitely, at the risk of pain from a flu shot or a piercing of the ear, better to not think long before the deed is done, or one will walk away. Who knows? Maybe you’ll go for it again…?

  9. Ha ha! Fantastic post, Pam!!! I love having pierced ears and I love earrings. I was pierced at a mall kiosk back in the day… I remember it did hurt! I got a second piercing on one side when I was in college, but that’s as far as I’ll go… just not into facial or body piercing… or tats either. 🙂

    • I think that’s why my parents were so against me having my ears pierced. They liked me ‘whole’ without any undo ‘holes’ or unnatural changes on my body. I get that now. My 8 year old granddaughter wants her ears pierced and I HATE the idea of it. She’s too young with a natural beauty that shouldn’t be changed/enhanced. But then I wonder if I’m turning into my mother. :-0 Ha ha.

  10. This was great, Pam. I recently reminded my mom’s cousin that she pierced my ears. She and my mom had a store, and she thought they could piece ears and sell earrings. I was the first victim, or person. I’ve never had any problems, and it was free. 🙂 I took our daughters to a store in the mall, but I don’t remember how old they were. Then when one daughter was getting ready for a dance and in tears because she couldn’t get an earring in, I re-pierced by just pushing it through. 🙂

  11. I remember the transition from clip-ons to pierced — as an adult and professionally, so I don’t remember blood or too much pain.

    The best thing about your posts is the suspense and graphic details – always look forward to the treat here. 🙂

    • Welll, I have been told I can get a bit ‘dramatic’ in my stories, but believe me, I don’t make up the drama…. I just live it, and then write about it! 🙂 THANK YOU for enjoying my detailed suspense. 🙂

  12. I am one of the few who do not have pierced ears. My mother and my daughter had their´s done at a jewellery store together and begged me to come along. I said, “If God wanted me to have holes in my ears, he would have provided them.” It was just not something I ever wanted. You have no idea how many pairs of earrings I have been given that I can´t wear. No one believes I don´t have pierced ears!
    I love your story, it is perfect!!

    • I’m smiling at your proclamation, ‘if God wanted holes in our ears, he’d have provided them.’ Good for you, for standing your ground. I must admit, when I have to go on a cross-country trip, my first inclination is to say “If God wanted us to fly in the air, she’d have given us wings.” But, I still go into that large metal bucket-in-the-sky, close my eyes, and pretend I’m some place else. 🙂

    • Not sure I’d have chosen to have my ears pierced if I was older, Bruce. But I must admit, I’ve found earrings a wonderful way to express my personality. (Today, I’m wearing the sweet gold and jade earrings my mom-in-law gave me a zillion years ago. You could say I’m feeling sweetly nostalgic, and you’d be right.)

  13. I had mine done at about the same age but at a doctor’s office. I don’t remember pain. My mother was in her 50s and I took her to a kiosk at the mall. We had to wait until a small 7 year old had her ears pierced. The girl was wonderful. She didn’t yell or cry. She was so excited about her new earrings. My mother sat down. I could see by her face that she was anxious. Afterward I asked how it went. She said it hurt like hell but she couldn’t yell out after that little kid smiled through it all. Perhaps it all depends on whether nerves get hit. I have two sets now although I rarely use the second set.

    • Wincing is a great word – YES, I winced and whined a bit during the entire procedure. But at 18, pain is more muted than at, say, an older age. :-0 I’m glad my descriptive memory gave you a wince, particularly since you had no one around you with a needle. 🙂

  14. My mother also would not allow me to pierce my ears until I was an adult. I had mine done in a little jewelry boutique with the gadget that shoots the stud right into the ear lobe. Couldn’t wait until the holes healed so I could start wearing the danglies I had desired for so many years. The first time my mother saw me with dangling earrings she said they were pretty. Yay!! Nothing like a mother’s compliments. 🙂

    Then I started seeing a few newborn girls with pierced ears and didn’t think that was such a good idea. When I had a daughter I decided that I would allow her to get her ears pierced if and when she asked me if she could. Can’t remember how old she was when it happened but it must have been in those “tween” years. As soon as she became an adult she started piercing everything – nose, tongue and belly button. The tongue one bothered me the most – it still makes me shudder when I spot it, which hasn’t been in quite a while. (Maybe she let it close up…)

    • That’s the thing, Barbara. If we give them an inch, will they take a mile? Not sure my mom was worried that I’d get more body parts pierced than my ears, but it’s the thought of doing something ‘wild and crazy,’ I think, that worries parents. My 8-year-old granddaughter wants her ears pierced and I’m totally against it (but of course I keep my mouth shut, just as you did with your adult daughter). Dang, biting the tongue to stay quiet is probably more painful than having it pierced. :-0

  15. I remember how LOUD is was when the punch when through my ears. Afterwards I stood up and the jeweller (who did the procedure in his shop) said, “Maybe you should sit down for a minute.” I hadn’t realized that all the blood had drained from my face (not through my ears, haha). But I survived. Your post brought it all back. I was right there with you.

      • ” don’t get out enough,” my friends tell me…. Hmm…. But seriously, I don’t, and so I don’t wear earrings often enough anymore. Used to always wear something unique and interesting for school, but since I’ve retired, not so much, and the ears try to grow back. Each time I put earrings in now, I get a sore ear and it’s a relief to take the ring out. You have to wear them all the time for it to work out.

  16. Yay! I assume you got the 2nd one done, despite the pain.

    I don’t remember any pain . . . but there was blood. We left the jewelry store to get lunch and realized that blood was streaming down the side of my neck. We went back to the jewelry store and she cleaned me up. Quickly. Before I could scare any customers away.

    That night, one of the earrings came out in the downstairs shower (off the dark room). NO MIRROR to put it back in and I thought it would close up if I waited until I toweled off and got dressed and went upstairs. So with shaking hands, I maneuvered the post into a tender ear and . . . more blood.

  17. I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was in the 8th grade. I now have 3 holes in one ear and 4 in the other, but I only wear 1 pair at a time..LOL! The other piercings were impetuous acts of rebellion. My mother told me not to, so I did it anyway. Well, not the 4th hole. I did that when I turned 40. I love the way an earring looks there, but it hurts to wear it. Oh well…. Isn’t it amazing what we do to make ourselves feel older..when we are young and then do things when we ARE older to make us feel young again… *sigh*

    • A wise thought, Courtney. I even still remember how much I couldn’t wait for my legs to grow so that I could sit in the car and my feet would touch the floor. Those were the days when kids were allowed to sit in the front passenger seat.
      Yes, having pierced ears made me feel more mature.
      Now, I wear wild and long earrings – to feel young. Ahhh, how fast ‘life’ turns us around. 🙂

  18. This post really does bring back memories! I remember the crunching noise very well – and I was only 8 years old. My mom pierced mine with a needle … but I remember she used the ice cube to freeze my lobe before putting the needle in. The freezing was uncomfortable, but not exactly painful. I felt nothing with the needle, but definitely remember the crunchy sound.

    I’ve been wearing earrings ever since.

  19. Great story! I pierced my own ears when I was a freshman in college. That was after our family doctor called and said, ” You are going to do what?” I guess my mom had told him. After he rattled off a list of instructions he expected me to follow, he said “Good luck.” A few years later I did my youngest sister’s ears. She almost got sick. Then I did a friend’s who wanted it done for her wedding, she almost passed out. That was the end of my ear piercing.

  20. What a fun post. I think I may have enjoyed your ears getting pierced a great deal more than you did. In my own case, getting my ears pierced wasn’t too bad, but my nose, eyebrow, lower lip and belly button all hurt like blazes.

    I’m joking, of course! In fact, even my wife doesn’t have pierced ears. I think my mother may be the only person in my family who does. 🙂

    • You did get me for a second. I tried to imagine the creative fun-writer Bun Karyudo with the lip and belly button ring. Nope, no way. I must admit, I’m always surprised when I see a man with pierced ears – why go through that if you really don’t ‘have’ to? 🙂

      • Good point. I can honestly say I’ve never been remotely tempted to get a pierced ear. The rugged pirate look might suit Johnny Depp or somebody like that, but an earring would just look hilariously out of place on me. 🙂

    • One thing I’ve never been accused of is boring. Wellll, that’s not true. When my son was 20, he thought my guy and I were pretty darn boring. Good news is he’s changed his opinion now that he’s an ‘older man’ at 33. 🙂

  21. Oh the pain, the pain! Did girls really do that? I think I was over 40 when I got my ears pierced. My husband gave me a pair of earrings so I had no choice. I am pleased though. I’d love that collection of earrings in your photos, though I must admit that I have more than I ever wear.
    I love your banner of sunflowers. It’s stunning and makes me feel happy when I pop over and see it. Thank you.

    • Thanks for noticing my sunflower banner, Norah. My daughter and I found a sunflower field about an hour outside of Boston – simply spectacular. I didn’t have to be a good photographer – I just stood in the field and shot – and look what came out! I’m holding on to the sunny happiness of sunflowers as long as I can as Fall approaches….

  22. Ohhh I remember getting my ears pierced and how it hurt more than I thought it would – the part about “crunch” had me cringing a little bit… but it’s worth it for the cute earrings we get to wear 🙂 Great read!

    • I don’t think the easy ‘jeweler’s earring staple gun’ was around when my friends pierced my ears in college. Definitely a better way to go (at the jewelers). I’m like you – love my earrings! 🙂

  23. Brings back memories. I was an adult when I had mine done. Have just about given up on wearing earrings now although I dearly loved them when I had a nice long neck and could wear the ones I loved. Now I wear small ones just for a tad of color sometimes. Great post.

    • Earrings DO provide a ‘tad of color’ that brightens our face, I think. I’m being a ‘rebel,’ and even though I’m no spring chicken anymore, go wild and wear some long dangly things sometimes. Gives me a sense of freedom, in a weird sense. :-0

  24. Pam, you have a knack for tapping into the elements of people’s lives in such a poignant and personal way. This piece is so well written!

    Like all your comments, I, too, am reminded of when (and why) I had my ears pierced. My boyfriend of 6 years—the guy I thought I would marry and to whom I gave my virginity—up and left me for some other young woman who was the antithesis of me. I was taller than average, blonde and blue-eyed; she was short and Hispanic. I cut my long blonde hair and decided to pierce my ears. I just wanted to look different. The emotional pain is all I remember! 😉

    • Lorna, my heart twisted when I read your ear-piercing tale. And truth be told, yes, most of us women do have a ‘I remember’ moment when we go back to the time we had our ears pierced. Your time was metaphorical though – your heart was as pierced as your ears. Damn. But I hope the little bit of revolt helped, and the emotional pain lessened as you showed your personality with the earrings you wore.

  25. Ha ha ha. A rite of passage! I had my daughter’s ears pierced at the mall when she was four. Oh my. Should have waited. They did one and she screamed. The whole place turned around and stared at me like I was the wicked witch. Then I had to tell them to do the other side! Ha ha. Funny story, Pam.

  26. Aaahhh, my eyes are watering!!! 😯 You were brave! I remember friends talking about doing that or having done their own piercings – no, I never had the bravery or the trust in my mad teen friends. Plus I’m sure my parents would have gone crazy!!

    I like the way you ended your story, it really made me feel the pain…phew!! Have you still got those piercings?

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