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Remembering my first piercing... nearly 20 years later

I grew up a military brat... US Air Force to be exact. In 1982 dad got orders to be stationed in Misawa Japan. We were living in Florida the time. The florida stint was the first I could recall knowing so many civilian kids. They weren't nice. They made fun of us for moving to Japan. I'm sure you can muster up some negative stereotypes of Japanese (and oddly, Chinese) people they threw at us (myself and my brothers). It wa brutal. I'd never recognized such hostility toward "different" people. I would not miss moving away from those people.

By the winter of 1982 I was about half way through 5th grade. A new family moved to the base with a kid in my class. Tim. they were different. Not because they were hispanic and had different music, but because the kids had their ears pierced. I'd never seen a boy with an earring before. A girl I really liked thought it was "dangerous" (in the "dreamy" kinda way). I thought it was cool. I had no reason other than that I thought he was cool, so it was cool. they were breakers and aided in the startup of the breakdancing scene there... which I was quickly fully engulfed into.

The thought of getting my ear pierced never crossed my mind. One friend put a magnet on his ear... um, he looked ridiculous. It was interesting however that I do not recall hearing anyone make negative comments about it. I didn't even think about if it was something I'd have wanted myself. In hind-sight, it would have interfered with my baseball anyway. worse yet, I bet the boy scouts would have had a shit fest over it.

I turned 11 by the end of that school year.

Fast forward to the end of December of 1984 and were were moving again, this time being stationed at W.A.F.B. Michigan.

As soon as we moved there, we made a couple friend that happened to already be pretty popular... and breakers. We pretty quickly fit in with that respect, though I did have a lot of metalheads I had to "deal" with in middle school.

All that said to speak to the fact that we did fit in.

After settling in and getting grounded with a network of friends and school and stuff, we felt pretty good. It was pretty neat moving to a place where the school was about half Air Force brats and half civilians. A highly diverse school system, if I recall correctly.

Move forward to Thanksgiving vacation in 1985. My mom's family is from Texas. We drove to Texas (yes, from Michigan) to spend the holiday with her family.

I cannot recall exactly what it was that sparked it. Perhaps we saw it on TV or someone had commented on some musician or someone else... a man with an earring. I really don't remember. I do know that I had thought about it over the last 9 months, just a little bit, about what it would be like to have an earring. I actually didn't know. It was just jewelry. To be honest, I hadn't heard anything negative toward guys with their ear pierced (singular... I've never even heard of both ears being done on a dude).

In any event, my aunt own(ed) a beauty salon in town, actually just down the road, I believe. She and/or my cousin (who had to be maybe 16 or so) mentioned that they do piercings there. I asked about how much it hurts and probably a few other things. My mom was in the room. I don't know what she was thinking, but I don't think she cared much. She might have thought it was just a passing conversation, but I know that within a short period of time we had my cousin agreeing to pierce me, and for good measure, my middle brother (1.5 years younger than me) wanted to some as well and get his ear done.

So she drove us to the shoppe.

I got there and she sat me down on one of the chairs and got the equipment. I didn't know what to expect. She showed me the gun and explained what would happen. The piercing stuff was sitting in a small pool of alcohol. I don't remember if she put gloves on... not likely. I sat still. I also don't remember if she marked the lobe before doing it, but in any event, when she finished, I loved it. To this day I think it's placed very well... better than the hacks at other places I went (gun jobs).

My brother followed.

We went back to the house.

It's weird. Dad wasn't around the place when we talked about it and I don't recall when he found out for sure, but he wasn't mad. He was NOT happy, but he wasn't mad. Eventually we went back home to MI.

Within a month or so, my dad started to be a little more upset about it. It had little to nothing to do with him, but more to do with the airmen buddies he had who were making comments about his "girl" sons and I'm sure some homosexual connotations. It upset my dad, I guess someday I should ask him about that.

It would be another 8 years (give or two 1 or 2) before I got in the seat again... getting one in my right ear and a second in my left. The stigma had worn off and I had become much more mature and comfortable with my hetero(sexuality) so getting the right ear done was pretty much a nothing move.

My how times have changed. In a good way. something as stupid as "an earring in your right ear means you're gay" or for that matter, my first year and a half of high school (after moving to Vermont), only one other person my age had an earring, so to many, I was a target. I just never cared, except for the few times when it felt like it could turn into a physical altercation.

Now I see married men in their 60's+ in normal dress with one or both ears pierced. Ed Bradley is pierced. It's become just another choice of "fashion".

Unfortunately, for a conformist-non-conformist like myself, I often wonder about ways to be distinctive, beyond dressing different than my peers and the 8 (wo)man-made holes now in my ears, yet still be capable of narrowly fitting in where I need to, such as work and with friends and eventually when I'm a teacher.

I'm happy that twenty years ago this coming thanksgiving I kicked off my visual statements of being myself, for myself.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 26 Aug. 2005
in Culture

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Artist: My+cousin
Studio: My+Aunt%27s+beauty+salon
Location: %28was%29+Mason%2C+Texas

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