Thursday, December 2, 2010

Flashback to Ear Hell

A month before my 9th birthday I finally convinced my folks to let me get my ears pieced. I was totally and completely excited at the prospect. I dreamed of my ears adorned with sparkly little studs, cute hoops and adorable earrings that were lady bug, turtles, frogs and other animals because this was the extreme early 80's when that shit was "like, totally radical, dude." When I got my ears pierced I was gonna be beautiful and cool and look totally just like Jamie Summers, the Bionic Woman, even though I was 9 and had short brown hair and was human and built like a boy and not bionic. But otherwise, I would be totally just glamorous, and look just like her.

So finally, one Saturday afternoon in August mom and I go to a local jewelry story to have this done. This was in the olden days when people who got their ears pierced had to keep the original studs in the ears for 30 days, for the healing process to be complete. My folks thought if we did a month before, then I could wear new earrings on my birthday- any cute little ones I got as gifts.

We walk into the most beautiful store ever, or at least in my mind is was glamorous. It had soft lighting and a huge chandelier. The rows and rows of glass cases were shiny and gleaming. The carpet was thick and plush and a deep red burgundy and I sank to my knees in the stuff. We were at a classy joint and I was to behave like a "little lady" that my parents raised me to be.

No problem. I was all about being classy and grown up. I whispered and was polite. I might've curtsied at the man in the dashing suit who asked "if he could help us". Mom tells him I wish to have my ears laden and bespeckled with jewels from the most famous South American diamond mines and to break the Hope Diamond into pieces so they could bedeck my ears... or something like that...she conveyed I needed to get my ear's pierced for my birthday.

We were escorted to a cafe style chair with gleaming brass and burgundy cushion. I climbed onto my pedestal, and awaited for the anointing of my ears. First, a woman jewelry store sales person came to aid us in the ear piercing rite of passage and the man in the suit departed. She was beautiful and wearing the finest jewelry money could buy. She wore fancy clothes and perfectly coiffed hair. She wore full makeup, on a Saturday afternoon, no less! She was a goddess.

The Goddess of Ear Piercing swabbed one of my soon to be queenly earlobes with alcohol. She took a felt tipped marker and made a small dot on my ear lobe. My mother approved the future placement of where said earrings would go. Then this creature of beauty showed me a tray of earrings. Hoops and studs. Colors and plain. Ah the choice, the choice! I would have to live with these for a month, a whole month. What to pick? The options seemed limitless. They sparkled. They shined. They were perfection on a velvet covered tray. Finally after much deliberation (and prodding from my mother) I selected the sapphire gold studs. After all I was a September baby and what was more regal that such a brilliant blue stone that would flash in the sun light? Then the saleswoman took out a gun. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. A gun. My Jewelry store Goddess became Rambo and the Terminator all rolled into one. I swear she morphed before my very eyes, becoming dirty and smudged and the sounds of a helicopter hovered in the background as she adjusted her Rambo like beret and belly crawled across the store in her camos. I started shaking and quaking. I was sweating. She grabbed my earring from her bandoleers and snapped the earring of choice into the chamber. She took aim with her weapon and pulled the trigger, never once flinching at my scream of terror.

All hell broke loose at this point. I screamed bloody murder. I thought I was going to die. I thought she drove a railroad spike through my ear. All my ladylike intentions were gone. I cried. I yelled. I might have bitten her arm. And I scrambled off the chair and ran toward the exit of the chamber of horrors, hoping I would be airlifted out of this jungle of Viet Cong. But the evil man in the suit whose name tag I finally noticed read "Head Executioner" and who obviously took pleasure in torturing young children grabbed me as I tried to make my hasty retreat. I begged, begged, begged my mother to make it all stop. I had a huge, big ol' royal hissy fit right there in the store.

Now this was the very, very, early '80's before Billy Idol or Don Johnson and Miami Vice made one earring cool and my mother was NOT going to let her almost 9 year-old daughter go around with one ear pierced. It took my mother and the Executioner to hold me fast to the electric chair while his Ear Piercing Terminator Minion welded the weapon to my other ear and again plunged another stake into my poor, fragile ear lobe. She smiled wickedly at my writhing in pain little body.

I survived my POW camp. My ears were bright flaming red for days and I wore my scars with pride, waiting for my Metal of Honor to arrive. Yet the tale of woe doesn't end here with my freedom from that hell. Oh, no. My ear got infected. Every night my mom (or dad if mom was ready to kill me because of my slight whiningness) cleaned my infected ear and turned the earring. I howled in pain as the puss oozed out of my ear lobe. I couldn't change my earrings on my 9th birthday. I was positive I was going to have my ears fall off so I started learning sign language and finger spelled everything in preparation. I thought for sure I was I was going to be sent to a deaf school like the blind one Mary Ingalls had to go to when she went blind in a freakish Very Special Little House on The Prairie moment. I thought I was going to be the next Helen Keller. Alas, the gangrene didn't take, and my ears remained affixed to my head, even to this very day. By Christmas I was able to change my earrings without grimacing in pain.

I still suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from this experience and the Veteran's hospital cut me off but I still go to support groups at the VEP (Veteran Ear Piercers) Hall to share the personal terror of having my ears pierced in an effort to save others from the same horrific experience. I've developed a 12 step program for others like me. Donations to my not -for- profit are always welcome and for $10 a month we can save a whole African village from being pierced. Please Help.

And that is the totally true tale of how Maggie got her ears pierced. Do I dare share the story of my first tattoo?



Curley said...

You poor little girl to have to go through that just to be in fashion. We did mine the old fashioned way with ice, needle and string. Without my parents permission I might add. I thought they would kill me. Would have served me right if my ears did fall off. Yes, tell us about the tattoo.

Jimmie Earl said...

I did my own (one..left) in college with a safety pin. Came home, Dad about s**t, I let it grow shut. Had it professionally done (at Claire's Boutique, so I use the word "professionally" very loosely) along with your brother when I was 45. Still wear a stud once in a while.

sam said...

Oh.....poor baby. I kept playing with my three earrings while reading this! I waited until I was about 21 to have mine pierced. One the way home I had to pull over to puke. The thought of a HOLE in my year grossed me out.


Anonymous said...

Oh the trauma! Reminds me of when my daughter got her ears pierced. After her first ear the goddess turned Rambo asked if she was ready for the second ear. My daughter replied with all the panache of a tearful ten year old, "No, I don't think so! Are you kidding me!?" After the evil Rambo Goddess had finished we left with shining studs only dim when compared to my daughters smile.