I went and got a haircut and then, after my most recent doc’s appointment, I went and got my ears pierced.
Initially, I wanted to go to a piercing and tattoo parlor because I wanted to be sure it was done correctly (and expensively, apparently). The closest piercing place to the doctor’s office was just as you’d expect. It was full of tatted dudes who wore black exclusively and had manly piercings–those gauged ear plug things, barbells in their eyebrows, lips, and noses, etc. I felt woefully out of place. They were wonderfully friendly, but they were in the middle of remodeling and couldn’t even find the phone.
Me: “Hey, I just want to get my ears pierced.”
Staff Dude, yelling: “Yeah. Hey, Frank! She needs help.”
Frank was a giant Hispanic man who, as required, was covered in tattoos and piercings. He wore low-riding black jeans and a baggy black T-shirt. He gave me the impression that he owned the place. Even Frank couldn’t find the phone though.
Me: “Hi, I just want to get my ears pierced.”
Me: “Oh. Uh, the lobes, the normal part.”
Frank: “Okay. Well, we could do that. We’d just charge you per ear and then, you know, we’d charge you for the jewelry.”
Me: “Do you have just plain studs?”
Frank: “No….uh…we have a flat-back stud or a curved barbell.”
Me: “I don’t know what you just said. Can I just see it?”
Frank: “Yeah…lemme look in the back. Follow me.”
It was then I realized that these guys didn’t get a lot of white girls just wanting their ears pierced. Frank took me farther into the store; he muscled his way into an office room where someone inside was actively trying to keep him out. He emerged with two options–a curved barbell with a spike on one end (Me-spikes! Ha.) and a red crystal stud. I’m such a novice, he had to show me how one would take off and put on said studs. Frank told me if I trucked over to Claire’s Jewelry or Wal-Mart, I could pick my own studs and come back. Unfortunately for Frank I met Shandreka at Wal-Mart.
I loitered around the Wal-Mart jewelry counter for fifteen minutes before help arrived. Shandreka and Jade came at the same time. Both had pierced ears, so I regarded them as experts.
Shandreka: “How can I help you?”
Me: “Oh, I just need to buy some studs so I can get my ears pierced over there.”
Shandreka: “Oh, I know the guys that work there. I think they use the same gun we do. You need some of these studs.”
Me: “Oh. Really?”
Shandreka: “Yeah, look.” She showed me all the tools necessary for puncturing my ear lobe.
Jade: “Are you sure you know how to do that?!”
Shandreka: “Yeah. I’ve done it a few times. It’s easy! Karen did my ears a few weeks ago.”
Me: “Will it hurt?”
Shandreka, shrugging: “Well, compared to childbirth…”
Me: “I want Shandreka to pierce my ears.”
I didn’t have much time before I had to leave and pick up Boy Q from preschool. I knew if I didn’t do it then, I might not do it. Despite my reservations (mostly that I’d get hepatitis from Wal-Mart), I decided to go for it. Jade got busy with other customers. In the span of 30 seconds, Shandreka had put on gloves, sanitized my ears, and pierced my ears. By the time Jade looked up, she was shocked to see the deed already done. Shandreka handed me the bag of sterilizing solution.
Me: “So…you have a kid?”
Shandreka: “Yeah, about eight months old.”
Me: “Is the Baby Daddy** around?”
Shandreka: “Naw, he’s not in our life at all, but I’m just grateful because we are so blessed. She’s spoiled and we don’t want for nothin’.”
I guess we all have our crosses to bear.
All this is to say that I’m grateful that I have the luxury, as a stay-at-home mom, to rest and recuperate at home (from miscarrying, not from ear piercing!), as needed. I’m grateful I have the time, money, and freedom to get my ears pierced. Despite my grandmother’s weak protestations*** and my own feeble fears, I did it.
*I’ve been asked why quite a few times. I don’t understand the question, because why does anyone get their ears pierced (in adulthood)? Because they want to. Because they want to stick earrings in their ears because they think it’s pretty. I’m not sure there’s really any other answer, which is why the question annoys me. Oh, I tried clip-on earrings and they actually started to draw blood!
**Someone let me know recently that some were offended/distracted by my use of this term. It’s important, as a reader, to know that I didn’t mean any offense nor was I implying anything negative by it. To me it is an explanatory term–‘the father/mother of your children‘. In my marriage, my husband and I actually use it as a term of endearment. In our old cell phones, I was ‘Baby Mamma‘ in his contact list and he was ‘Baby Daddy‘ in mine. He called me Baby Mamma often when I was pregnant. Another important aspect of my use of this term is the context–Shandreka and I developed a repertoire and a friendship. I chose to only transcribe a part of our conversation, but my inquiry opened up a real, honest conversation that actually was much more in depth than what I chose to share. It might be easy to imagine that Shandreka was offended by my question, but in reality she and Jade asked the same of me and we shared our lives over the jewelry counter at Wal-Mart. They may not ever know it, but on a day when I needed some female comraderie and strength (because, come on, Shandreka is a strong woman!), they were there for me. To Shandreka, it was probably just another ear piercing, but to me it was about much more.
“Grandma, I want to get my ears pierced.”
“Oh, okay. It’s really the nose piercing I hate.”
“I got my nose pierced because Husband Q really likes it.”
“He does?! Hm.”
“Well, I think it’s nasty. Anywhere besides the ears is really nasty. And tattoos are vulgar.”
“You know I have a tattoo right?”
“And my dad has a tattoo?”
“My father has a tattoo. On his shoulder.”
“What is the world coming to!?”
“So I might get my ears pierced…Mom said you got yours pierced as an adult?”
“Oh, yes, when I was about 50.”
If Grandma could do it, I figure I sure as hell could.