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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mom, Can I Have One of My Toes Removed at the Mall?

Back when Australia was still drifting away from the continent and my dance card was full, i.e., my formative years, having your ears pierced even once was crazy, rebellious stuff.

But within just a couple of years of my having graduated high school, the soft pink ears of girls and boys across the country were being pierced repeatedly, loops and loops of defiance; and every group of kids since then has added to the loopage until now we are running out of places to pierce.

Ears? HA! Forget about ears. What’s it like, being so hopelessly old-fashioned? We’ve now got in public what you used to have to pay a carnie to see: pierced noses, eyebrows, lips, nipples, and belly buttons, not to mention the piercing of parts sure to ruin your good undies.

My son asked, in 10th grade, if he could get his ears pierced.

“No,” I said.

I’ve found that children enjoy quick, decisive answers.

“How about a tattoo then? Can I get a tattoo?”

“No,” I said.

“Come on! Why not? It’ll say “Mom”, I promise!”

Awwww. What a good boy. His freshly-pubescent forearm will be permanently marked “Mother”.

“Dylan, when you are 18, you are free to do as you like, although I’ll ask that you wait until you’re out of college. Once you’re out of college, go crazy.”

“Mom, everyone has one!”

“Yeah, everyone and their grandma. Maybe by the time you’re out of school the cool thing will be to have never had a tattoo, to be a clean slate. Besides, what do you have to commemorate with permanent ink? You have great skin. Why mess it up?”

“How about a Mohawk? Can I get a blue Mohawk?”

“Sure. Knock yourself out. If you don’t like it, you can always shave your head.”

He didn’t, of course, get that blue Mohawk, although everyone on the lacrosse team that year dyed their hair platinum blonde.

What the heck. Hair grows.

There are an awful lot of ways to be different/be like everyone else these days. Never mind the tattoos and the piercings. There are studs as well, little knobs at the temples, sharp things sticking out of lowers lips, large Ubangi-style corks in tautly stretched earlobes, contact lenses made to look like cats or goats eyes…

So what’s next?

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and make a prediction.

This prediction is valid in the U.S. only and is not to be used for the purposes of gambling.

In keeping with how we generally behave, the U.S. will go in two wildly disparate directions: 1. the trend will swing to the point where super-conservative dress will become fashionable. No piercings, tattoos. Even jewelry will be eschewed so as to make it easier for one generation to truly differentiate itself from the previous; or 2. – and this is my personal favorite – we will embrace selective amputation. People eager to express themselves will have the first knuckle/nail of select fingers removed, opening up whole new areas of exploration in the insults-via-hand-gestures realm.

Missing a knuckle or two will eventually become, of course, the tribal-tattooed bicep/rose-on-the-breast tattoo of that generation; and the next generation’s rebels will be forced to move on to having their nostrils flared or their skulls replaced with glass, maybe something that lights up when there’s a thought…

Hey. Now there's a thought.

52 comments:

Hilary said...

My younger son has never discussed tattoos. When he was in elementary school he wanted to dye his hair green. I told him he could as long as he brought home decent marks. He got the good marks and opted not to dye it.

Then he wanted an ear pierced. Same deal. Same outcome.

He still doesn't have any modifications at 21 despite a facially pierced and tattooed shouldered/armed girlfriend. I'm keeping my unpierced, untattooed fingers crossed that it stays that way until he's mature enough to live happily with his decisions.

Jon Konrath said...

When I was 17, I didn't even ask - I had a friend pierce my ear for me. This was in 1988, when the only people who had tattoos were felons and sailors (at least in Indiana) and my parents freaked out. I think within three years, I got sick of it, and now the hole is probably healed shut. I am glad I didn't get a tattoo because whatever I would have picked 20 years ago, I would almost certainly be sick of by now.

Pearl said...

Full disclosure, I had the mother of a boyfriend tattoo my ears on a whim when I was 16. She had me pinch my ear lobes until they were "numb", ha ha, and then held a potato behind my ear while she pierced the lobe with a needle she'd held over a lit match. HA HA! It hurt so much that I didn't think I could let her do the second one. But of course I didn't want my boyfriend to think I was a wimp, so I didn't say anything.

Teenagers. Pffffft.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Mom told me that the best way to be "different" was to be myself. To quote her, she said, "Honey, you are already waaaaay different." To this day the only holes in my head are the ones God put there. I'll just leave that one out there....

Joanne said...

I "allowed" my daughters one hole/ear/each. My way cool oldest daughter wanted more. Absolutely not! You'll look like some kind of a person you're not! She brought the extra holes back from a trip to the mall with grandma who signed the consent.

NYEMT said...

When my eldest daughter was born, the nurse actually asked if we wanted her to have her ears pierced right away. I said, "Absolutely not."

My wife said, "Aw - but honey, if she gets it now, she won't remember that it hurt in a few days."

I said, "Exactly. When she gets her ears pierced, it'll be when she's old enough to savor every second of pain and discomfort. That way maybe she'll remember it when she contemplates getting anything ELSE pierced."

She's eleven now, and just got her ears pierced. And boy, did she whine about how much it hurt. Muahahaha!

Bouncin' Barb said...

Hi stranger! My son as a teenager, pierced his own ear and did his own eyebrow. Just thinking about doing that to myself makes my stomach flip. He's let the eyebrow close up now. I think he got rid of his tongue piercing too now. He's got 1 tattoo to commemorate his best friend who was killed. But, at 30 now, he seems to have outgrown this stuff. Thank God! Now his kids are going to be teenagers one day....mwah haha!

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I've always been too needle-shy for either ear piercing or tattoos though my husband keeps threatening to get a tattoo as a rebellion against conservative old age!

My most memorable moment regarding piercing was when a patient of mine who was getting back surgery was telling me how her surgeon told her she would have to remove her navel rings before her pre-operative MRI. She asked him "What about my labia rings?" When she saw me wince involuntarily, she said "Oh, no, they're totally cool!" and dropped her pants to show me. (She was in the porn industry, so this didn't seem like an outrageous act to her.) It was one of those times I sat there thinking "They didn't prepare me for this kind of thing in grad school!" and, at the same time, marveling at yet another once-in-a-lifetime experience courtesy of a patient.

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl! I'm way ahead of you. As a big pirate fan, I had a wooden leg fitted. I kept the foot as it was, but replaced the rest. Avant garde? You know it, baby. Indigo x

The Vegetable Assassin said...

I was never allowed to get my ears pierced as a girl. My mom would always pull out the "When you're sixteen you can do what you want!" line, sixteen being the age of consent in the U of K. So on my 16th birthday I went right out and did it, more because I could than anything else. Then a few weeks later I did it again. On one ear only. To this day I have two holes in my right ear and one in my left and I still wear three earrings when the mood takes me. :) I never did graduate to tattoos and other piercings though and I'm SO GLAD I didn't because these days every damn person has tattoos. It's gotten to be the opposite of unique. Hell, get henna tattoos people, at least that way they disappear eventually or you can change your mind. Plus I can't seem to like the same shoes for more than a week, how the hell am I supposed to choose a tattoo I won't hate in three days?

I don't mind people getting tattoos, each to their own, I just think there are plenty ways to show individuality without permanently marking yourself with something you probably regret in a few years or less. Especially 18 year olds. When I think of the crap I liked at 18 and having that still etched on me NOW? Shudder. The future is full of regret for a lot of people that's all I'm saying...

ellen abbott said...

my teenage daughter wanted to die her hair emerald green when she was in high school. that was back when they still let you come to school with green hair. and I let her do it. One summer, she died it grape soda purple. She also wanted to get her belly button pierced. I said no to that one. When she was 18 I asked her if she was going to get the piercing. Nah, she said, I'm over it. She has however in the intervening years acquired two tattoos. Her first, a hibiscus, I drew for her and even accompanied her to the tat shop. I toy with the idea of getting one myself. but I totally do not get turning one's self into a porcupine.

SparkleFarkle said...

I'm all for selective amputation. Where does the line form? I want to put my husband in it. WAIT. Are we only talking fingers??

R. Jacob said...

I am going to hazard a guess that the light will not brighten to often.

bill lisleman said...

I agree with the V assassin. Moods change, trends change, your skin changes, your relationships change, etc.
selective amputation - unfortunately there are people out there that would pay for it. Now the opposite might be better. So often I could use a third hand or third eye.

fishducky said...

When my oldest son was getting married I told him he (& all bridegrooms) should get his ears pierced--that it was the perfect preparation for marriage. With that single action, the man learns to endure pain AND to buy jewlery! He didn't.

A warning to all you young lovlies who are contemplating having a small rose tattooed on your breast. By the time you're in your 60's, it will probably be long stemmed......

Sandra said...

haha! The piercing of parts sure to ruin good underwear. I like that! I also like that you said kids react well to decisiveness. I'm going to try that. I think I waffle...I'm a waffler...well, maybe I'm not and I just think I am...nope...pretty sure I waffle...

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I love the 'brain window' idea. I wonder if the brain would pulse like in the movies. I could watch that for awhile, on the bus. Then it would freak me out. Like the lizard guy or the guy with his face totally done up like a skull. Sometimes it's too much. There will be a lot of saggy old ladies with bad body art in about 30 years.

Eva Gallant said...

What's scary is you may be right on with the second prediction...selective amputation!

Symdaddy said...

Fashion-wise, it seems that America lags woefully behind Europe! Selective amputation (as you put it) is already here ad thriving!

Many a teenager can be seen hobbling along our streets minus a lower leg, arm or earlobe.

So ... tell us again! Exactly how did you ruin your bestest undies? On what?

Please feel free to include photographic evidence of the damage and the 'beast' that caused it!

Simply Suthern said...

Grandpa had 3 fingers taken off,
My dad is missing one,
I've yet to have that defining moment even tho I've come close several times.

The Elephant's Child said...

A friend of mine is a radio producer. Once, while doing a live interview the person she was interviewind casually dropped into the conversation that he was tired of his scrotum piercings become infected. Her response (which went to air nation wide) was a heartfelt euw.

I have two piercings on one ear, and one on the other and it is going to stay that way. I am however considering a tatoo...

Kristy said...

How about stretch marks? When will those be freaking cool for crying out loud?

jenny_o said...

First reaction: Ew, ew, ew.

Second reaction: Kids being what they are - always pushing the envelope - it's a logical next maiming step.

Maybe after THAT generation, kids will go back to unblemished skin. Well, except for the actual blemishes of adolescence, of course. There's something I could've had amputated and not missed a bit.

Friko said...

Hm, selective amputation? Sounds good; but why stop there? How about doing on a reality TV show? the one who loses the most limbs, wins.

Leenie said...

Wow! This one generated some wordy comments! Looks like you struck a nerve.

I'm with you on the hair thing. If it won't make a difference what you've done in a week or a month or a year--knock yourself out. If it keeps you from getting a decent job--forget it.

P.S. I predicted shaved heads back when everyone was wearing a mullet. Score!

Leenie said...

LOL to SparkleFarkle!

mapstew said...

I've had my testicles pierced.
All three of them!

HELLO SIDESHOW!! :¬)

xxx

Nance said...

I am amazed that neither of my children scarified themselves. Instead, they chose friends who looked like they'd fallen down the basement stairs with a tackle box. They were Vicarious Self-Abusers.

Glass skull domes. Why didn't I think of that?

I won't get a vote, but, if I did, I'd opt for a swing back to the Age of Swing, a 1940's look. My fear is that galloping malignant conservativism, cultural and political, will turn reactionary and twist us into a punitive neo-Victorianism--socially sanctioned repression. That stuff doesn't grow back.

Gigi said...

My son has shown minimal interest in tattoos recently (none in piercings yet, thank goodness). I've pretty much done the same as you. Nope. Not as long as I am paying for him - and that includes college. Otherwise, he'd better be ready to pay his own way. He's been warned. After that, he can do what he wants....as long as I can't see it. ;-)

Stephanie said...

When I was in the 7th grade, my best friend sterilized a sewing needle with vodka, numbed my earlobes with ice cubes, and then ruthlessly pierced them. Come to think of it, how the heck did we get ahold of vodka in the 7th grade! Ah well, it was another time. I'm sure you're right. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg in status self-mutilation.

Jayne Martin said...

Selective amputation would not surprise me one bit, although first I'd like to see politicians extricate their heads from their asses.

;)

vanilla said...

Some of those lights would never come on.

Lazarus said...

Some people subscribe to fancy, high-cost newsletters from Washington, D'effin-C to get predictions about the future, but I just come here. Thanks Pearl, I'm buying stock on those amputation kiosk companies popping up in all the malls, your advice is money!

Lazarus said...

Pearl, I already wrote this comment once but I think Blogger nixed it so at the risk of being redundant, I'll re-post. Anyway, instead of subscribing to some fancy, high-cost Washington, DC-based newsletter, I come here for my future trends. I'm investing in one of those mall kiosk amputation companies, thanks!

Lazarus said...

Ah, OK, now I see, you've switched to the "blog owner approval" method of commenting. So I think you have 2 comments of mine in the pipeline, now a third. Why the change? Were you getting spammed? Didn't you see this coming as a futurist? Please approve me Pearl, you know I crave approval!!!!

Lazarus said...

OK, now I'm getting carried away. Feel free to disregard some or all of those previous comments. My bad. Loved the post though!

Life Unordinary said...

What kind of a tattoo did he want and where? I waited until I was 30 to finally get one!

Joshua said...

My brother and I convinced our mom to let us get an ear pierced. I was in 7th grade. Got my second in the left ear at 14. The rule about tattoos was "as long as your on your own insurance." The day my first own insurance kicked in, I was at the parlor getting inked

Ricardo MiƱana said...

Beautiful lyrics, Christmas is endearing,
These days I wish peace and happiness come to your house.
Happy Holidays!.
a hug.

River said...

I'm with you on the hair thing, whatever you do, it will grow back, so I let my kids do whatever they wanted with their hair. The girls have cut, permed, straightened, dyed etc, both boys have grown, cut, shaved, one had dyed. Tattoos and piercings? Well the girls ears were pierced at 4, in later years when they paid their own way, each got more ear piercings and when it was all the rage, each boy also got an ear pierced, paid for by dad. Three of them now have multiple tattoos.
But if selective amputation becomes all the rage, I hope they're all sensible enough to say "no thanks".
Please God, let them be sensible enough.

Tempo said...

My dad had some of those nasty blue faded tats from WW2 (yeah, I'm OLD) he showed the nasty faded things to me and told me that all tattoos end up looking like that and warned me to never get any...he made me PROMISE I wouldn't. A year later he died... as a formative kid I just had to keep that promise. Clean skin, no piercings, just a hell of a lot of scars... (its been a hard life)

Crystal Pistol said...

I once had a personal trainer who pulled down her pants and pulled up her shirt to show me 3 new piercings. There was no warning. She just STRIPPED!

OH MY EYES!!!

Some things you just can't unsee.

Pat said...

I was in my thirties when I had my ears pierced and I still wonder if I did the right thing.

Dan said...

Yeah I thought iwas so cool many many years ago poking holes in my ears and getting tattoos when yes only dirty punk rockers like me sailors and criminals used to get em...and yer right they are a dime a dozen...
selective amputation is happening already (yeah weird) as is branding and scarification (please, havent we stolen enough from cultures that actually practice it as part of initiation, not as fashion)....
I look forward sometimes to the self beheading craze taking off...but maybe the buttoned down preppie look will be the new different haha :)

the walking man said...

Now around here to enhance the tats and piercings it's three foot long dreadlocks with a partially shaved head. *shrug* whatever keeps them away from stupid land.

Susan in the Boonies said...

I think we've already been through the "conservative" phase. Early 80's. We called it "preppie".

I'm going to have the saggy skin under my chin amputated. Either that, or my cellulite.

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

I came of age in the piercings era, but never really had a desire to pierce anything but my standard one hole in each ear. Because that hurt like hell. Still hurts.
I admit that I think belly button piercings are cool. A few years ago, I was trying to lose enough weight to get this done. But then my husband informed me that my belly was past its prime. Sadly, he was right.

Tom G. said...

Showing your individuality by maiming your body repeatedly to keep up with the latest fashions must be tiring work.

Poor kids.

I think Dan is right. Self-beheading is the logical end to this trend.

Jocelyn said...

Selective amputation--BAHA!

Crochety Jocelyn question here: why no ear piercing for your boy? Would you make your daughter wait until after high school, too, or would you march her to the Piercing Pagoda at the mall and tell her how brave she was when she only flinched a bit?

If it's just that you don't want money spent on putting holes in your kid, send him to Duluth. I've got some ice and a potato and a desire to hear a teenaged boy shriek.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I've posited this theory myself...that once the kids look at how GROSS all the old people look with their stretched out/faded/ill-conceived/wrinkly tats, they'll fall out of fashion. Rebellion always sways against the norm so I too see loafers and neckties becoming "hip."
And like you, I allow anything with hair. It's not permanent.

Diane said...

Yup. Hair is our one renewable resource. I personally dyed my son's hair blue. Almost did my own so we would match. One head shave later, and he was conservative once more. A little rebellion is good for the soul. Very little. And I'm hoping my grandchildren all join that ultra-conservative group you described. That kind of rebellion, I can handle!

Pat Tillett said...

I have no problem with tattoos and piercings. But they are no fad, that's for sure. You can pull up your baggy pants and die your hair, but piercings and ink are FOREVER... I told my kids, but did they listen? Heck no...
I think you just inspired a future blog post for me. Thanks Pearl!