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.