I am not one for body art or piercings. I've seen some fabulous body art over the years, but it's just not for me. And although I do have one hole in each earlobe, nobody's touching my tongue, my nose, my navel, or even my outer conch cartilage with a needle. I'm far too squeamish!
Back in the 60's ear piercing was only just coming into vogue with the teen set in Iowa. And unless your were from some exotic country, the only thing you pierced was your ears. There weren't earring stands in the Mall where you could easily get your ears done. Hell, there wasn't even a Mall! So that left either going to a doctor to have it done (if you could find one who would do it) or stabbing yourself in the ear.
My older sister used some "auto piercers" so she could attach colorful appendages to her lobes. Basically, they were sharp metal rings that would gradually squeeze their way through the ears. Too painful for too long! My parents thought she was nuts and I agreed.
But when I was in the ninth grade, I decided it would up my "cool" factor to have pierced ears. The thought of a needle working its way through my tender ear flesh creeped me out, but the longing to be "cool" was a strong one. For some reason, I figured my parents wouldn't let me have my ears pierced, though, so I took matters into my own hands. Or rather, my friend Nancy Pilmer took matters into her hands. I thought Nancy was cool because not only did she have pierced ears... she'd been to California! Groovy! Nancy convinced me that with a cork from a bottle of wine, a sewing needle, some matches to sterilize the needle, and some string, she could bring me into the 60's before the 70's rolled around. All we needed was a place to do it.
Where to go, where to go? We needed somewhere with water so we could keep things "sterile". Our houses weren't viable surgical sites because someone might catch us in the act. Doing it at school was also "unsafe". Besides, we didn't have that much time between classes and lighting matches in the bathroom might give the wrong idea.
So, we ended up in the bathroom of our neighborhood grocery store. Yep... the pristine public bathroom. All we had to do was grab a chunk of ice from the freezer section to numb my ears and we were in business. After a half hour of hemming and hawing on my part, I offered up my lobes to Nancy. Within a few minutes the deed was done. I was now cool. I had ears with string in them!
By the end of the week, my ears were so inflamed with infection that my science teacher noticed and insisted I go to the school nurse. She, in turn, called my parents. With my long hair, they still hadn't noticed the oozing holes in my ears. After they told me what an idiot I was, they got me a pair of earrings and made me clean my ears with hydrogen peroxide every day until the infection cleared up.
After a few more weeks my ears became infected again... this time because of the cheap earrings. It turns out I'm allergic to most metals and can only use sterling silver or gold earrings. Plus the holes in my ears are off center and one's kind of droopy. But I succeeded in my quest for coolness! So what if I nearly died from blood poisoning? Details, details....
Let's just say I wasn't the sharpest needle in the pin cushion back then.