HOLES for SALE
I wonder about all the holes kids are poking through their heads in the name of fashion. Is body piercing a passing trend or are we just warming up for bigger ornaments, like Harley chrome fenders? For years this fashionable affliction has separated impetuous teens and twenty-somethings from us mature, responsible Boomers who all blew our brains out on drugs. So I was surprised when my mature, responsible friend Emily decided to pierce her nose—and suggested I do it too. I agreed to go along for support, but I wasn’t about to let a tattooed stranger force a spike through my left nostril.
At the piercing parlor in Iowa City, the receptionist greets us with open tattooed arms and enough facial hardware to trigger a four-guard airport security alarm. Behind her, a sign states, “You must be 18: No I.D., No Hole.” The menu below reads like the screenplay for Scream III: For $40 you can pierce your eyebrow, ear, lip, nose, or navel; a tongue stud will run you 50 bucks. For $35 you can stab your nipple—and at that price who wouldn’t be tempted? And for $60 you can pierce lower-body parts that some of us won’t even admit to having.
In the next room, a very young man forces a needle through the belly button of a teenage girl—a member of the same species that faints when the school nurse takes their blood pressure. I grill the receptionist about this boy’s credentials and what grade he’s in. Slurping her words across her tongue stud, she explains that Lance is 18, was trained by Otto (the former body piercer), and has done 10,000 piercings (not on the same person). And as far as the State of Iowa is concerned (not at all), Lance is as qualified as anybody.
Emily waits her turn to be victimized. After the girl with the navel comes a girl with an eyebrow; then a boy takes a stud in the chin. Now it’s Emily’s turn and she expects me… to join her? I’ve already exceeded my daily requirement of terror. But curiosity lures me into the O.R. past the instructional literature, “The Joy of Piercing” and “Life after Pierthing your Tongue.”
“This won’t hurt,” Lance assures Emily, marking her nose with a black dot. I believe him; he won’t feel a thing. I stand safely in the doorway as Lance aims a needle toward Emily’s nose. I feel the sudden urge to faint or hurl but I can’t decide which is appropriate. So instead I contemplate my own un-pierced navel.
Our generation did not pierce our tongues or tonsils. We were too busy changing the world. We were the Boomers: the loud, the arrogant, the bold. We protested war. We sanctioned free love. We gave new meaning to the word “Wow.” We broke taboos to give future generations the freedom to be just like us. But no. These progeny wanted PlayStations and skateboards. Orange hair. And body mutilation. They wanted to be different, which really hurt, considering we were the coolest generation ever. Maybe all these years of changing the system from within have made us too responsible to be wild any more. But that didn’t stop Emily; she’s got a nose stud… I wonder how I’d look in a Woodstock tattoo?
Copyright 2005 Patricia Draznin