Tess Tales — The ear piercing

My mom when she was older. You can see her earring.

I walked at the mall this morning. The Piercing Pagoda (kiosk that pierces ears and sells jewelry) has been closed since March. It triggered a long ago memory of my Mom.

I had my ears pieced when I was in my late teens. It was trendy then and everyone was doing it. You had to go to a doctor to get it done unless you trusted your girlfriend with a fat needle and an ice cube. I didn’t.

My doc didn’t pierce ears. I don’t know if he hadn’t invested in the punch equipment or he was opposed to it. Didn’t matter to me. I found another doc to do it. It’s a pinch when it happens but I wouldn’t call it particularly painful. I had more soreness when I bumped it while curling my hair afterward.

My mother never had her ears pierced. After I did my ears, she always admired my earrings. She didn’t like the clips because they hurt. For her birthday I took her to get her ears pierced. She was in her 50s.

We went to a jewelry place at our local mall. It was a Saturday afternoon and it was busy. There was one child around 6 ahead of her. The piercing was done out in the open. You sat in a chair and they used a gun to insert “starter” earrings in. Easy peasy. They used a numbing cream.

The little girl was so excited. It was wonderful to watch. She thought this transformed her into a “big” girl. I remember that feeling. I had it when I got my first baby “high” heel shoes. Oh yes, there was a crinoline petticoat that sent me over the moon too.

Then it was my mom’s turn. I saw her wince. It was a big wince. I had assured her that it didn’t hurt much. More like a pinch. She said it wasn’t a pinch. She was sure they were ripping her ear off. The worst part was she couldn’t yell. After that little girl took it so well my mom thought she’d look like a big baby if she wailed.

She picked out an expensive pair of earrings as her gift and muttered all the way home. After that whenever I asked if something hurt, she’d say, “just a pinch” with a twinkle in her eye.

69 thoughts on “Tess Tales — The ear piercing

  1. I remember pierced ears being in vogue in high school but I resisted and would never have gotten mine done if my sister hadn’t bought me a pair of pierced earrings as a graduation present. Then she dragged me to a jewelry store which did the piercing with starters. It hurt a bit as I recall. I used to wear earrings every day, to match every outfit in the 80’s but haven’t for decades and thought that one hole had closed over. Last summer when I attended a Woodstock party, I wanted to wear dangling hippy earrings to go with my costume and managed to slip a pair through the closed hole without too much pain! Ah the things we do for fashion…..

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    • I loved them and still do. I never had much luck with the clip ons. When I worked women (and men) dressed up so I had a lot of earrings to match outfits. My second pair of holes are rarely used but I can still get an earring through with patience.

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  2. My mother and I decided to get our ears pierced together… I believe I was in my 30s which means she was in her 60s. We sat at the jewelry counter at the May Co and I still remember that pinch. The May Co became Macy’s… now Macy’s is gone along with the mall itself… eaten up by 600,000 sq ft of Google office space. I wonder now if mothers and daughters get tattoos together… ear piercing seems too tame…

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  3. That is a nice memory of your mom Kate. I never let friends pierce my ears either – I went to a similar place in the mall with the “gun-type machine” and “starter earrings” and did it with my mom. We could both hardly wait to get out of the “starter earrings” and into regular earrings.

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  4. Ahh yes, another rite of passage from the late 60’s/early 70’s. My best friend was in nursing school and ‘offered’ to do mine. We…well, mostly she…giggled because I kept whining about the pain-this back in the days of fat needles & ice cubes). The ice cube kept melting and dribbling down my neck and it took us all afternoon long to do one ear. That was enough for me. It was probably another year or so before I eventually did the other one by myself after constantly being shamed for just having one ear pierced. That crunching sound of going through the cartilage or whatever tissue it was was the worst part. With the panDAMNic, I haven’t worn earrings in months. The mask makes it too much trouble. 😑

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    • During this lockdown I have rarely worn them because what’s the point? In “normal times” which we may never see again, I’d wear them once a month or whenever we went out for dinner. I have friends who wear them daily. I think that’s wonderful but I don’t seem to remember or I’m doing something like gardening and don’t want them on.

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  5. Humans are definitely weird. You don’t see animals walking around wanting to puncture holes in their bodies just to dangle objects off of. But, my human did it too. When she was about 5 her mum took a needle, an ice cube, and a potato to do the job. Worked well and they are still pierced today. But I still think it’s a tad odd to self puncture your body. Your mom must be brave.

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  6. What a nice memory. 🙂 Just the topic made me cringe though because when I had it done the doctor used a needle and just stuck it in and pulled surgical thread through. I thought I was going to die. He just looked at me and said ‘well, do you want the other one done or just walk around with one.’ I had the other one done, but it sure hurt and not a ‘pinch.’ 🙂

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  7. Oh Kate, I loved this story. There is no pressure like trying to follow a 6-year-old at anything 😆
    Your mom sounds like she had a bit of an adventurous side. Good for her!!

    I was about 7 or 8 when my mom pierced my ears – with a fat needle and an ice cube. I can’t say it was particularly pleasant (the ice cube was the worst! … especially the second time around), but she did a great job 🙂

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  8. My mother never got her ears pierced and wasn’t keen on the idea of me having mine done. I finally got mine done when I went off to college and didn’t tell her until it was a done deal (yes, I was a rebel way back then 🙂 ). My holes have since closed up and I seldom wear clips because they are uncomfortable. My life is changing to be more about comfort than glamour.

    Just a pinch? That’s what my dentist used to say before sticking a big needle into my gums. Yikes!

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  9. Just a pinch! The best part is that the just a pinch did not last long. But, I had to have it done twice! As it turns out, the first time I had it done I was allergic (did not know til then) to the white gold earring. Oh what a mess…but 58 years later…I’m glad it was done!!!! Actually a nice memory of your Mom.

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  10. I had mine done when I was 19, and everything was fine until I had to turn them the first time, then I felt sick! I can only wear gold though and a pair of beautiful jade earrings I bought in NZ are in the box because they are not on gold stems as I thought and made my ears so sore the only time I wore them..
    I have fond memories of my Mum buying earrings for me. We picked out four or five pairs around the same price, then I walked away so that she could choose, knowing I’d like them, but still get a surprise because I wouldn’t know which ones.

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  11. What a great story.
    Clip-ons were a real annoyance. I have a bunch from high school and a few of my mom’s still.
    Pierced ears were late thing for me, but it is so much easier and I don’t have to worry about losing the Navaho earrings I love….or did just seems silly to wear lovely earings in the backyard these days – but I do put them on every often just to make sure they will still work when there’s someplace to wear them

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    • I don’t have much memory of my piercing but he used a numbing cream and maybe that helped. I don’t think it was completely painless. I had a second set done about 10 years later and don’t remember much about that. Maybe I lose brain cells when it’s done.

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  12. I never had my ears pierced. Fear of pain and my Mom saying it was a barbaric custom stopped me. Of course this was way before your time. I have always admired the fine jewelry earrings though and that you don’t have to worry about losing them.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Good for your mom! Both getting her ears pierced at the “advanced age” of 50. Ha! And for the “just a pinch” running joke with you.

    I have large earlobes with a GENEROUS blood supply. After getting my ears pierced at a jewelry store (age 13), I headed down the street for lunch with my mom when I realized that the whole side of my neck was a sticky bloody mess. Eww! I hadn’t seen that coming.

    We retraced our steps to the jewelry store and they cleaned me up.

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  14. I love your mother’s attitude. I was in my 30’s when I had my ears pierced in the mall. It was more than a pinch, but I kept telling myself it was no worse than wearing clip-ons. I’ve enjoyed earrings ever since.

    I loved reading your tale of giving your mom pierced ears. What a marvelous gift! I’ll bet she was grateful the rest of her life. Thanks for including her photo.

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  15. Oh, this story reminded me of my own piercing story…my mom wanted her ears pierced and had me get mine done first, as the family guinea pig! Since I survived, she was happy to go next. Yep, Mom loved me but after this I wondered if she would step in front of a speeding car for me or hold me in front of her to soften the blow🤔🤣🤣🤣.

    Deb

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  16. I waited until my 20s to get mine pierced although I wanted them done earlier. When I finally got my “spurt of courage” I went to a jewelry store and they assigned THE GUN to a novice – someone “learning”. The gun got STUCK in my ear. The needle was through my ear and they couldn’t get it OUT. I sat there while the procession of other employees tried to get me UNSTUCK. Finally the manager did it. That ear was NEVER the same. The hole wasn’t straight either (I suppose that’s no biggie but it was a downward hole which was forever a pain when I put earrings on). I survived (obviously) but in the last few years I quit wearing earrings and the holes are now closed. Thinking of leaving them that way but I have SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many pretty earrings!!! Decisions – decisions………………

    Hugs, Pam

    Liked by 1 person

    • Since retirement I rarely wear earrings but my holes are still there. Sometimes it takes me a bit longer to work them through but they are still there. I also have a second set that I had done later and those are still open but even harder to thread through. I have a beautiful pair of clip-ons but I just can’t wear them.

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  17. love this story…just a pinch, yes ;O) I was the girl with the needle and the ice cube and I helped my friends who got no ok from their parents to pierce their ears… my mother was NOT amused about my piercing studio in her bathroom and she sadly ruined my business…

    Liked by 1 person

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