1. Ear piercing
I had my first ever body piercing at the age of thirty. I had my ears pierced as finally I decided to wear earrings. My old pediatrician-then mentor did the epiphany with the ear gun, the same kind she used for creatures thirty years younger than me. She let me choose from among the display of multi-colored studs. It was her gift and told me not to remove them for one week . I was to clean the piercings with alcohol every day.
Thus my adventure with earrings began.
I experimented with a variety of earrings. Mostly chunky ones. Once I had the compulsion to wear huge loop earrings because I thought they went well with my top with flutter sleeves. A friend-former classmate-now-surgeon-now critic-now former friend blurted
‘Nice pair of bracelets you’ve got on your ear!’.
Being semi fluent in sarcasm I snapped back
‘Ah ah, wrong about the bracelets. These are hula-hoops!’
Before I left for the capital for my training, I casually mentioned to a colleague that I found multiple ear piercings interesting and exotic. She couldn’t be the more perfect person to tell this to because she herself had two piercings in one ear and four in the other. And again, armed with an ear gun, she pierced another one on my right and did not make me pay for it. It was her birthday gift to me.
I went to the capital feeling funkier and more chic, or so I thought. I’d wear two studs or one stud with a drop or chunky chandelier earrings on my right ear.
The love affair with two piercings in one ear was short lived. It ended when best-est friend, who would invite me to formal occasions frowned upon the idea. You see, he moved around the diplomatic circle counting His Excellencies, consuls, charges d’ affaires among his friends. Once he invited me to a send off party of someone from the Indonesian embassy. Although it was an informal party, one among the many, this time hosted by someone from the consulate of Chile, I showed up with the chunkiest pair of earrings all on my right ear that made the usually unperturbed best-est friend to say ‘That is too much!’. I removed the offending earrings, licked my wounds, threw orchid petals, floating candles into the bedecked, swimming pool like the other guests did. I also thew in my earrings. And so it became a bedazzled, bejeweled swimming pool.
2. Nose piercing
The idea first went into my head when I saw Thavamalar, a doctor from the health ministry of Malaysia. Although belatedly I learned from my Indian students that a nose piercing or ring can be faked using the clip, I wanted mine with carats. I wanted real piercings.
The problem with the nose piercing however was that, it would draw too much attention to my nose which I’ve always found unattractive. And even if I’ve had the same nose for forty three years, I was not comfortable with it. I was, (I still am) pug nosed. I resigned to the fact that nose piercings would look good on pointy, aquiline nose which I do not have.
3. Navel (Belly button) piercing
It was my youngest sister’s idea. We were crossing the Bar Gate in Southampton on our way to the shopping mall. It was Indian summer in the UK and was a grand time to be tossing thick, frumpy clothing for tank tops, midriffs and shorts. It was also a good time to show off belly button rings and navel piercings. We were choosing the high end titanium kind as my sister wanted me to only have the best when I remembered I had to ask permission from hubby.
I called him up and could sense his discomfiture as I recited to him the long litany of chic-ness, vogue-ness hip-ness and fashionable-ness I was about to engage myself into. After blabbing for full five minutes, I waited for an answer. The other end of the line was silent. He hung up on me. He was a classic case of silence means ‘No’. Better that than hearing a volley of vitriol and profanities.
4. Henna tattoo
When the island of Boracay became a hit over two decades ago, tribal art using henna was introduced by enterprising artists and continue to do so to this day. However, I did not have my first henna tattoo from Boracay. I first had mine after I got married. A few weeks into the marriage, my husband and I stayed in a suite in Subic Yacht Club. Outside of it was a country carnival fair with makeshift stalls offering henna tattoo services. I asked permission to have one. It was a lengthy, bloody compromise and he relented as long as it was ‘small’ and ‘inconspicuous’. Small and inconspicuous did not make sense at the time but I thought it was better than nothing. I chose a Chinese character which I did not understand and had it painted a little above my left breast. When hubby learned where I hid the henna tattoo, he almost went ballistic. No, berserk was more like it. But at least I complied with his ridiculous ‘compromise agreement’.
5. Body tattoo
Body art was nothing new to our culture. Our ancestors called Pintados (Painted Ones), by the time Ferdinand Magellan discovered the archipelago, already had them. I realized I wanted one when low rise jeans were the fashion du jour. When a girl with an angel or butterfly tattoo wearing thongs and low rise jeans leans over to pick up something, for example her daughter and son (at the same time) in a car park in Whiteley, the tattoo (and thong) would play peek-a-boo and it was to me a the sexiest thing to see. I wanted some of the sexiness rubbed off, I mean tattooed on me too!
Many things worked against me with the body tattoo. First, my age. I was nearing forty at the time. Second, my very conservative husband who thought the idea of his almost forty year old wife wearing low jeans with peek-a-boo thong strings and butterfly tattoo would be more than enough ground for him to be disinherited by his family. Thanks to me. Third, at the time, the ink was permanent, hence the tattoo was permanent. It was this sense of permanence that somehow made me think twice, thrice about my peek-a-boo butterfly tattoo. I could not imagine becoming a tottering grandma with a butterfly tattoo on her bum.
Which means the only tattoo I can have are cosmetic ones. Eyebrow tattoos. A few months ago a ninety four year old lady asked for a medical clearance because she was going to have a permanent eyebrow tattoo. I just might consider this one. However, I will wait until I become very old because when the facial skin comes sagging, and the forehead is no exception, the tattoo lines might sag too. I’ll end up with wide greenish looking eyebrow tattoos (the ink in old times would leak) on top of my eyelids. Or if I should have Botox done on my face, the skin might become taut and tight I’ll end up with eyebrows in the middle of my forehead.
So, which ones did you miss out growing up? Nerd or not.