I had my ears pierced when I was five, yet I remember it like it was yesterday. I sat on a kitchen chair while my aunt rubbed a freshly-cut piece of ginger against my earlobes as though she were marinating meat. I wasn’t fully aware of what was to happen. I just liked having my older cousins gathered around paying attention to me. My aunt dotted my lobes with magic marker, threaded two needles with red string, and heated them over the burner.
Everyone wore exaggerated smiles, staring at me like I was some kind of oddity. Why? I didn’t know it at the time, but I’ve come to realize after all these years that they were sadists—not in the true sense, of course, but they were anxious to see my reaction nonetheless. My mother, on the other hand, stood against the wall with a worried look. The moment she turned her head away from me was when the needle punctured my earlobe.
I thrashed about and tried pulling the thread hanging from my ear. My mother stood frozen while my cousins consoled me. Eventually, with a bribe of my favourite dessert, I calmed down long enough to have my other lobe pierced. Thankfully, I didn’t feel a thing this time. As promised, I was treated later that day to lime Jello and proudly pranced around with red thread through my ears. A month later, the thread was replaced by gold dangling hoops.
Unlike girls who’ve had their ears pierced the traditional way with a piercing gun in a mall jewelry store, my holes have never closed. I’m quite certain I could stick rusty nails in them, and they wouldn’t become infected. Hypoallergenic? Ha! There was no such thing back then.
Here I am modeling my first pair of earrings. Please ignore the dreadful outfit.