A History Of Earrings

I put in my first earring in at the behest of my first live-in girlfriend, the Serially Monogamous Adulteress. The SMA (sorry, but that’s another story) didn’t like boyfriends without earrings so I had to get one. In our little college town, you went to the local hairdresser where one of them had done the necessary course and duly fired a sterile gold bolt through a part of my earlobe she marked with a red pen.
It wasn’t very painful and felt like a further step towards the coolly Bohemian self-image I craved. I had long hair back then and soon replaced the little gold stud with a series of hoops, dangling skulls and (my favourites) hand grenades.

Ten years later, I met Supermum. Supermum had about five in one ear and two in the other when we started seeing each other. She one-upped the SMA effortlessly by deciding to drill the hole for the second earring herself with a sewing needle and an ice cube. Her knees turned a little wobbly part way through so I finished it off myself. The final crunch through the tougher layer of cartillage was very satisfying and I took a great deal of satisfaction in telling the few people who noticed te addition where I’d got it from.

Meanwhile, my hair got shorter and thinner and the earrings accordingly decreased in size. Finding small studs (I kept losing them) became an issue. Mostly, I wore a tri-armed symbol mirroring a tattoo of supermum’s and a skull, both the size of tiny seed pearls. I began leaving them out in certain meetings as I was worried that people would find them a distraction from my presentation of myself. Or maybe that was a rationalisation, though I don’t know what of.

A month ago, I left them on a bed post. I’d been taking them out regularly (earring holes can get seriously grungy) and later changed some duvets and sheets. Predictably, the silver studs went missing in the ensuing flapping and bashing and though I crawled all over the floor, I couldn’t find them.

It takes a while for holes to close up so I didn’t worry too much, assuming I’d pick some up from somewhere. Thing is, I didn’t and it’s now clear that I don’t intend to. Partly it’s the nature of the job interviews I’m chasing and partly – call this an excuse if you like – it’s a sense that I don’t need them anymore. They don’t represent me the way they used to.

So now, I wear my skulls and handgrenades on the inside. I flatter myself they suit me better than ever.
Where do you wear yours, people?

About Dad Who Writes (Gabriel)

Writing, reading, listening, parenting... On Twitter as @dadwhowrites. View all posts by Dad Who Writes (Gabriel)

32 responses to “A History Of Earrings

  • MuddynoSugar

    I used to have five on one ear, one in the other, a belly button piercing and 2 others (you don’t need to know the details of these..ahem). I now where one tiny diamond stud in the top of my left ear, the rest are long gone. I don’t even wear dangley girl earrings. I think you’re right when you are young you have visual displays of who you are, but as you get older you don’t need this any more. Having said that it’s not that long ago I had another tattoo – clinging onto my youth maybe??

    • dadwhowrites

      “Two others”. Oh , I think I can do the maths. Though there was the brief romance between Anthony Head (Giles?) and the teacher-who-was-some-sort-of-witch in Buffy The Vampire Slayer where he retrieved a dropped dangling bit of jewellery to which she responded “How do you know it’s an earring?” Very Joss Whedon.

      I could do with another tattoo too.

  • Heather


    ‘the final crunch through the tougher layer of cartillage’

    made my stomach lurch! I used to wear a lot of earings too, and i don’t wear any these days. Like you i don’t feel like I need to. i have nothing to prove any more. i am who I am and all that and don’t feel the need to broadcast any of it. i think its more to do with self confidence than anything in my case.

  • MrsW

    I can’t remember the last time I wore ear-rings but they do make me feel good. So maybe I’m not quite ready to chuck the shiny dangly props 🙂 They tend to be gold and diamonds now rather than stolen from my uncle’s fly fishing box or cannabis leaves or fish (huge Marillion thing going on back then).

    My OH still sticks a white gold hoop in when we’re off out. He’s rebelling against school I guess (he’s head of English, I’m not shacked up with a child – well none I haven’t incubated and pupped myself).

  • Fran

    Simon Armitage wrote a great poem which begins, ”My father thought it bloody queer/the day I came home with an earring in my ear’. It’s about his Northern childhood and how he felt a wimp for not being brave enough to do a DIY one like his mates. Good poem.

  • Ally

    I only have the two in one ear and one in the other. I used to have four in one, a nose stud and a belly button barbell (twice). The first barbell piercing tried to push itself out across the top of the belly button causing a 1cm scar, so had to be removed. So I had a tattoo done (the second) to distract from the scarring. Then about 4 years later I had the bb piercing done again. It stayed in for about a year before the scarring inside started pushing its way out. It looked like a horrible sausage! So now, just the three plain ear studs (replacing the flying V guitars, skull-like spiders, and the skull and crossbone danglies) and five tattoos.

    Though I would really love to make that six tattoos.

    • dadwhowrites

      Some people just really seem to be unlucky with belly-button piercings. As mentioned below, I could do with another tattoo. Perhaps I should do a “show your tats” meme. Nah, I’m too lazy. Someone else do it.

  • Mwa

    I’ve never had any piercings or tattoos, but I did used to wear mohicans. One memorable one was dyed blonde and was very squint on my head. Then I went bald for a bit. People I meet now just can’t imagine that. I suppose like you and your earrings I now wear my mohicans on the inside. Very well put.

    • dadwhowrites

      Cheers! I never had the kind of hair that could support a Mohican. Or hair dye, really. Everything always tended towards mousey. My hair’s all but shaved off these days, anyway.

  • Adrenalynn

    How ’bout that! I never figured you were an earring kinda guy. But you had me with the skulls and hand grenades, though! My inner power lies in my killer heels. I wear heels as often as I can, and voila! instant self esteem.

  • Chic Mama

    Haha….like Adrenalynn I hadn’t pictured you as the ‘several’ earrings person at all. Amazing how we change our image at different times in our lives. :0)

    • dadwhowrites

      I’m really getting paranoid now. I hadn’t imagined that anyone bothered picturing me at all. I mean, I’m pretty clear in my head from Twitter that you’re an attractive manga cartoon. And Adrenalynn is evidently Carrie Moss (or is that the effect of the glasses?)

  • charlotteotter

    I had a piratical single earring all the way through uni. When I started working I had a matching hole pierced in the other ear. My pirate look was universally hated by everyone except me. Apparently, women can’t do that.

  • bsouth

    I am your common or garden one in each ear girl. Very pedestrian.

    I hadn’t really thought about it for a while but I’ve had these earrings in for at least a year now. I very rarely change them. I should really let them close up but I just can’t let go. I’m obviously having some sort of age-related issue at the moment!

  • Achelois

    I wear two in each ear. Usually silver studs in the top one and hoops in the lower one.

    Really enjoyed this post 🙂

  • Selina Kingston

    When I was 18, I watched my two year old cousin have her ears pierced and she barely flinched so on a whim, I sat in the same chair and told them to do mine. Bloody hell! I’ll never forget the pain or how I cried like a baby while my little cousin watched on with quiet amusement.
    My son is now keen to do one ear and the daughter wants her navel pierced. I feel like fainting just at the mere mention ……

    • dadwhowrites

      True story about supermum’s niece. She’s one of four sisters and when said niece (it was the weekend of her mother’s funeral) went off to get her navel pierced (without permission), she arrived back determined to shock and awe her assembled mother and aunts.
      “I’ve got something to show you,” she announced, lifting her shirt and displaying the shiny new piercing.
      “So have we.” Cue four raised shirts, four more new piercings and one thoroughly discombobulated teenager.

      • MuddynoSugar

        Love that story….Can’t wait for my daughters to grow up now so I can try something equally distressing (demanding years of counselling – for them, not me!) Sadly I remember the Buffy episode…yet again establishing my geekishness. Darn it.

  • Sandy

    Like most girls, I had my ears pierced at 13, actually that was older than most. The hairdresser with the ‘gun’ and little gold post. Sometime around 20 I started noticing lots of girls wearing two in each ear. So in 1976 my husband pierced the other two. Somehow we ended up using a needle and a block of cheese…..don’t ask.

    I wore four (two in each) for a while and then just one and two. It was usually hoops and then a stud in the third. Somewhere along the line I stopped wearing more than the common two. That’s years and years now and I can tell you, the holes do not close up. Even though I haven’t worn earrings in holes three and four, every once in a while I check to see if they’ve closed and they haven’t. Did you really want to know all this???

    BTW first time here by way of Kat. Nice blog.

  • nonlineargirl

    We get so attached to some piece of how we look, thinking it defines us. (I am certainly guilty – would I EVER wear my glasses to meet someone new if I could possibly help it?) After college I got a navel ring, which I took out when I was pregnant the first time. I was sure I’d have it put back later, but after a while it just didn’t seem so important.

    I do still have 2 sets of earrings, but as the babies are in their grab-and-pull stage, I often wear none, for fear of a violent removal. (and in the most un-punk rock piercing ever, my father was the one to give me the second set. He’s a doctor and has a piercing gun at work.)

  • Cam

    Ears pierced when I was a teenager, then had a roommate pierce one ear again when I was in college. We used a needle, some ice and a lot of whiskey, pre & post procedure. Back then ( late ’70s) I didn’t know anyone who had multiple peircings and I thought I was SO avant garde. By the time I was in office-type jobs in the mid 80’s, I got tired of people telling me if I had lost a earring, so I pierced the other ear. Different roommate, same process, probably vodka. Years later, I had two earrings on one side catch on a mohair wrap, ripping one hole completely, so I let the second set close up (one did, one didn’t). Back to just one now, usually small posts, as the tearing incident pretty much assured that I’d lose anything over a certain size or weight, and never again to wear anything dangling. I like your comment about wearing your skull & grenades on the inside. We all wear all sorts of things on the inside as we age, but I’m not sure that it is always good to do so. It may be, though, the only thing that has stopped my from getting at tatoo — the fear that one day I’d want it only visible on the inside and not the outside. That, and the fear that if I did it now, I’d look ridicuously like I was trying to be much younger than I am, at just the point in my life where I’m beginning to embrace being 50.

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