"I'm going to get some more piercings," my mother announced recently, out of the blue.
As a child, you never expect to hear your parents say certain words. Like the time I heard my dad call someone a cocksucker for the first time when someone cut him off on the highway. You never expect to hear your dad say "cock," much as you don't expect your mother to say "piercings" or "gonorrhea" (as she did memorably during a 1997 birds-and-bees talk over lunch at a Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood. I never did finish my lo mein.) I mean, you know that technically they can say make the sounds for words like those with their lips and tongues and teeth, but you trust that they won't, so as not to make their children's eardrums spontaneously implode from the force of the shame.
"Piercings? As in plural?" I asked gingerly, glancing at my mother's traditionally-pierced ears, the only holes in her body not present at birth. "Like... where?"
"I'm getting two more in my right ear and one in my left," she said, and I sighed with relief. There were so many ways that our conversation could have taken a turn for the worse.
Don't get the wrong idea -- my mother isn't a thrill-seeking biker chick (not that there's anything wrong with that). But she has always really accepting of whatever I chose to do to my appearance. She took me to get my ears pierced when I was six, simply because I asked. And when I called her in 10th grade to get permission to dye my hair black, she actually laughed.
"Honey, please," she said. "Call me when you get a tattoo!"
Three years later, when I actually did get a tattoo, I didn't call her, mostly because I was drunk but also because I was certain she'd try to talk me out of it. I was nervous showing it to my parents, and it is to their credit that they took it in stride, especially considering that of all the images to imprint on my skin for eternity I chose a silhouette of Tinker Bell from Peter Pan that made her look kind of like a mudflap girl. When I unveiled my new tat, still shiny with Bacitracin, all my mom asked was, "Is that permanent?" And when I said yes, she shrugged as if to say, what's done is done. "Just don't get a tongue ring," she said.
Three years later, when I got my tongue ring... just kidding, I don't have a tongue ring. That would have been awesome though. I should get one just to make this story better. Right, Mom?
P.S. This post has no photos because... well, just don't Google "piercing Mom," okay? It will have the same effect on your appetite as your mother blithely rattling off the symptoms of various STDs.
P.P.S. You want a picture? You got it.
(That's me and my college BFF Meredith, at our 5 year reunion. Her parents were not so jazzed about the tat, but that's what you get for letting your daughter run with a badass renegade like me.)