To Pierce or Not to Pierce? Do I Dare?

IMG_20190909_101510182[1]I don’t have pierced ears. I know, what’s wrong with me? Not having pierced ears means that I can’t wear most of the earrings sold at stores, farmers’ markets, craft fairs, etc. It means that occasionally someone gifts me with a pair of earrings that I regretfully set aside. It also means that I have spent a lifetime collecting clip-on and screw-on earrings at antique stores and wherever I could find them. Loving friends have also made them for me. I’ve got quite a collection now.

I also have numerous single earrings for which the partner has been lost because some of them, especially the screw-on ones, come off pretty easily.

Why am I thinking about earrings? I’m trying to not think about illness and death for once, and I’m slowly going through the things I brought home from my parents’ house. Among those things is a pair of sapphire earrings from my mother’s dresser. They came with a matching necklace and are so pretty I feel guilty for taking them, but I’m the daughter. Besides, who else wears clip-on earrings?

IMG_20190909_101454272[1]I haven’t taken many of my mother’s earrings because we had different taste. She wore button-shaped earrings, no danglers, no whimsical symbols, no cats, dogs, peace signs, etc. (What? No American flag for Fourth of July?) The buttons are my least favorite earrings, not only because of how they look—I like a little dangle—but because they’re heavy, and their clip-on fasteners hurt. First they ache, then the lobes go numb, then when you take them off all the blood rushes in and they hurt even worse. It’s no wonder Mom only wore them for dress-up.

I’m not sure why my mother never got her ears pierced. Maybe her generation, born in the 1920s, didn’t do that. Online articles suggest that “good girls” didn’t wear earrings in her era. Then came the ’60s and pierced ears were the least of our worries.

I do know that when my friends were getting their ears pierced in high school, my mother would not allow me to join them. To her, pierced ears were something that foreigners did, including probably her Portuguese ancestors. God forbid we look foreign in any way. But Mom! All my gringo friends are doing it.

Since then, I have not liked the idea of putting holes in my earlobes, purposely creating a wound and keeping it open forever. Even now it makes me squirm. Also, I love my antique earrings. Can I still wear them if I have pierced ears?

IMG_20190909_101439168[1]But I’m tempted. In the wake of my father’s death, I’m considering all kinds of changes. Piercing my ears is one of them. I’d like to wear those tiny earrings that are too small for clips or screws. It would be wonderful to be able to buy earrings everywhere. I could finally join the cool kids.

My friend Pat has been trying to get me to pierce my ears for years. I might be ready now. It feels like time to change things up. Maybe I’ll grow my hair out. Maybe I’ll change jobs, volunteer for something new, or even take a real vacation now that I’m not always ready to bolt to San Jose to help my father. He would like it if I did that. Go someplace. See something different, he always said.

This time between his death and the funeral, I see-saw between being full of plans and being so mired in grief that all I can do is eat, watch videos, assemble online jigsaw puzzles, and cry. It takes a long time to get comfortable with the grief, and each loss joins with the previous losses to make one massive ball of hurt.

But we’re talking about earrings today. What about you? Does anyone else still have unpierced ears? Why? If pierced, when and where did you have it done, and what made you do it? How long did it take before they didn’t bleed or hurt? What advice do you have for me? Please chime in. I really want to know.

Here’s an interesting article that traces ear piercing back to Biblical times. It says there was a lull in the 1920s-1950s, which explains Mom’s clip-on earrings.


My father Clarence “Ed” Fagalde’s funeral Mass is Friday, Sept. 13, 10:30 a.m., at St. Martin of Tours in San Jose. We will gather at my aunt’s house afterward for a barbecue. The funeral home has posted a beautiful slide show online at with pictures from my father’s life. It tells a wonderful story. My father was handsome, my mother gorgeous, and my brother and I pretty darned cute—except for that unfortunate phase with the headbands and braces. And the bare earlobes.



Author: Sue Fagalde Lick

writer/musician California native, Oregon resident Author of Freelancing for Newspapers, Shoes Full of Sand, Azorean Dreams, Stories Grandma Never Told, Childless by Marriage, and Up Beaver Creek. Most recently, I have published two poetry chapbooks, Gravel Road Ahead and The Widow at the Piano: Confessions of a Distracted Catholic. I have published hundreds of articles, plus essays, fiction and poetry. I'm also pretty good at singing and playing guitar and piano.

3 thoughts on “To Pierce or Not to Pierce? Do I Dare?”

  1. Actually I did not have my ears pierced until the 70’s. We were at Ardis’ (my sister) house in Sterling City celebrating Thanksgiving. She announced that she was taking Chris and me to Chico for some Christmas shopping. When we got to the mall she rushed us to the earring store and announced that Chris and I were both going to have our ears pierced because she wanted to buy us earrings for Christmas, birthdays, etc. No blood or pain at all. And I have been happy with all my pretty earrings.


  2. I was surprised you don’t have your ears pierced, being Portuguese, but I understand your mother’s desire not to seem foreign. It’s still common among my Italian in-laws to have little girls’ ears pierced quite young, sometimes even when they’re babies. When my dh brought me home to met his family, I saw his aunts all looking at me & smiling & chattering excitedly, and I asked him what they were saying. Apparently it was “She has pierced ears, just like an Italian girl!!” lol

    I love telling people my pierced ears story! 🙂 In the small town where we lived when I was a kid, only the trampy girls had their ears pierced; at least that’s how it seemed to me. None of my friends had their ears pierced at that point. Then (in 1974, when I was 13) we moved to a larger town. Pierced ears were suddenly popular and many of the girls at our school either had theirs pierced already or were getting them done. My younger sister decided she wanted hers done. I threw a FIT… I hadn’t wanted to move, away from my friends, I didn’t like our new town, and this clinched it for me. I was sure this was the first step to my sister’s moral downfall, and that next, my parents would be getting a divorce. (Next year will be their 60th wedding anniversary!) My mother had hers done a couple of years later, and then even my GRANDMOTHER had hers done!

    Of course, it wasn’t long before I realized that maybe pierced ears weren’t so bad, and that some of the earrings were kind of cute. 😉 But after the fuss I’d kicked up, I wasn’t going to admit it, haha. The week after my 18th birthday in 1979 (when I no longer needed parental permission), we were shopping in the city, and I went to the jewelry counter at Eaton’s department store and had my ears pierced. They did it with one of those piercing guns. It was fast & only hurt for a second each. My mother laughed & laughed when I showed her. I still have the studs they put in for me then (although my collection has grown a lot over 40 years, lol). I turned them and cleaned them every night with rubbing alcohol, as instructed, and after about a month or 6 weeks, I was ready to wear earrings. Never had any issues since then.

    I say go for it, Sue. As I said, even my grandmother had her ears pierced before I did, and she was well over 60 by then. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: