I had my ear pierced for the first time in 1978, in Taipei, Taiwan. Walked by a jewelry store and spontaneously decided to buy a little gold stud. Asked the sales person to put it into my right ear. She used a gun-shaped device to knock it into the ear. Why? I am not sure. Perhaps I felt I looked too bürgerlich. That’s an interesting German word that can have a lot of different meanings. Civil and normal would be closest to what I felt. Earrings were often worn by pirates, but also by carpenters and traveling musicians. Perhaps, at this point in my year-long journey I started to feel that I might want to live the life of a musician and the stud was the signal of my intention. I wore the little stud and soon forgot about it.
A few months later I found myself in Thailand, about to board a bus from Bangkok to Phuket Island. A lot of busses were getting hi-jacked and robbed at that time and in order to attract less attention I tried removing the stud from my right ear. I couldn’t find the lock behind the ear and tried pulling out the stud from the front. Something was resisting and it hurt, but I gave it a good tug and the stud came out. Since it seemed a little infected I did not put the stud back into the right ear.
A few months later still, I found myself in New Delhi and staying on the roof of a hotel – the cheapest beds were on the roof, under a tent-like structure, with maybe 10 beds placed under the tent… An Australian girl pierced my right ear, again – by placing a potato behind my ear and jamming a needle with thread through the ear into the potato…
Fast forward about six months and I am walking around Cologne with my brother. Something had been itching in my right ear-lobe for a few days… and I kept touching it. I walked into a restroom and looked into the mirror. A strange shine seemed to emanate from my right ear lobe, only when the light hit it at a certain angle… I leaned forward and closer and started pulling on my ear – and removed the clasp that had been fastened on the stud in Taiwan, and which I could not find in Thailand. Apparently my ear-flesh had grown around and over the clasp while I was in Taiwan and Hongkong, and caused the resistance I experienced in Bangkok when I tried to remove the stud. The girl in New Delhi had re-pierced my ear in a higher spot – above the clasp inside my earlobe. And now the clasp had completed its journey from behind my ear through my ear to the front.
I started wearing an earring in the new, higher hole and soon the weight of that ring made the top hole unite with the bottom hole to form one rather large hole…
Anyway, in the Summer of 1979 I lived in New York and Vermont and it was cool to have an earring in the right ear. In the Fall, however, I moved to Boston. Different rules applied in Boston – I believe Keith Richards commented somewhere on this silliness also: while in New York an earring in your left ear was considered a gay-signal and an earring on the right was a thing a lot of musicians wore, it was the other way around in Boston. My solution was simple, I got a hole in my left ear as well and started wearing two earrings.
The two gold earrings I have worn since 1990 were custom-made since I couldn’t find anything I liked. I wanted simple earRINGs and the solution was to buy two wedding bands and modify them by removing a small section and adding a hinged lock to each.
I remember a conversation with my accupuncturist in Santa Fe, a wonderful woman I went to for many years and to whom I took lots of friends and family. She told me that she figured that some drunken sailor got an earring and by sheer luck the ring went through an acupuncture meridian that can improve the eye sight. Their sight did improve and from then on many other sailors attempted to improve their sight with rings.
Actually, men have worn earrings throughout history. In most depictions the Buddha has elongated earlobes. He probably wore heavy earrings in his youth but later discarded them. Depicting the distended earlobes is supposed to show his rejection of those material possessions. Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun’s death mask shows earring boreholes. Friezes from Persepolis, the capital of the Persian Empire (550–330 BC), show warriors wearing earrings.
Like everything else, earrings are cyclical, they come and go. That’s my earring story.