DESPITE a deafening silence from the readers on many of the subjects explored here, it is high time that this column weigh in on the issue of men who wear earrings.
For the record, let me say that as an enlightened citizen of the '90s, I see nothing wrong with a man jabbing a large hole in his earlobe, waiting a few days for the bleeding and subsequent raging infection to die down, and then sticking a cheap piece of metal in what used to be perfectly healthy skin tissue.
If that is what you want to do with your ear (or ears), fine. Knock yourself out. Although it seems to me that certain common-sense guidelines should be followed to ensure that the man not resemble a lunatic or (and this is the tricky part) a showy Amsterdam hooker.
The first has to do with the size of the earring itself.
As a general rule, less is more when it comes to male earrings. A small, tasteful stud or discreet hoop looks perfectly fine, and may well be worth the ordeal of having one's earlobe punched through with what is, for all intents and purposes, the business end of a Black & Decker drill.
The men who lose me are those who insist on wearing these huge, gaudy hoops which, coupled with a close-cropped haircut, give them an eerie resemblance to all-purpose kitchen cleanser mascot Mr. Clean.
Similarly, a man who works at a 7-Eleven near my home wears a four-inch hoop in one ear, a three-day growth of whiskers and walks with a rolling gait, giving him the startling appearance of a buccaneer.
All he needs is an eye-patch and a parrot on one shoulder and you'd swear it was Blackbeard ringing up that Slurpie.
As it is, I have to check the urge to ask why he's not digging for buried treasure on the island of Tortuga, instead of straightening the magazine rack.
Men who wear long dangly earrings can appear equally bizarre, as tennis fans who have watched professional head case Andre Agassi can attest.
High-strung British pop singer George Michael also affects this look. With two dangling earrings, lip gloss and eyeliner, he often appears on stage as if about to host a large Tupperware party.
Anyone who watched this year's Super Bowl might have seen the sidelines cameras focus from time to time on an injured Buffalo Bills player on crutches, with a huge silver earring dangling from his left ear.
I hope he doesn't take this the wrong way, but the man looked silly. Instead of a rough, tough football player cursing his fate and itching to get in there and hit someone, he looked like he was about to audition for the part of Cleopatra in the re-make of "Julius Caesar."
pTC At the risk of being accused of ageism, there is a period in a man's life after which the wearing of an earring is unseamly.
A young man of 22 wearing an earring looks hip, whereas a man of 52 invariably looks pathetic, sort of like those grandfathers who wore paisley shirts and bell-bottoms in the Sixties.
This is why it used to be so unsettling to see CBS-TV newsman Ed Bradley wear an earring.
The first time I noticed his earring was during a "60 Minutes" interview with the oily president of some shady manufacturing company that was, I don't know, dumping carcinogens in a town's drinking water or something.
Anyway, Bradley was hammering this guy pretty good, to the point where the guy was sweating and squirming and babbling something stupid like: "Well, uh, you know, Ed, certain types of cancer might actually be good for you."
Suddenly I noticed a glint of sunshine over Bradley's left shoulder.
"My God!" I cried. "Ed Bradley has tiny beams of light shooting out from one earlobe!"
Thankfully, it turned out to be an earring, and not some sort of glowing, other-worldly sign or physical disturbance emanating from within the newsman himself.
But the effect was so disconcerting that I spent the rest of the interview staring at Bradley's earring and paying absolutely no attention to what this crooked CEO was saying.
The man could have been telling Bradley: "Yeah, well, everyone who drank that water's going to turn green and die, but that's tough" and I wouldn't have heard him.
L I don't know. Maybe it's me. But Ed Bradley with an earring?
It just . . . didn't seem to work.