An earring? Beats a spike

January 11, 1994|By Kevin Cowherd

If memory serves, I had just drifted off for a nap, maybe even entered the REM phase, when the 11-year-old asked if we could talk about the "earring thing" again.

According to him, earrings are cool and all his friends wear earrings, not to mention just about every guy in his school, and he'd like to wear one, too, except his old man is a fascist geek.

He didn't actually use the term "fascist geek," but that's certainly what he was thinking.

"Look," I said, "if your mother and I let you wear an earring, you'll want a tattoo next, something with a big skull and flying dragons, and then you'll join an outlaw motorcycle gang and take up with a wild woman named Louise who'll talk you into RTC holding up a convenience store at 3 in the morning, for which you'll get caught and do hard time while Louise takes up with your best friend Elmo.

"That's what an earring can lead to. You ask me, it's just not worth it."

He walked away shaking his head and I sure couldn't blame him. It sounded like a lot of crap to me, too, but it was the best crap I could come up with on the spur of the moment.

That's the thing about kids: They're always asking you for something without giving you time to make up a good story. After a while it really gets annoying.

Actually, I don't have a problem with my son wearing an earring, if that's what he wants to do when he's a little older.

The fact is, I wanted an earring myself when I was young, except I ran into a little problem, the problem being that I was too chicken. This condition came as the result of the time me and Jim Cusimano decided to get our ears pierced.

We ended up in this head shop -- look, this was back in 1970, everyone was terminally stupid -- where a man with long, stringy hair and maybe three teeth gave us each an ice cube to numb our ear lobes. Jim volunteered to go first, which was fine with me -- in fact, I may have even pushed him into the chair.

Then the man pulled out a needle the size of a harpoon and jabbed Jim in the ear lobe. Jim, the toughest linebacker on the football team, did not handle this well, screaming and carrying on.

"Well, forget this," I thought. "Maybe a nice paisley shirt would be the way to go here." So I never got my ear pierced and neither did Jim, for that matter -- he freaked out so much the man gave us our money back and told us to get out.

The point is, I am certainly not anti-earring, although I favor tasteful studs or small hoops for men, not those big, dangly things that look like something Lola Falana wears on stage at the Sahara.

If you're a guy and you show up for work on the loading dock with an earring like that, people are gonna talk.

Compared to some things kids are wearing these days, a guy with an earring is no big deal anymore.

Are you kidding? If you're a parent, your kid might come to you now and say: "I'm thinking of getting a nose ring, maybe something with five holes. Unless you think that's too busy."

Or he could suddenly show up at the breakfast table with a nipple ring. Or, I don't know, a 6-inch silver spike implanted through his cheek.

So an earring is no big deal. Hell, whenever my kid asks me for an earring, I'm tempted to reach in my pocket and say: "Look, here's a few bucks -- get yourself a couple of earrings. See if any of your friends want earrings, too. But, hey -- no spikes through the cheek, OK?"

Most guys with earrings look pretty good, with one obvious exception: old guys. I remember when Ed Bradley of "60 Minutes" wore an earring. It just didn't look right, like Ed was trying just a little too hard to be hip.

He'd be interviewing someone like Yasser Arafat, and you could see Arafat was thinking: "What's with the old dude and the earring? Wait'll I tell the boys back in Tunis about this."

Of course, times have changed and now Ed Bradley could probably interview the pope on network television with a spike through his cheek. Especially if it was a small, tasteful spike.

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