So then… she says “Absolutely not,” with an air of such finality, it would stop Attila the Hun in his tracks.
Because when my Mom says, “no,” she means “NOOOO!”
But I’m a 16-year-old girl desperate to have my ears pierced.
I’ve been lusting after the earrings at the mall for weeks. They have little gold knots – and darling little hoops – and butterflies! Dainty little gold butterflies, people! MUST HAVE.
Attila ain’t got nothin’ on me. I shall not cease my relentless campaign! I shall scourge the earth and annihilate all obstacles until VICTORY IS MINE! – and those precious butterflies adorn my earlobes!
I follow my Mom into the kitchen, where she’s preparing dinner.
I set the table and say, “Mom, WHY can’t I get my ears pierced? I saved up my babysitting money – and I’ll make sure the piercings won’t get infected – and the mall is just—”
“It’s against the Bible.”
“What? The Bible says I can’t get my ears pierced?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says.
(I’m no theologian, but I don’t remember either of the testaments discussing ear jewelry!)
“Where does it say that?” I ask.
She stirs the spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove and says, “The Bible says it’s a sin to self-mutilate.”
“Self-mutilate!? I’m not mutilating myself!”
“Well, you want to cut holes into your ears, don’t you?”
“Mom, that’s not the same thing! The Bible just doesn’t want you to hack off your hand or something!”
She arches her eyebrows in that “you say potato; I say po-tah-to” sort of way and returns to her sauce.
Seriously! It’s not that she’s a religious fanatic – I mean we go to Church every Sunday, but she’s not a zealot. But she was raised in a pretty strict Catholic family, back in the days when the Mass was said in Latin.
Lots of hellfire and brimstone in those days.
Lots of hard and fast rules – with clear cut consequences leading straight to eternal damnation.
Pierced ears = self-mutilation = grievous sin = loose morals = immediate downward spiral into prostitution, pregnancy, tattoos, heroin addiction, and *gasp* — skipping Easter Mass.
So I beg and plead and debate and beg some more.
She is resolute. It’s like trying to move Mt. Rushmore just a couple inches to the left. She will not budge.
It’s a sin. It’s a sin. It’s a sin.
I insist that the self-mutilation in the Bible DOES NOT refer to pierced ears! Did.I.mention.the.butterflies.Mom?The.earring.butterflies.are.ADORABLE!
FINALLY, she agrees to CONSIDER it – IF and ONLY IF I consult with a priest or nun to CONFIRM that ear piercing does NOT qualify for Biblical self-mutilation.
Ahhhh! The clouds part, the angels sing: HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH!
Quick! Get thee to a nunnery! Find the youngest, hippest, coolest nun you can find!
All night long, I rack my brain to think who I can ask. My very life depends upon it.
Should I ask our parish priest at Mass on Sunday?
Should I ask one of the nuns who teaches at the Catholic school I attend?
Do I choose the youngest nun – the nicest nun – or the nun who teaches the class with my highest grade?
Finally, I settle on Sr. Rita. She’s not young, but she’s an awesome teacher and I love her class.
All day long, I fidget in my blue plaid skirt and white blouse, my legs shaking a mile a minute.
Finally the last bell rings. The rest of the students file out and I stay behind to timidly say, “Sr. Rita, may I please ask you a question?”
She looks up from her papers and says, “Sure.”
Suddenly I lose my nerve. Maybe my Mom is right! Maybe this IS a sin! I don’t want Sr. Rita to think poorly of me.
“Um…um,” I stammer, looking at my shoes.
“What is it, child?” she asks.
“Well, um, my Mom says that something I want to do is a VERY BAD SIN – and that I had to ask your permission before I could do it,” I say.
Sr. Rita raises her eyebrows, crosses her arms, and stares at me intently. “What’s the sin?” she asks.
“I want to…I want to…get my ears pierced!”
Sr. Rita suppresses a grin, her eyes crinkling, as she sighs with relief.
In retrospect, I now realize she probably thought I was going to ask about having sex — or doing drugs — or committing homicide!
In comparison, piercing ears hardly makes a “ding” on the Sin-o-Meter!
She pats my shoulder and says, “Yes, dear, yes. You may pierce your ears. It’s not sinful at all!”
I beam from ear to ear – (soon to be punctured ear to ear) – and thank her profusely!
I fairly explode with happiness! I share the good news with my Mom, who, trooper that she is, lives up to her promise to take me to the mall now that we have a religious blessing.
And I ensure that Sr. Rita is one of the first to see my darling little earring butterflies!
(Of course, I still end up a coke-addict junkie whore – but that’s completely unrelated to the pierced ears.)
Ha! OK, just kidding! Fear not, Sr. Rita, where ever you are: your decree was sound and just. I’ve not squandered your blessing. My pierced ears and I will see you in Heaven one day. (It may take some pretty heavy-duty negotiating to get me on the admit-list, but I aim to rock & roll up there in the Great Beyond!)
— Darcy Perdu
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(Anything YOU wanted as a kid that was impacted by parental reluctance, outright disapproval, or religious beliefs? Do you remember back when you got YOUR piercings?)