Wednesday, December 3, 2014

before it was cool: the tragus piercing.

I’m not exactly what you’d call an early adopter. I was one of the last people in junior high to ditch my tapered jeans for flares, and I got my first smartphone around the time grandmas were signing up for them.

However, every once in a great while, I’ve been known to be one step ahead. Not often, but it happens. One such occasion?

The tragus piercing.

When I was eighteen, I got a shitty tattoo. When I was nineteen, I got another one. After the second tattoo, I made the wise decision (read: was threatened by my parents) to lay off the tattoos. So I set my sights on piercings.

I should tell you right up front: we’re talking ear piercings only. I have never had any desire to pierce anything but my ears, and chances are I never will.

I first saw a tragus piercing in Minneapolis. It wasn’t anything I’d ever seen before, and it seemed very classy and big city. I was nineteen-ish, and the big piercing trend around then was the Monroe: you pierce your lip so it looks kind of like a mole. You know.

But among the sea of Monroes, I saw a tragus piercing and LOVED it. It was edgy, but delicate. Unusual, but discreet. I had to have one.

Unlike my tattoos (which were basically impulse purchases), I gave myself some time to think over the tragus piercing. I had almost passed out during my last tattoo, so I wasn’t chomping at the bit to stroll into a tattoo shop for more needle poking.

I thought about that piercing for a large part of my sophomore year of college, but I didn’t get it done until summer break. I was working at the Brookings county courthouse for the summer, and I just up and decided that was the day I’d get my piercing. On my lunch break, I drove over to the same grimy Brookings tattoo parlor where I’d gotten my discount tattoos done, and I got my first non-Claire’s piercing.

First of all, I felt like a total badass. They came at me with a gigantic needle – not the piercing guns of my Claire’s days – and I barely flinched. I had been imagining excruciating pain for so long that the real deal was barely more than a pinch.  

I loved it. My friends loved it. My brand-new boyfriend James loved it. Life with a tragus piercing was grand…

…until I started seeing them EVERYWHERE.

I enjoyed a good couple of years with my tragus piercing. Total strangers would come up to me, tell me that they loved it, and ask me if it hurt. “Nope,” I would tell them. “Didn’t hurt a bit.”

Slowly, more tragus piercings were appearing. I started to see them not just in Minneapolis, but in Morris, Sioux Falls, Brookings… and even my teeny weeny hometown. There had been a tragus explosion.

Now, everyone and their mom has a tragus piercing. It is far from special, and though mine has brought me great joy over the years, I feel like a little bit of a dumbass for having mine. And there’s really no way to let the innocent bystander know that I had my tragus piercing before they were cool.

So if I feel like such a tool, why don’t I just take my tragus piercing out and be done with it? Alas, it’s no longer that simple. I’ve had that piercing for more than seven years now, and it’s not just going to grow back. If I take the earring out, then I have a weird-looking hole in my ear, and that’s almost worse. (Surprise! Grimy tattoo parlor doesn’t do a very good job with piercings, either.)

For now, I’m stuck with a trendy piercing. I do my best to make it less obvious – the earrings I wear are very small, and if my hair is down, you’d never know it was there. It has most certainly lost the edgy appeal it once had, but I’m not quite ready to abandon it all together.

So I will just have to embrace my tragus piercing hipster-dom. I did it before it was mainstream, and according to hipster logic, that makes me superior.

Or something.

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