Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The end of an era

I got my nipples pierced on May 1, 1999 -- more or less on a dare. It took a good week for them to stop being white-hot beacons of pain, and another six months for them to stop bleeding and crusting and oozing and generally being puffy and repulsive.

Once they settled down, though, they made great conversation starters when I was shirtless, and they gave me a harmless little naughty-boy I-have-a-secret thrill when I was all buttoned up and normal-looking on the outside. And over the last almost-five years, I amassed a small menagerie of nipple jewelry as I switched from hoops to barbells, had the holes stretched and replaced random pieces as they fell out. I even had to have one nipple re-pierced after a barbell fell out and the holes grew shut before I noticed.

But there are milestones in a man's life, and doing certain things past those milestones just makes you look desperate, stupid and/or foolish. Like getting wasted past the age of 22. Or wearing Abercrombie & Fitch past the age of about 28. Or having body piercings in your 30s. Clearly, at 35 (and a half) I was on borrowed time, and clearly I was overdue to reclaim my nipples.

But I needed a push. And that push happened yesterday morning when I woke up to discover that one of the barbells had fallen out again. And that I couldn't get it back in the holes when I finally found it. So, resigned to the obligations of propriety that come with my advancing age, I unceremoniously removed the other one and went boldly into the world sans chest hardware for the first time in almost five years.

But I'm looking at it as part of my very own Extreme Makeover: I've been using Crest Whitestrips for the last few weeks. I'm having LASIK surgery on Friday. And I'm thinking of getting my hair cut this weekend.

Top it all off with my almost-normal-looking nipples, and I'll walk into work Monday morning a new man.

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