I never had tattoos, nor do I plan for any. During my “metal head days” (ZJ’s description of my blue, pink, and sometimes purple highlighted or ombré hair), I dreamed I would ink myself some day. I had an elaborate plan to get a full back piece exhibiting an Eastern flair: a dragon as the centerpiece. Thankfully, I never gave any thought to getting Chinese, Japanese, or Hebrew words etched on my skin. The thought of getting the Star of David or any Jewish symbols for that matter, also never crossed my mind.
I recall being taught in Hebrew school that Reform Judaism, with all its progressive teachings and interpretations of the Jewish tradition, still frowns upon getting inked. This is because of the events of the Holocaust, when numbers were tattooed on camp inmates, a reminder survivors carried for the rest of their lives. The fourth grade Hebrew school teacher, the year devoted to World War II Jewish history, added many Jewish cemeteries refuse to bury Jews who voluntarily get their skin etched.
And although I do not have piercings besides double earlobe ones, in college I had two lip piercings and a cartilage ear piercing I had done on a teen tour trip to Israel. I was 16 years old when I had the cartilage done, and I took it out about a year ago. I never could find the right ring or stud to place there, and ultimately it became a nuisance, getting caught on a comb while getting the usual five dollar haircut in Xi’an. The hairstylist always exclaiming how embarrassed they were for pulling on my earlobe made it that much easier to part ways.
The lip piercings, or snakebites, were done while attending Goucher College, my alma mater. My freshman year, and within two weeks of arriving on campus, I paraded around with two large rings through my bottom lip. Those closest to me had a hard time believing I would do such a thing as I have the lowest threshold for pain. In all honesty, the act of getting pierced itself did not hurt as much as the healing process. I squirmed very little, holding a newly acquired friend’s hand, and if memory serves me well, I squeezed the friend’s hand a little too firmly.
I took the left snakebite out in my second year of college; it was getting irritated from having to remove it for a food service and retail job. My college bookstore job never had a problem with the piercing, thanks to my understanding boss knowing full well Goucher students were an eccentric bunch. It also helped that I did my job 🙂
I eventually took out the right lip piercing when I knew I would be teaching in China. Scaring my students, sadly, did not top my living and working in China bucket list. I also knew from having traveled abroad to China in Summer 2007 while a student at Goucher, facial piercings were not all too common. Thinking ahead about the fact that I would already draw plenty of stares from passersby, I removed the most visual element of my rebellious slash angst teenage phase, ending that chapter, unaware of what (or more like who) awaited me more than 8,000 miles from home.
Readers: Did/Do you have any piercings or tattoos?