Deciding not to wait for an hour for a movie I wasn’t even sure I wanted to see, I pointed my car towards home as inspiration hit me. On my way past a tattoo parlor I was going to stop in to get my nose pierced.
I had been kicking around the thought for over four years, but I felt that I would look like a middle-aged woman trying desperately to look or act young. After seeing quite a few professionals with a nose ring, including the art teacher at my school, I decided it didn’t look trashy or unprofessional. I could pull that look off, and why should I care what others thought? (By the way, I don’t know when “middle-aged” starts, but I don’t think I’m there yet.)
Not even asking how much it cost, I filled out a consent form and returned it to The Guy behind the counter. While waiting for my turn, one of my students’ mother plopped down beside me and declared, “Teachers aren’t supposed to be in places like this!” While I had conferences with her before, and she was always friendly, my first thought was something about how the damn double standard doesn’t limit itself with being a woman. Teachers are held to higher expectation than most other people–deserved or not. I told her what I was doing, and turned in my form to the counter. She was with someone else (boyfriend? husband? friend?) getting a tattoo, even though she probably had 10 tats of her own. I checked out her friend’s unfinished ink, which was way cool, and went with The Guy.
He asked me why I would want to do something so daring. I could hear his words sizzling with sarcasm as he subtly made fun of a silly, 30-something white lady doing something usually reserved for college kids. I told him I was newly divorced and had always wanted one. “I get that a lot,” he told me. “Husbands don’t let their wives get one and then after a divorce they come in.” I sat there stunned. I knew I couldn’t argue with his line of reasoning. My ex-husband had always balked with a nose ring on his wife. Had he “not let me” do something? I wasn’t showing him, or anyone else, my defiance now. And I had always thought I was simply being considerate to his opinions before.
How The Guy understood my reason was sadly too close to the truth. Divorce certainly changed me. I am the only one making decisions for my house hold now, which can be both good and bad. But I wasn’t showing other people my independence. I just decided that I don’t care what other people think. I got my nose ring for me. I let too many fun opportunities go before.
Not this time.
I decided that I was going to start not caring what others thought then and there. I wasn’t going to argue with The Guy who owned the tattoo place, insightful or not. I showed my older sister (who still plays that role) my pretty little glitter on my nose the next day and she liked it. I went back to work the next week trying not to be obnoxious with how much I loved it. I’m good with it.
So this taught me a few lessons. 1) Don’t judge people’s worth by what they look like, such as tattoo parlor owners and teachers. 2) Take the opportunities when they present themselves. 3) By doing things against conformity I am conforming. I joined the ex-wives-with-nose-rings club.
I wonder if there’s a club for sky diving around here.