Too old for this

too-old-for-this-lauren-liptonI’m not keen to confess the following, but the story won’t work otherwise, so here goes: I have a body piercing. I acquired it during my first summer in New York. I was 30, already too mature for rebellious body modification. But at the time I was deep into the kind of extended fractious period one is supposed to go through in one’s teens. My rebellion involved not just the cross-country move but also a divorce, a new boyfriend and, of course, the navel ring. All the iconoclasts were wearing them that year.

It was small, gold and tasteful, perfect for an only sort-of-rebel: I liked it because nobody knew I had it. Then, a few years in, my boyfriend became my husband, and I got pregnant. You’re officially too old for a piercing, I thought, as I stashed it in a box next to the ring from my first marriage, when the thing is dangling off your pregnant belly.

But after I gave birth, I missed my navel ring. Why should I have to give it up? Who said I was too old?

So I put it back in. It stayed. Eventually, I forgot it was even there. My rebellions got even tamer—like, on occasion I’d have two diet sodas in one day or blow off a PTA meeting.

But last year, my left hip started aching, and I had to get an MRI. Did you know that when you get an MRI, you have to remove any metal piercings, lest the machine’s magnetic force rip them from your body? As I stood in my hospital gown, pulling out the navel ring, I had the following epiphany: You’re too old for a piercing when you have to take it out because you’re getting an MRI of your hip.

The belly button ring stayed out. My hip got better. I started doing yoga regularly to keep it that way. Yoga is an activity that attracts a lot of body-modified people. Everyone in there has tattooed feet or an OM tramp stamp. I was feeling woefully underadorned when I remembered: Hey, I have a pierced belly button! Plus, by then I had turned the diamond from Marriage Number One into a charm I secretly thought would look awesome, in a Britney Spears kind of way, as a navel ornament.

But when it came time to put in the diamond charm-accented belly ring, I could not get it through the tiny hole in my navel. Was I doing something wrong? I Googled “how do I put in my belly button ring?” and ended up watching an adorable Millennial demonstrate the technique. I kept wondering wheither her mother approved of all her piercings, and then I thought, You’re too old for a navel ring when you are old enough to have given birth to the teen in the YouTube demo.

But it wasn’t that I was too old. I was simply too farsighted. I remedied the problem, got the navel ring in, and am now the proud wearer of a diamond navel charm none of you will ever see. And just because I had to put on my reading glasses to do it, does not—I repeat, does not—make me too old.

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