"You got another friend request," my wife said, sitting in front of the computer the other night.
I peeked around the doorway of the kitchen, where I was doctoring a pot of chili. "Who is it?" Since finally deciding to indulge in the Facebook community, I've dreamt about recieving friend requests from Stephen King or Clint Eastwood or Gene Simmons from KISS -- somebody really famous -- although, for some reason, that hasn't happened yet.
"Some girl," she answered. "An Alexandrious Skabrenenski."
Intrigued, I put the chili on low heat. Walking into the living room, I peered over Joyce's shoulder. The request claimed that we had eight mutual friends. Looking at the tiny roll of faces, I recognized all eight as fellow horror writers, all well-respected and of sterling character. When we share that many friends, I usually okay the request without question. "Go ahead and confirm it," I told her.
My wife wasn't so quick to act, though. "Maybe we should check her out first." When we pulled up Alexandrious's page, we saw her profile photo a bit more clearly. She was a ravishing beauty with an unruly mane of golden Farrah Faucett hair and an ample bosom that would have put Dolly Parton to shame. Her eyes were partially closed and her lips in mid-sigh, as though in the throes of passion... or dozing off. It was hard to tell which.
"Why, she can't be a day over 22," Joyce said. "Why would she want to be your friend?"
I had to admit, pretty girls requesting to be my friend was an unlikely occurance (the rare exception being my wife, God bless her!) Then an idea came to mind. "Maybe she saw me at a convention and admired my virile manliness from afar."
The look on Joyce's face told me that she didn't believe that for a second.
Suddenly, I figured out what was going on. "You don't think she's one of those piercing gals, do you?"
"Well, there's only one way to find out." Joyce pulled up her profile. At first it seemed to be legit. She even claimed to have attended a Christian college in Iowa ( although I had a difficult time believing there was actually an Alexandrious Skebrenenski enroled in the Iowa educational system.) Then my wife positioned the cursor over the photograph and the caption magically appeared.
"Hi. My name is Alexandrious. I got a new piercing today, but I can't show it to you here. Please log onto Blah-Blah-Blah.com for a better look. You must be 18 years old or older to register."
I can't say that I was surprised. I'd recieved a couple of other dubious requests a few days earlier, one from a woman in Indonesia and another from a young lady in Peru. Each one had extended the exact same invitation, word for word, and all had sported exotic names and photos.
I hate to admit it, but I couldn't help but ask. "I wonder where... you know... her piercings are?"
"I'll give you two guesses," Joyce said. "And you'd probably be right on both counts."
Annoyed with my indecision, she asked "Refuse and block?" For a second, I was certain that I detected a tiny hint of jealousy in her eyes. Maybe she was peeved because she had never recieved her own piercing-viewing invitation from strange men with intriguing names like Studdly McNuggets or Antonio Testosteroni.
I gave her the safest -- and most diplomatic -- answer possible. "Refuse and block." Which she did at lightning speed.
I could see how such an unwanted -- but enticing -- spam request might appeal to a middle-aged man on the downhill side of fifty. It was an unexpected boost to the male ego to recieve a friend request from a scantly-clad twenty-something girl from a strange and exotic land (well, Iowa could be strange and exotic, if you use your imagination). But, being the church-going fella and devoted husband I am, I simply gritted my teeth, averted my eyes, and declared "Get thee behind me, devil woman who jingle-jangles like a cowboy's spurs on a grueling cattle drive!"
Still, those lude invitations have made me wonder about the whole piercing scene and exactly what the appeal of it is. Not that I'm totally ignorant to such acts of self-expression as tattooing and body piercing. I've come across certain individuals on the job who were walking advertisements for such indulgences. I've seen multiple piercings in ears, noses, and eyebrows. Several guys I've worked with actually had tongue studs, which would seem like a terribly painful ordeal. One giant of a fellow had a golden stud on his tongue roughly the size of a golf ball (or so it seemed to me). I've never actually inquired about the purpose of a tongue stud... although, from the sly grins on their faces, I could very well imagine what it would be. I even came across a rather weird dude who liked to be pierced beneath his shoulder blades by giant fish hooks and suspended from the ceiling. I never knew if he was pulling my leg or not, but knowing him, he was probably on the up-and-up.
Out of curiosity, I Googled "body piercing jewelry" the other day and was amazed at the variety of doo-dads you could purchase. Studs, rings, chains... you name it, they've got it in their inventory. You can even get charms, like those on a charm bracelet. Little cheerleading megaphones, your high school graduation year, and tiny baby shoes complete with birthstone. I'd say they would be right popular with some distant relatives in the Kelly family tree. "Look, y'all... I've got a golden fooler hanging from my right nostril in commemoration of little Bubba's first birthday!" (In case you don't know what a "fooler" is, its a southern expression for a baby pacifier.)
Personally, I suppose I can see justification in tattoos over piercings. Tats can be a doggone work of art if done right. I've even seem Alex McVey's blue werewolf painting -- which graces the cover of my upcoming book, Undertaker's Moon -- turned into a pretty cool-looking tattoo. Of course there are disadvantages. With age, tats can stretch and distort, turning into a fleshy version of a Salvadore Dali painting. I've witnessed enough sixty year old grandmothers with lower back tattoos in Wal-Mart to know that for a fact.
Truthfully, I don't mean to intentionally poke fun at folks with body piercings. Maybe I'm just a little old-fashioned or just blissfully ignorant of the true motivation behind the whole body piercing phenomenon. The way I see it, if God had intended for us to have extra holes in our bodies, He would have put them there Himself. But, hey, if folks want to hang ornaments from themselves like a dad-gum Christmas tree, that's their business, not mine.