Sunday, January 10, 2016

Three (3)

When I was still teaching, some 40 years ago, I had my ear pierced. I did it during the summer because when you have a new piercing, you cannot take the earring out for a month.

I wanted to wear an earring but in those days, my career as a teacher caused me to have to be careful about any kind of behavior that would label me as some kind of subversive. It could cost me my job!

At that time, earrings on a man was a newer phenomenon and was suspect. It probably meant he was Gay. If he wasn't Gay then he was a hippy, or lived some kind of alternative life style or smoked pot and therefore was suspect none-the-less.

Supposedly if the left ear was pierced it meant he was the active sexual partner (the pitcher,) and if the right ear was pierced it meant he was the passive sexual partner (the catcher.)

Fast forward to my 50th birthday. By then I had retired from teaching, was wearing my earring all the time. I wanted a second one in the same ear. The first "hole" was high on the ear (done so the "hole" would not be apparent to students and other teachers in the classroom while I was not wearing the earring in school.)

I chose to have the second one in the regular location of the ear lobe. While I was happy with two earrings, it caused a controversy. Was there to much space between the two earrings or was it OK.

I asked a number of friends what they thought and the votes were evenly distributed. Some thought it looked just right and others thought they were too far apart. That raised the question, was two earrings enough or should I have a third piercing in between the two existing "holes?"

I hesitated and just couldn't decide, two or three? 2 or 3? II or III? What to do, what to do. Looking back, I am not sure why it was such a difficult decision but for some reason it was.

Now I need to digress in the story. I had been to New Orleans a number of times and really love the city. Once I went with Gregory but most often I went alone, on those "solitary vacations" that he and I used to take. We vacationed together often but now and then ventured off solo. New York, San Francisco, Mexico, New Orleans.

While in New Orleans one year, I went into a Voodoo shop and decided to have my "fortune" told for $20.00. The psychic's name was Ilene and for the most part her comments were very accurate.

I didn't tell her anything but she seemed to know a lot about me. I was a teacher, a writer, had a male lover, etc. Her description of what was important to me in life was accurate. And her predictions for the future seemed within reason.

Over the next several years, when in New Orleans, I would visit Ilene, we became friends of sorts, and we would go out to dinner after my readings. Eventually she left New Orleans walking to safety after Hurricane Katrina. We have since lost touch.

At our last reading, which lasted close to two hours, she used several decks of cards to guide her comments. She was amazed that so many "threes" came up. The number three stands for ambivalence and indecision but, as she explained, not inability to decide but rather that I had a hard time deciding because "I wanted it all!"

For example I had a hard time deciding between buying "A" or buying "B" because I wanted both "A" AND "B." Visiting "A" or "B" because I wanted to visit both "A" AND "B." etc.

That helped me decide on getting another earring. With three earrings I would be reminded why I sometimes had difficulties making decisions. And it did describe me to a "T." That is the way I live my life, sometimes unconsciously and sometimes on purpose. I want it all!

So the number three not only represents the number of earrings in my left ear, the reason I have trouble making decisions at times, but also has become my favorite, lucky number.

• • •

As an aside, in the Japanese art of flower arranging, odd numbers of objects are the most pleasing. When possible my curated arrangements are in threes and I like to collect things in threes: like 3 bakelite buttons or 3 Chinese figurines or 3 matching Christmas ornaments.


  1. As best I remember it was the 80s when 'Left is Right and Right is Wrong' distinguished who was straight. When I typed that phrase into google just now, I was directed to political leanings particularly that of Alan Colmes.

    On an elevator in Macy's some 35 years ago, my neighbors 5 y.o. daughter asked me, "Will you have my ears pierced?" "Absolutely not," I snapped. "It's a barbaric custom and your ears would probably rot off." The woman behind us started laughing, "I can't wait to get home and tell my sister-in-law what I just heard." I failed to ask her which side she was on.

    Triplets in music and landscaping are pleasing to the ear and the eye. Personally in landscaping I prefer 15 or 33 or some other triadic multiple en masse.

  2. Hi Jean. For girls I think ear piercing was a different story:-) In my family it was a coming of age and not to be done until you were fun high school. While I talked about triplets, the rule is probably any odd number of items in an arrangement is more pleasing than an even number. For me, three is still the magic number!


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