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Mark and I have been good friends since 1987, Mark's second and my third year at Camp Encore/Coda (a music camp in Sweden, Maine). But the incident that made us "best friends" (if I can say that) was when we went together to get our ears pierced at camp.
It all started when Mark came up to me and said, "Hey, Todd, I want to get my ear pierced."
"Cool," I said. "When are you getting it done?"
"I don't know."
"When you do, tell me and I'll do it with you."
"By the way," I continued, "my parents wanted to know if you'd like to come with us on Parents' Visiting Weekend when we go to North Conway?"
"Yeah, I'd love to. . . Wait, there's a mall in North Conway that has an earring shop in it."
"Yeah! I noticed it when we played there last weekend with the jazz band."
At the store that weekend the lady got the earring equipment (the special chair, the gun, the rubbing alcohol, and the cotton swabs), as Mark and I looked for the earrings of our choice. We decided on our respective birthstones for studs.
When the lady saw that we were ready, she blurted out, "Who goes first?"
Mark said, "I will since it was my idea." That was fine by me.
At that moment, my parents walked by the store. Using quick thinking, I whipped around and pretended to be searching for earrings for my girlfriend, Nancy. Mark was totally oblivious to the dangers in the mall. But soon the threat passed.
"Does it hurt?" I asked when I saw that he was finished.
"It's only a pinch," Mark replied, with an expression of total euphoria on his face, especially in his eyes.
"OK, here I go," I said.
Mark was right. It didn't hurt a bit; only a pinch. After we left the earring shop, Mark and I walked (actually ran) down the mall, chatting away about our venture.
Probably the best part of the afternoon was when, five minutes before re-entering camp, Mark said, "Mrs. Sheldrick?"
"Yes, Mark?" my mom said.
"Todd and I got our ears pierced."
"Uh, yup," I said in my best Maine accent, as I awaited her response.
"You what?" she barked.
"We got our ears pierced, Mom."
"Well, you'd better keep them clean," she said.
To my surprise, that was the extent of our conversation about our earrings on the ride back to camp.
At about 10 o'clock that night, after all the parents had left camp and Mark and I had finished showing off our new trophies of triumph over parent control, we met together on the porch of his cabin.
"Well," Mark said, "we did it!"
"Yeah, we did," I said, still dazed from the afternoon's excursion.
"What's next?" he then asked.
"I don't know."
"How about a nose ring, and then we can get the two of them connected and then . . ."
"Mark!" I hollered. "One appendage a year, please."
"OK. But I still think a nose ring would look good. Don't you?"
It's two months later now, and as far as I know Mark still has his earring. He called me the other day to say that he was sending me six or seven single exotic earrings. Perhaps the package will come today. Ah! Here's the mailman now. n