Merle Norman…

I wasn’t privy to the decisions about ear-piercing when Lisa was alive.  No, she was the one who made that decision.

Although she was Presbyterian and believed in baptism at birth, that was not her view on pierced ears.  There would not be a Tanner kid with piercings until at least a decade of their life had passed.  She thought it made them look too grown up.

When she was nine, DJ nagged her mom for a year for the lobe holes until finally, Lisa and her gaggle of women friends decided that ten was in and the countdown began.

I’m not sure how these moms came about that decision, but they unveiled their calendar as if they were the Misses Manners of preteen etiquette.  Not only did they determine the appropriate age for piercing, they also informed all involved as to the appropriate age for a Facebook page (12) and the point when a cell phone was needed (the start of middle school).  No one dared ask for an exception.  The Mother Mafia had spoken.  I believe they actually signed a treaty with one another and apparently a full on embargo would be imposed on anyone straying from the agreement.

When it was time for DJ to get her ears punctured, Lisa drove her to Crabtree Valley Mall and met another mother/daughter pair at the entrance to Merle Norman.  That is where Lisa had her ears pierced approximately 25 years prior.

DJ desperately wanted to wear earrings, but she also desperately did not want a hole punched in her ear.  She apparently sat on the piercing stool three times, chickening out as Merle approached with the lobe stapler.  Finally, Merle had had enough and kicked her out of the store.  DJ then threw the most massive temper tantrum my wife had ever seen right at the main entrance to Belk.  Lisa literally carried our ten-year old to the car and locked the doors because DJ threatened to jump out of the minivan and run back into the mall.

Stephanie’s journey toward earring mecca was very different.  She turned ten four months after Lisa died.  She reminded me that DJ got her ears pierced at age ten and asked if she could too.

I actually thought it was a law in Raleigh, and I didn’t want to break the treaty – so the two of us hit the mall quickly.  It was four months after Lisa’s death.

Sweet Stephanie was so excited!  Her father was so very, very sad.  As she patiently waited looking at her barren lobes for the last time in their handheld mirror, I fought back tears.  It was one of the first milestones I had tackled by myself.  What father takes his daughter, alone, to have her ears pierced?

I suggested the silver balls; her mother only wore silver.  She agreed.  There were tears that June night, but not from the kid.

Well today it was Michelle’s turn.  I had avoided the subject because I knew the costumer in A Christmas Carol frowned upon jewelry in the play.

“There were no piercings in 19th century England!” she announced last year as a warning to those who were bejeweled.

But when one of her best friend’s moms inquired about a joint trip to see Merle, I just couldn’t turn her down.   It’s sort of a rite of passage – one that can’t be denied.  So now my baby girl has her ears pierced.

I’m beginning to see something different in my daughters.  No longer are they 100% kid.  Now I see glimpses of young women.

I wish Lisa could see what I see – the slight changes coming month by month by month.

I will take it all in for her.

Leave a comment


  1. Mel Ham

     /  October 31, 2012

    Sweet, funny brave T bird. It’s a rite of passage. Good that you are keeping that tradition and laws of adolescence in line. You could get your ears pierced and equipped with rings to hold car keys and wallets. You would never lose them then.

  2. Nonie

     /  October 31, 2012

    Thanks for the boost of confidence in my Mom skills this morning Bruce. I also made Sally wait until 10 for pierced ears and middle school for a phone. If Lisa said it, I know it was right.

  3. Mom

     /  October 31, 2012

    Good idea, Mel. This did bring some tears from me. A bitter sweet time for us all.

  4. Sweet and sad. Good job, Dad.

  5. Susan Disher

     /  October 31, 2012

    Rest assured…Lisa sees it…

  6. Aunt Susan

     /  October 31, 2012

    Wow! I think Mel is on to something!!!!! when are you going to do it?

  7. EKB

     /  November 1, 2012

    I got my ears pierced at Merle Norman, too. I don’t remember why we went there but I’m betting it’s because that’s where Lisa had hers done.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  November 1, 2012

      It may have been the only place in town that did it back then!

      • CHall

         /  November 2, 2012

        Be glad there’s a nice place like Merle Norman to take care of ear piercings. Back in the dark ages, a dorm neighbor did mine right after I’d finished my last exam of spring semester in my freshman year. I nearly fainted when I saw that loooong needle in her hand. My parents had a fit when they saw my “mutilated” ears.

  8. My sister died last November, she had 3 beautiful children. Her older daughter was in orchestra and had a concert a couple weeks after her mom’s death. I remember sitting in the audience with her brother and sister in the dark before the show started, tears silently rolling down my cheeks. My sister, despite being a single mother, was at every recital, every game, every school play. For the 7 months I took care of her children after her death, I had a lot of these moments. Little times when it was hard not to think, “your mom should be here for this”.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  November 16, 2012

      I’ve shed tears in every public venue you could ever imagine. Stay as close as you can – the aunts and uncles, although no longer living with us, are still very important in my kids’ lives. We are very lucky to have them.


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