Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color


We all agreed, first food then the piercing. After we ate our sushi picnic among the pigeons, Daniel, a recent Ph.D., Sara, an ex-student of ours, Royce, a husky-malamute mix, and I, set off for the piercing shop.
Daniel asked, “Who should go first?”
Sara was anxious. “I don’t like needles.”
I asked her, “Would you prefer to go first, last, or second?”
“Not first. It’s not the pain I’m worried about. Just the needle.”
Daniel didn’t seem to care.
Like Sara, I wasn’t worried about the pain, but unlike her, I wasn’t afraid of needles.
I’m not a ditherer. I volunteered to go first.
As I’d expected, the pain was too short-lived to impress me.
The one thing that bothered me was the sound of the needle going through the cartilage. It seemed to go on for an eternity.
Before the brain surgeries, a nurse friend mentioned that I might be kept awake during the operation. I imagined a gloved finger pressing here to watch my leg jerk, and there to see my elbow bend.
She added, “It won’t hurt.”
It hadn’t occurred to me to worry about the pain. My concern was about the sound and smell of the surgeon cutting through my skull.
When I was growing up in Israel, dentists didn’t use Novocaine on their patients. Visits to the dentist’s office were not my favorite passtimes. The pain was certainly a concern when the she approached with her implements of torture. But I feared the shriek of the drill and the smell of burning much more.
I shook my head when my ex-student, Sara, asked whether the piercing had hurt. “Only for a short bit. It was the sound of that got to me.” and I shuddered.