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Dear Abby: I would like to know what the fascination is with putting plugs in one’s earlobes. I have seen some as large as half-dollar coins. What does the person do if he regrets having done this to his ears? Can the holes be surgically closed?

– Unpierced in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dear Unpierced: I spoke to James Wisniewski of the Body Electric Tattoo piercing studio in Los Angeles. He told me that, as with any type of body modification, the ear plugs are a matter of personal taste.

The process is referred to as “stretching,” and James has had his earlobes this way for the past 14 years. He says he is asked about the procedure on a daily basis. He is attracted to it for the aesthetics. The modification is a gradual process, with larger jewelry being inserted as the hole becomes larger.

James recommends consulting a plastic surgeon if someone decides to have the hole closed because new tissue is grown as a result of the earlobe stretching. The extra skin may have to be removed in the same way as after a major weight loss.

Uncomfortable question

Dear Abby: What is the correct response when asked at a doctor’s office if you drink? I drink socially, maybe once a month. Should I say yes? If I do, I’m afraid it will imply that I drink more often.

I always end up feeling awkward and like I need to explain myself. I’m pretty proud telling them I don’t smoke or do drugs, but the alcohol question always gets me. What do other people who drink on occasion usually say?

– Filling Out the Forms in Ohio

Dear Filling: In my doctor’s office I was asked that question, and my response was, “Yes, OCCASIONALLY.” At that point, the follow-up question was, “How many drinks do you have a week?” Because this particular question makes you uncomfortable, mention to your physician that you indulge in alcohol only about once a month – which is practically negligible.

Your barber or your friend?

Dear Abby: I’ve had the same barber for several years and he’s a good friend. While he was on vacation, I used another barber in the shop for a cut. I really like how he cut my hair. How can I change barbers without causing hurt feelings?

– Lookin’ Good in the Midwest

Dear Lookin’ Good: Barbers are human like everyone else. If you announce that you want to make a change, there probably will be hurt feelings. The question you must ask yourself is, is your relationship with your barber/friend such a close one that you’re willing to tolerate continuing to patronize him even though you think someone else can do a better job. (Now THAT’S friendship!)