Once a porcupine went in for body piercing in a big way. What with tattoos becoming so common they were just another fashion fad, piercing, or better still, full-body mutilation struck the porcupine as the only way left to show you could boast true image-cred. You had to wear the scars of your boldness like a badge of honor if you expected to command respect among your peers and a secret envy in all those who wanted to be just like you when they grew up. Its own inner porcupine was not the comically rotund figure the general public thought they saw. No, deep within this plump body was true awesomeness straining to be seen. In a world where nothing short of “extreme experience” was taken seriously as real living anymore, the porcupine meant to show all those who believed a nose or eyebrow ring or multiple tongue studs or even tribal earplugs the size of hubcaps equaled “a walk on the wild side” that entire continents of unimagined body-statements remained to be explored. It meant to show these pikers what real piercing was, and it meant to do that by taking the gutsy step of turning its quills unflinchingly on itself. Carrying out the plan was easier said than done, the porcupine knew. Simply mutilating yourself willy-nilly or in haste would not do. Each quill must find its destined spot in a pattern of inspired bravura. Then there was the difficulty of actually bending the stiff spines backwards and inwards. After many failed attempts, the porcupine resorted to simply tearing quills out in clumps and driving them back into the aching flesh from which they’d just been ripped. The excruciating jolt to be felt as they penetrated its flesh, the sensation of almost passing out from the pain, of not passing out, then almost passing out again, gave the porcupine the hypnotic, pulsing sense it was really pushing the limits of triumphant self-expression. Unfortunately, this exhilaration didn’t last. The porcupine found it needed to twist the quills in deeper and deeper, seeking greater and greater laceration, to feel confident it would command all the respect and secret envy due such a gutsy performance. Ultimately all of the porcupine’s quills had to be used in this striving to reveal the depths of its awesome self. When all was finished, there it waited to be admired: a bristling, twitching mass so covered with spiny excess and open wounds it was impossible to tell exactly what it might be. “Looks like roadkill to me,” was the most frequent reaction from passersby.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans