Tell me if I am wrong, please.

I was ordering lunch at one of those pizza-and-panini places. The girl behind the counter was very polite, but I couldn't help but notice two things: first, the labyrinth of tattoos up her arms; and more than that, the three rings pierced to her bottom lip.

I have long since gotten used to excessive tattooing (I don't understand it, but I accept it) but I found the lip rings to be totally unappetizing, even gross, especially within the context of ordering food.

I know the rings, like the tattoos, are someone's idea of making a statement but this statement seemed totally unsanitary – for her, if not necessarily for me. It just doesn't seem healthy to have foreign objects dangling from lips. If she had been working the check-out line at a grocery I would not have minded, but not taking orders in a restaurant.

I will concede that I might be all wrong about this and that I am guilty of cultural bias. I don't want to be like those people who, in the early years of the Beatles, would not accept the band's music because the musicians' hair was too long. And, who knows, maybe one day scientists at the Mayo clinic will discover that rings on lips are good for the digestive system. Until advised otherwise, however, I just see the rings as germ- laden body mutilation.

Maybe I am wrong though. I just hope if the girl behind the counter gets free pizza, she remembers to wipe the cheese off her rings.