In the days of antiquity and, in fact, right up into the Middle Ages, women used their ears only for hearing and, when involved in a debate with their husbands, not even that. It remained for a mendacious but resourceful princess to change that notion for good.
Princess Elizabeth (No, not that Princess Elizabeth or that one either. This was well before their times.) was a willful young lady whom her father could barely control. When she came of age, she was married to one of the king’s courtiers, Sir Eddie.
At first, Princess Liz, as she preferred to be called, was well enough content with her marriage, but, before too long, Sir Eddie’s very presence began to chafe. Her solution was to sneak off to points unknown and marry Sir Nicky, while she was still married to Sir Eddie. Then, one fine day, after a spat with poor Nicky, she ran off and got hitched to Sir Richard. She now found herself married to three different men at the same time.
“I know I’m sounding overly optimistic, like a Polly-Andrea,” she assured her ladies-in-waiting, “but I’m certain this will all work itself out in the end.”
One immediate problem she faced, which had the potential to make her dalliances known to Sir Eddie, was that she had faithfully promised to keep Sir Nicky’s ring, and then Sir Richard’s ring with her always.
Princess Liz quickly devised a solution to that problem, though. She had promised the two of them she would keep their respective rings always about her person, but she never said about where. Her first instinct was to hide them in a place that received no sunlight whatsoever. That was all right in terms of keeping the objects out of the suspicious Sir Eddie’s sight, but it was somewhat discomforting to the princess, and, whenever she suffered a bout of peristalsis, she was forced into the rather unpleasant task of having to retrieve them.
Then things began to go haywire in a hurry. Sir Eddie, now convinced of his wife’s faithlessness, relocated her from the bed chamber to the torture chamber.
“Who is he?” the angry knight demanded to know. “Talk,” he went on to elaborate as he shook an ice pick in front of her face, “or I swear I shall use this!”
“I tell you,” Liz told him, “there is nobody else. I have been as faithful to you as a geyser!”
“Very well, you give me no choice,” Sir Eddie snarled. With no remorse and very little effort, he ran the heretofore merely menacing ice pick through both the lady’s earlobes. “That shall learn you,” Sir Eddie, whose schooling left something to be desired, gloated.
“I’m still not talking!” his wife defied him.
“Oh, the heck with it,” her husband sighed.
Everything seemed to be going wrong for poor Princess Liz. She still did not have a good place to put her second and third husbands’ wedding rings, and, now, her grouchy first husband had mutilated her.
“What ever shall I do?” she wondered. She knew she was going to have to use great care, for the more aggressive town criers, known as the “yakkarazzi,” were beginning to suspect something in the way of a juicy story was afoot. Then the inspiration hit her like a beanbag (a common occurrence in those days).
Moments later, she left the royal blacksmith’s office, holding the two formerly hidden rings tightly. Into each one, the smithy had made a cut to break the circles. Her next step was to insert the now-broken rings into the ear holes her husband had graciously provided her with.
“Oh my, what is this?” Lady Debbie sneered as she beheld the princess’s ridiculous adornment. “Rings in the ear? Ha!”
“Hold thy tongue!” hissed Lady Marilyn. “They are rings in the princess’s ear. Get it?”
Within a fortnight every lady in the kingdom who could afford the price, wore her own set of rings in her ears. Within another, every lady of breeding in the world sported a pair. And they have never looked back since.