Piercings and Tattoos

1986. The first earring. Where it all began and where at one point I was ahead of the piercing curve. I had seen guys on MTV with earings, and there may have been 2 or 3 guys who had one in my highschool of 800 students, but definately no one I knew and no one in any of my classes or on my track team had one. So when I got this, it was a big whoop-de-do. This was back in the day when if you got an earing, the rule was "Left is right, and right is wrong". The rule being for straight men, meaning that if you got it in your left ear, it was correct for your sexual persuasion, if you got it in the right, you were grouping yourself in with the non-straight population. Mine was in the left, but it was purley by luck as I never heard that rule until sometime later. It was a silver stud earring and was pierced with the gun at the jewelery shop.

    Mom: had to sign for it as I was 14. My mom felt it was my decision and if I wanted to do it, I should be allowed, but I had to take and handle whatever reactions came, and that included those of my dad.

    Dad: Well, I hid it from dad for over a week. Sounds impossible, but I went to bed early, hung out more in my room, and walked with the right side of my head towards him. As you know, you cant take a new piercing out for several weeks. Finally, one morning he sat down on the left side of me at the table, and I turned and looked at the wall behind me, presenting the right side of my head towards him. He looked at the wall to see what I was looking at. What are you looking at? Mom chimes in with "just show him already". I turn, dad sees it, and doesnt eat the cereal he poured. Rather, he says "I do not approve", goes upstairs, gets his breifcase, and leaves. He was pretty unhappy. I went to school, told my friends and decided to take it out. Dad came home and we had a talk where he said that if it was something I really wanted to do, I could have it in. I told him if it really made him unhappy, then I'd keep it out.

1987. So I said to my dad "I was toying with the idea of thinking about maybe possibly getting my ear peirced again". "Oh yeah?". "Yeah." I threw in the "maybe possibly" in to that phrase although I was pretty sure about it, and said it more as a statement than a question, as in my mind the year-old statement of "if you really want it you can have it" still applied. I had changed schools to Pennsylvania. Again, guys with earings were pretty uncommon. I really wanted to get one again. Dropping the hint was my way of "asking" dad this time. So I got it and all was groovy.

    Mom and Dad: No real reaction.

1988. Then other guys started getting earings. I had nothing to do with the trend, it was just catching on. But I'd be darned if they were going to steal some of my individuality. So a few short months after the 87 piercing, I got my ear double pierced. Some girls in the highschool were doing it, but I had never seen a guy do it. I felt truly ahead of the piercing curve.

    Mom and dad: shake their heads, but dont say much.

1989. So now people are on my style again. Doubles are popping up, so I go for the 3rd.

    Mom: Says nothing.

    Dad: sees it and says "how many holes do you have now?". 3. Ok, well, no more. Obviously, the "if you want it, its fine with me" comment had numerical limits.

1989. My friend Ryan gets a 3rd, and just to spite him and be funny, I get the 4th. I take out the second piercing while at home during healing of the new one, making it look like I only have 3. This one was short lived, perhaps only 6 to 9 months.

    Dad: Either foiled by the removed 2nd, or didnt mind.

    Mom: Didnt notice either?

1991. I had taken to just wearing 2 most of the time, but had grown bored. I decided to get the other side pierced. I was about on par with the piercing curve on this one. My friend Chuck had done it a month earlier, and I had seen a few people with it, but even as late as early 1993, I had people make comments that it was unusual to see guys with both ears pierced.

    Mom: objected to this one, "What is that?" "Its an earing, you dont like it?". "You look like you're gay". It took me by surprise that mom didnt like it.

    Dad: really didnt say anything at all. Perhaps he had his shock quota already.

1992. I was down on South Street with some co workers when we walked by a piercing shop. One of the girls said she wanted to look at getting an upper ear piercing. I told her if she did it, I would too. So we did. Pierced with the gun.

    Mom and dad: past the point of being shocked, say nothing.
Sometime about 1995 I became disgusted with all the people now wearing earings. Both sides, double holes, the works. I took out all my earings with the exception of just this one.

1995. After a long break in piercing, I decide to get a tattoo. Always wanted at least one. I drew it myself, a design that had a significance to it. Had it put on the ankle. I was at school when it was done, and showed the parents when I came home from school.

    Dad: Sigh

    Mom: "Oh, a tattoo. Great, now when everything is going wrong in your life, you can look down and say 'at least I have a tattoo' ". Strange comment, but mom and I had a talk about it later, and she didnt mind it too much.

1996. I got a good job working at an internet company, in a corporate environment. It was casual, so I could wear an earing or perhaps 2. But I couldnt have anything really weird that was going to show. So when I had a conversation with a piercer who needed a car and I mentioned I had a cheap beater car, we made a deal to swap the car for a tongue piercing. Again, I push slightly ahead of the piercing curve. At least for mainstream people. Few people at work knew that I had it and they were all shocked. It was, at that time, quite uncommon if you werent a raver. I was only 50% raver, so half my friends thought it was normal, the other half, outlandish. The girl I was dating was not a raver, in fact she was quite conventional. I called her up that night.

"Hey, I goth rid of that old cahr"
      "Really, how much did you sell it for"
"I trhaded it forh a tong pierthing."
      "No you didnt".
"Yeth, I did".
      "Well, either it goes or I go".
"Well, the tong pierthing ith sthaying, you do wath you wanth."

That was that. After it healed and I could speak again, I went home for the weekend to visit the parents and showed them.

    Mom: "thats nice, where do you want to go to dinner tonight?". (however, a couple days later, a comment was made that usually only homeless people and drug addicts get tongue piercings.)
    Dad: "thats nice, hows work going?"
I was dissapointed at the fact that I'd lost the ability to shock my parents. So I pulled out a curve ball, with this true story. My brother was never very interested in getting his ear pierced. I did that stuff, and he wasnt in to it. Once he hit college, he decided to get his ear pierced. I was a little shocked, surpised, and.... proud. Then he went to college in London. We kept in touch over email. I email him the next day after the tongue piercing.
"Guess what I did yesterday".
      "Ok, but you have to guess what I did yesterday"
"I got my tongue pierced"
      "Me too"
"No way!!"
      "What time did you do it?"
"About 8pm"
      "I did mine about 9pm?"
"I beat you"
      "Not with the time difference"

Damn. Beat by the guy who was late on the earing curve. So, yeah, my brother got his 6 hours before me. Same day, different continents, with no clue either had plans for it. I never would have expected it from him, and my plans just came about due to needing to get rid of my car. I told this story to my parents as Al was in the UK.

    Mom: "Some mothers' children propose to their girlfriends on the same day, or get married on the same day, my children get their tongues pierced on the same day". Thus are the Rickert boys.

Theres a ton of information on tongue piercings on the internet if you want it, but I'll answer my most common questions here.

    1) Did it hurt? No, it didnt hurt really. Yes, I know it hurts when you bite your tongue, it hurts when I bite mine too. It wasnt painful, but it was awkward feeling.

    1a) Dont lie. Im not lying.

    1b) But it did hurt the next day and the 41 days following that. A pierced tongue is supposed to swell for 1 or 2 weeks. Mine swelled for 42 days. It was painful for the first 1 week of that, and just plain annoying after that. I put all my food in a blender. I ate mostly beef vegatable soups, as I could blend it in to a paste, dilute it with water, heat it up, and get a full balanced meal, easily drinkable. I then got creative with my blender concoctions. Cereal. Fruit shakes. Everything, even Pizza. My roommates ordered pizza just to piss me off, so I grabbed a piece, put it in the blender, added water and drank it.

    2) How do they do it? First, in case you didnt know, there are 3 separate parts to the tongue ring: 2 small balls, and a bar which can be screwed inside the balls, like nuts and bolts. They grab your tongue with a pliers that has a hole in the end of the 2 pinchers. They then put a needle through these holes, going through your tongue inbetween (this needle is about the lenght of a sewing needle, but thicker, as the inside is hollow). They take the pliers off, then put the bar through the hollow needle (while its still in your tongue) from the underside of your tongue, with a ball attached at the bottom. They can now take the needle out, pulling it out the top, the bar is still in there, and they screw the other ball on the top. Done.

    3) Does it get in your way when you eat? No.

    4) Does it bother you to have it in there? I dont even know its there 99% of the time. It only feels weird when its out, which is only at the dentist.

    2002. I had a string of jobs that wouldnt really work with any new piercings. Then I started traveling, and got my tragus pierced. I had liked this piercing since I saw someone with it in college. I went to a tattoo/piercing shop with a guy I met traveling who was pierced and tattoo'd head to toe. He had to go make a payment on a tattoo he had. I said I was always thinking about getting one of those. He said "you dont think about it, either you do it or you dont." So I did it. They pierce this with a straight needle, then pull that out, so they can put the round hoop through. Obviously, trying to fit a curved object through a straight hole requires some digging. It took over a minute of digging to try to get it through. At one point, being in pain, I asked for the guy to take a break for just a minute. His reply was "no whining!" as he kept digging. Way more painful than the tongue.

    2003. I had wanted to get a second tattoo for a while, but was in no rush. To be honest, I really never thought I would I would do it. I had sort of decided on a sun in the middle of my back. But I didnt want the center of the sun blank, and I didnt want a face or a yin-yang. But what to get. Then I traveled through Guatemala, and fell in love with the mayan drawings, and the calendar happens to be circular. However, it happens to be large. I took it to about 12 places asking if they could scale it down, as I didnt want it that big. Finally I found a guy that would do it, who I trusted to do it right. 5 hours work time, and what he said was the most detailed tattoo he'd ever done.

    2003. While in one of the tattoo shops, I was looking at magazines. I saw someone who had a piercing that was a hoop connected to a rod. It looked cool. I searched the world, literaly, for 5 months before I found one of these in Berlin. I wanted to get it from my rook to my conch. Hoop through the rook, bar through the inner conch. I was told it will take up to 18 weeks for that to heal, and in the meantime I would have to wear (and buy) 2 other piercings to go in there. It was about $100 they wanted to charge for this. I bought the jewelry and said I'd think about it. I looked up some photos on BMEzine.com to try to see what other ways this could be worn. I found a picture of it worn from the helix to the outer conch. I liked it, and found a place in Prague to do it for about $15. And it should take a lot less time to heal.

    2004. The hexil-conch piercing never really healed. It was always sore and made sleeping tough. Perhaps because I was in and out of the ocean so much at that time. All the same I took it out.

    So, as of May 2004, I wear only the tongue ring, the tragus piercing in the right ear.

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