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Holy tongue piercing, Batman!

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I live in a smallish (ok, so it's not tiny) town called Wenatchee,

Washington. If you squint really hard, you might be able to find the place I speak of on a Washington state map just to the east of the Cascades, surrounded nearly completely by mountains. It seems the mountains are here to hold in the squeamish and Republican. But anyway... about my piercing.

I'm a senior in high school and as a result of hanging around with

the more liberal crowd during the past four years or so, I've become increasingly interested in piercing and tattoos. A year ago (March 1998), I got my first non-ear piercing (my others consisted, at the time, of three outer conch and two lobe per ear) in my right eyebrow. We won't go into that, because it really wasn't that big of a deal to me. Poke, blood, bam. This past January, I had my right conch pierced by the same man that pierced my eyebrow, in the bathroom of the same apartment, with a little more blood and a little more screaming. I couldn't believe how badly that hurt! Conch piercings are not for the weak of stomach, folks. So when it came tax-return time and I found myself thinking about getting my tongue pierced, I was a tad wary.

I had been thinking about the tongue piercing for probably about as

long as I'd had my eyebrow pierced so when I finally (sort of) had the go from my mom and had the money to do it, I started making an official plan to get it done. The "where" part was obvious... No way was I going to have my tongue pierced in someone's apartment. I went to Tribal Planet in downtown Wenatchee and made an appointment with the lovely Ilka Ballinger to have my licker poked on the evening of April 13th (my 13th piercing, even). I spent the afternoon before the piercing appointment worrying about eating, talking, etc., but never questioning my motives for the piercing. I'm a firm believer in hedonism: if it feels good, then by all means do it. My friends for the most part were supportive and thought it was, in the words of Russell, "Phat!". So after school that day, I collected my friend Rayana (who already had her tongue pierced, also by Ilka) and we had my mom drop us off in town. Poor mom... I think she's just baffled by the whole piercing thing. She doesn't understand how addictive it can be. After wrestling with the ATM and goofing around in the toy store til my 5:30 appointment, I was beginning to get a bit nervous. But we went on to the shop...

I walked in, and heard the tattoo gun in the background. Ilka's

husband, Doc, is the best tattoo artist in this whole valley in my opinion. He does beautiful work, and anyone who's had a tattoo by him will vouch for that. But anyway, the noise is something I distinctly remember because it made start shaking a bit. A couple of Ilka's friends were hanging around in the lobby (one of whom I think was an apprentice), and so I waved and stuck my head in to look for Ilka. I knew her a bit because the guy that'd done my other piercings used to be an apprentice, so I was very comfortable being in the shop (which I frequent for jewelry and browsing anyway) and as comfortable with her. It never hurts to have seen some of your piercer's work, I think. I know Ilka's got pictures and whatnot, because she took a pic of my conch when she changed my barbell for me. Just ask, maybe the one poking you will have a similar collection. Anyway, I said hi and had a seat for a minute. And then she poked her head into the lobby and beckoned in a mock-sinister fashion, indicating that she was ready. I bit my lip, looked at my friend, and walked in. I was starting to get spooked.

I had been in the piercing room before, so I knew where the autoclave

was and knew for a fact that it worked. She motioned for me to sit in the piercing chair, which always reminds me of a dentist chair for some reason. I was told to take off my sweatshirt, and bibbed. The sink was to my right, and she had already poured me a teeny paper cup of Listerine and had me rinse after she washed her hands and put on her gloves. So I rinsed and started breathing. She nodded and smiled when she noticed that I knew the routine, and got the clamp ready while I took another couple of minutes to sit and calm down. Rayana had come in from the lobby and was watching the prep, but as soon as Ilka marked my tongue and put the clamp on, that girl was out of there like a bat out of hell and hollered, "It doesn't hurt, Holly!" from the lobby in support. So far, she was right. The clamp was no big deal at all. Ilka held up a mirror and showed me the mark on my clamped tongue, and I smiled the best I could and gave a thumbs up. I was ready.

I closed my eyes when I saw her pick up the needle, pre-loaded with

my 14 g, 7/8 barbell, and took a couple more deep breaths. I was ready... I recall thinking about the big pinwheel in front of the toy store when I felt her picking up the clamp from where it was hanging against my chin, forcing myself to think, "Red, yellow, blue, green, purple." I felt a pinch and my eyes snapped open, more in disbelief that that was the only pain than anything else, and she removed the clamp. "Don't put your tongue in," she warned me, and screwed on the ball. I was given the go ahead, and leaned to the sink to spit out a mouthful of blood, noticing that it couldn't quite get it to sit right in my mouth. What a weird feeling! I didn't think it would ever quit bleeding... I kept rinsing and rinsing til it was finally under control, and took off the bib myself so Ilka wouldn't have to touch my blood. I don't know when, but I bled something fierce on that bib. Saved my Depeche Mode tee shirt, for sure. I was shaking like crazy, but I threw the bib in the biohazard container she has under the counter, next to the sharps container for discarded needles (which she immediately chucked mine into, just before she took off her gloves). I walked into the lobby, stuck the bloody thing out at Rayana, and smiled as I caught my reflection in a mirror near the cash register. Ilka rang me up at 40 bucks, just under the normal charge of 45 (I'm guessing because I've been a customer there on three or four previous occassions), and reminded me about aftercare. She offered me the sheet, but I already knew the drill so I told her not to worry about it and that I'd be back if I had questions. So we called Rayana's boyfriend and he came and picked us up.

What a first impression... I'd never met Jerry before, and here I was

climbing into his car with a bloody mouth and a lisp to say hello. Rayana asked him to please take us to Safeway to get Listerine and Icees (sort of like the Slurpees at 7-11), and that he did. Then on to their house for a couple hours of worrying that I would never talk normal again,etc.

I got home and showed my mom and brother and sister... Mom says, "Oh

god, you really did it. Oh well..." and is over it. My brother, who is just 11 months younger than me, asked me five hundred questions and said it looked cool and that he wanted one too. My sister... well, she did what she usually does. Having this done apparently made me more stupid and whatnot in her eyes. She's 23 and knows everything, apparently. So I stuck it out at her and mumbled obscenities the next morning when she was still whining about it. My dad just saw it this past weekend, hours before my sister's wedding reception, and was surprisingly calm about it. He lives with us, but is completely oblivious most of the time... "That's SICK!" he said, and dropped it. I was relieved.

The healing process for me seemed like it should have gone faster

from what I've read and heard. It stayed pretty swollen for three or four days, to the point where I couldn't eat anything but ice and soup (although I was dumb enough to go out for Mexican food the second day I had it and get nearly sick because of the pain), and then the left side of it kept hurting for another week and a half. I almost took it out, but I went and talked to Ilka instead, and she said not to worry about it. She'd just gotten her second tongue piercing done and showed me, which immediately made me forget the pain and start planning for my second.

A month later, the piercing is perfectly fine.  I eat whatever I want

to, take it out and clean the funk off the bottom ball in the morning, and my speech is perfect again. I still have the original jewelry in it, though I did have a shorter one for about a day. I was disappointed in the short one, though, because I've grown quite fond of playing with it. My boss still doesn't know it's pierced, although I've shown nearly everyone at work (with much approval). Really, no one has reacted badly to it the way people did when I got my eyebrow and conch done. Not so many questions , and not nearly as much disapproval from the older generation. I guess it's sort of expected that I'm going to put weird things in my body now, so they don't react much. Fine by me, because I've got plans for more. But don't tell my dad!

Feel free to email me with questions and whatnot... I love to hear other people's stories, too! Peace, everyone.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 15 June 1999
in Tongue Piercing

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