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The Kindness of Strangers

There is no better body mod than that which signifies an event, experience, or the beginning and/or end of one of life's chapters. Whether it's a vertical clitoral hood piercing to assert independence after an abusive relationship, a tattoo because you've finally moved out of home or even just a standard lobe piercing to celebrate the end of high school, it doesn't matter. The important thing is that this body mod provides a permanent reminder, whether explicitly or implicitly, that you were there, that you did this, that this happened to you. It was with this train of thought that I found myself at A Tiki Tattoo studio in Waikiki, intending to commemorate my ten day jaunt in a foreign country with a perfectly positioned 16ga lower helix piercing.

I had reservations about A Tiki Tattoo after one of the staff members told me to simply buy the jewellery from Hot Topic because "it was cheaper ". However, as my brief stint as a guest of the United States was drawing to a close, I still really wanted the piercing and I had not been able to find a better studio in downtown Waikiki. Additionally, A Tiki Tattoo looked clean, was a member of the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) and I, hopefully, assumed that their poor retail skills were not a reflection of their needle wielding acumen. Deep down though, I had a bad feeling about it all.

So after a nutritious dinner of IHOP pancakes, I headed along Kuhio Avenue, a mixture of fear and maple syrup coursing through my veins. I met A Tiki's piercer for the evening, an older lady who seemed very friendly; she complimented me on my dress, was fascinated by my Australian accent and asked me about koalas and kangaroos. After she ran through the typical piercing spiel, albeit briefly, I selected a 16ga circular barbell and paid. I followed the piercer around to the piercing room in the back and sat in the pseudo dental chair, happy to be finally putting my rapidly rising adrenaline to good use. Unfortunately however, I was never going to make use of that wonderful little aforementioned chemical release.

Once I'd sat in the chair, the piercer immediately asked me if I was ready and began approaching me with the needle. I informed her that no, I actually wanted to check the piercing placement before the sharp metal object went through my ear. This was apparently an unusual request and the piercer immediately became annoyed with me, especially when I took more than a few minutes to decide on the exact positioning. It was then that I changed my mind. As much as I desperately wanted the piercing, I didn't want it in the wrong position; even a few millimetres can make the difference between perfection and complete disaster, something that is exacerbated in the case of Obsessive Compulsives and the anal retentive.

After this change of heart, the piercer's entire demeanour transformed completely and she became angry and aggressive, muttering under her breath and refusing to look at me- it would have been almost humorous if it hadn't been me who was subjected to this Cold War tantrum. She informed me that I'd have to pay a five dollar set up fee, slammed my credit card down on the counter top and stated "here's your refund". After this, she refused to speak to me at all, even though I repeatedly, and unnecessarily, apologised about changing my mind. Walking back to my hotel, I realised just how thankful I was that I not let Comrade Piercer stab me with a needle.

I continued to feel thankful about this change of heart one month later, when I went with a friend to a reputable piercing studio, Polymorph, in Sydney's inner west. Unlike my American piercing endeavour, this time I had a good feeling and, as such, was finally able to put my adrenal glands to good use. The staff at Polymorph were friendly and knowledgeable, explaining in detail about how to look after and clean the new piercing, what to expect during the healing process as well as helping me to choose the most appropriate jewellery. Most significantly however was that they were exceedingly patient and gave me as much time as I needed to ensure that my soon to be piercing was in exactly the right position. It's now been over a year and I still have the piercing and, most importantly, I'm still perfectly happy with it.

Blanche Dubois suggested that we should "always depend on the kindness of strangers" and whilst that may have worked well for Tennessee William's tragic protagonist, it doesn't fare quite so well in the post modern, non-literary world of the twenty first century. As this little inter-continental piercing tale has shown, when it comes to body modifications, you should always depend upon your own instincts and not on the kindness of strangers, especially strangers brandishing hollow needles and piercing licences.

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submitted by: Kitty_Fantastico
on: 28 Sept. 2008
in Ear Piercing

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Studio: A+Tiki+Tattoo%2FPolymorph
Location: Waikiki%2C+Hawaii%2FSydney%2C+Australia

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