The Rise and Fall of a 10 Gauge Stretch
I remember when I went. It was an adventure; I'd never been to a tattoo place before, and although I lived in DC all of my life, I'd never explored DuPont Circle with such a goal.
Fatty's Custom Tattooz seemed a lifetime away. By the time I'd found it, I was getting a little nervous. After crossing the threshold, my stomach began to do little cartwheels, and I was glad I brought two friends along. Now, this part is funny to me; before entering, I tried to compose myself, turning my nervous walk into a comfortable stride, planning to waltz right in. The current standard lobe piercings were my mother's idea when I was an infant, albeit a little stretched now from the pulling and tugging of other babies throughout my life. I was a part of the body modification scene entirely by fantasy; my future self cooler than I could ever hope to be. I tried commanding my face muscles to relax, to take on the calm, slightly bored expression that made it look as though I belonged here. We opened the door.
I managed a stumble-free walk to the counter, and I am guessing it was because the counter wasn't far from the entrance. I was greeted by the main piercer, a bald, friendly-looking man who looked in his early thirties. Before I could stop myself, I felt my face break into the geekiest grin I've ever achieved as I asked for a stretch and some proper jewelry. He happily obliged, and I couldn't tell whether or not he was having fun at my expense.
After I paid for the procedure ($10 for the stretch and $35 for the jewelry (which was ridiculously out of my budget)), sat me on a chair that reminded me of those at the doctor's. My friends sat a little ways away, and we chatted about our future body mods. Dani wanted her navel done, Winston was a tattoo guy, and I couldn't wait for my two tongue piercings. (I still can't wait.)
Soon after he entered, and began explaining the procedure to me. I watched him closely as I had been taught to do, noticing he slid on powder blue latex gloves and he took a taper from its sterile wrapper. "It's 14 gauge, you holes look pretty big, so we'll start from there." He lubricated the metal and slid it in.
It promptly slid straight through to the other side. He probably could've thrown it through my lobe hole like a javelin; life had stretched the holes so much, and I felt I was lucky for that, since I skipped so many levels of stretching. We tried again, going up a gauge, and I noticed more with his face close to mine. He had holes in his face, and lots of them; two on his lap where "snakebites" would be located, a labret hole in his chin, a few more in his eyebrows, and one in his nose. They were well healed, but they were all empty, and I wondered why. If you work at a piercing place, as the main piercer no less, shouldn't you be able to wear all of your jewelry? I concluded that he must have had a good reason for choosing not to.
Finally, at 10ga, I felt a hard pinch in my left ear, and I knew I could go no further. He left me there with the taper dangling awkwardly, the painful pinch never quite fading. I was unabashedly exhilarated. I knew that part of the process of modifying was going through the pain, and this was the first time I'd ever inflicted pain on myself for the purpose of my beautification. Making such a simple choice about my body was freeing, to say the least.
I felt rather than saw him slide the ring section of a captive bead ring into each hole. By now the pinch was ignorable. I thanked him, he gave me his card, and we all chatted some more. I found that he would not be there much longer, that he was "tired of the east coast," and that if I ever came back to DC, my home, I'd have to find someone else to for all my exhilarating piercing needs. (Great.)
I kept the bead rings in for a month. I loved them, they were thick circles of steel, and I felt the start of a new addiction. It didn't last forever though, and that's all my fault. I read somewhere that I was supposed to let my stretches "breathe," removing the jewelry every once in a while to allow my skin to heal. I also hated touching my ears by then, because The Crusties had started to accumulate and my hand would reach my nose with the smell of body cheese. It was pretty gross.
Trying to remove the beads had been an ordeal indeed. The metal did not want to bend, and after using some wire pinchers, I heard the little metal balls drop to the floor, after which I spent about ten minutes looking for them. Now I had two almost-circles in my ear with just enough space to slip my lobe into to put them in and remove them. This worked for a bit.
After I while though, the almost-circles started to fall out. Sometimes I'd hear it, sometimes not. Sometimes someone would notice some glittering metal on the ground and see that nearby I had its match in my ear. Each moment was a wave of panic as I frantically searched for my new loves. It was always followed by a soft rain of relief, where I would place the little ring into my pocket, and hope that I could fish it out my skinny jeans later.
My luck couldn't last forever though, and one day, I lost one. The right one, because my right ear was always looser than 10, and was probably ready for an 8. I didn't notice until it was much too late; it was nowhere in my dorm room here in Georgia, and I had been all over the city that day...it could be anywhere, and it was gone forever.
I took the left one out after that. I felt off without the other half of the pair, and I didn't want to lose that one too. My holes shrunk significantly, and when I tried to reinsert the ring on a whim, my ear protested so loudly that its shriek broke my heart in two.
My first goal was, and still is to get up to 00 gauge, and it's most likely not the end. I miss my stretches so much. I ogle endlessly at the beautiful jewelry made of stone and wood on many websites, trying to picture myself in the sizes they offer. I am waiting now, for another chance. I know this is a journey, I learned that I must be patient. I will do this again, and I will invest in some trusty horseshoe bars.
submitted by: louella_bme_anon
on: 27 Jan. 2013
in Standard Earlobe Piercing