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My Navel Piercing

at you could call a stereotypical "good kid." I make decent grades, avoid trouble, don't drink much, never smoked, and haven't touched drugs, so my mother was somewhat amused when I told her I wanted to get my belly button pierced. "Is this like that whole wanting to run away and join the circus thing?" she laughed, "you grew outta that one!" But this time I meant it. I'm not sure exactly how my obsession (that's really the only word to describe it) with getting pierced started, but I did know that this was just one of those things that would consume my mind until I did it. So I decided to begin with some research, it's always good to know what you're getting into. I checked online and with friends that had various body parts pierced and found out that basically you must go to a reputable place to have it done, to make sure your piercer follows sanitary procedures such as using a sterilized new needle, and finally to realize that pain, in some instances a lot of it, is to be expected. A bit intimidated by the pain factor (my tolerance level is almost non-existent) I hesitantly continued investigating. After hearing only positive references, I finally mustered my courage and decided to get it done by Richie at Alternative Arts Tattoo. He's had 8 years experience with tattooing, 4 years piercing, and an excellent track record. So now armed with information, a place, and a piercer, I was ready. I was ready, but my mother, now realizing I was serious, wasn't. First she just tried to talk me out of it, but seeing the futility of that she made a fatal mistake. She called my bluff. "Okay then, if you want to get your belly-button pierced I will too," she said. Unfortunately for her, it didn't work. "Great! Then we'll match!" I replied. So there we were at 8:30 on a Wednesday night standing in front of a tattoo parlor seeking adventure. Well, I guess for my mom it was more like finding terror. In fact, she chickened out so fast that it probably broke some kind of record. Richie was nice though; he pretty much took our whole visit in stride. And when my mom finally decided we would leave because she had only brought a credit card with her and Richie only took cash, I think he might have expected it. "We'll be back tomorrow!" I said. "Sure you will," said Richie as we left unpierced, "I'll be here till 9." In a way though, I guess I was relieved. Seeing Alternative Arts had been kind of intimidating to me. It looked like your stereotypical tattoo parlor from the outside (neon lights, bars on the windows, a ton of big-scary looking guys hanging out in the front of the building), but cleaner. Inside it was nice, the walls were covered from floor to ceiling with different tattoo designs, arranged neatly by size and subject there were couches in a waiting area, the rooms looked colorful and comfortable. Glancing past the cash register you could see the brightly-lit piercing room, waiting. But that first vision of the exterior had been enough to create second thoughts. Maybe I wasn't as sure as I had thought I was. So I felt I should sleep on it and decide in the morning. I thought about why I wanted this so badly, I hadn't really been able to explain it to my family or friends, or even to myself before, but that night I figured it out. For me, the whole idea of getting my belly-button pierced had come to represent my independence, a sort of coming of age so to speak, a private form of self expression that others might not understand, but that had somehow now surpassed wanting, had become a necessity to me. Richie was pretty surprised to see us back the next night. "Are you sure sweetie?" he asked. I nodded and he led my mom and me to the piercing room. Richie proceeded to wash his hands, make sure everything was either sterilized or new and ask me once more if I wanted this. Richie told me to hold still while he marked on my stomach where the piercing would go. Then he asked me to breathe in as he put a clamp on the skin surrounding the marks. Next I lay down on what looked like a doctor's examining table. Richie told me to relax and breathe in again, followed by exhaling slowly. I figured he was trying to get me to relax before he used the needle, but when I glanced down, I realized he'd already done it! I looked kind of like a fish caught with a hook, but the most shocking part was I FELT NO PAIN. The clamp in the beginning hadn't exactly been pleasant, but it was bearable. I had expected the needle to hurt but I hadn't even felt it! And then before I could think about it much more, Richie had placed a 14-gauge hematite captive bead ring into my belly and it was done. As I got up, I felt a bit light headed, all that adrenaline rushing about I suppose. So Richie had me lie down for a few more minutes. He had done a great job, the piercing was straight and I hadn't bled or felt pain, such is the advantage of having a good piercer! After I felt better, Richie told me about the after care and said that if I had any questions or problems to come back or call. "Thank you so much!" I said to Richie. "No problem," he replied. My mom had been mysteriously quiet throughout the whole ordeal, but she finally broke her silence. "These pictures are amazing," she said after examining the clippings of Richie's work that were festooned over the walls. "I studied art in college, but I never realized how artistic some tattoos are," she continued. "Yeah, most people never see past the stigma of body art, they only see the bikers and the wild stereotype, but not the art. For me it's a form of expression," said Richie. "Like when I first got mine done, I used to walk with my head down in shame when people stared," he said motioning to his tattoo covered arms, "but now I hold my head high with pride because this is my life, this is my living. It's great, I make just as much as a doctor or lawyer does but enjoy myself twice as much as they ever would!" My mom and I laughed, "That's true!" she said, "So any advice if one of us decides to get a tattoo as well?" "Yeah," said Richie smiling, "always remember that cheap tattoos aren't good, and good tattoos aren't cheap!" As my mom and Richie continued bonding over their discussion on art and tattoos, I pondered my experience. It had been amazing, not only did I get the piercing I had coveted for so long, but I had also discovered that I had totally misjudged the body art community. I had completely bought into the stereotypical idea of "the seedy tattoo parlor" when I had been frightened that first night. Meeting Richie and seeing how people from all walks of life enjoyed body art really made an impression on me, and my mom too. "So now we know where to go next time I get that piercing urge!" I joked to her as we walked out to our car. "Think we should invite Richie over for dinner sometime?" I asked. But she just smiled a knowing grin and I knew that she had learned something from the experience too. "Maybe next time I'll join in," she said, as she examined my newly pierced navel with an artist's eye.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 06 March 2000
in Navel Piercing

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Artist: Richie
Studio: Alternative+Arts+Tattoo
Location: South+Florida

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