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Helix Pierce (Where'd My Bead Go?)

ond piercing experience was much less traumatic than the first (navel that didn't heal well), mainly because I now knew what to expect. My bestest friend Fallen and I were wandering the Haight in the early December evening because I'd gotten a hair up my ass and decided I wanted a helix piercing. I'd researched it, I'd thought about it, and I wasn't going to be talked out of it. He drags me into a particular shop "because it's got the coolest fucking name" and we fight our way past S&M clothing displays, neon raver wigs and a rack of bumper stickers all employing the word "fuck". I wander back to the back corner where there is a counter holding a bazillion pieces of piercing jewelry and a door to the back rooms. I take a peek inside and check out the areas (a cool name is no match for an autoclave, IMHO)...sterile, separate, individually packaged everything...looks good to me. I get the attention of the guy behind the counter and tell him what I want. He reaches under the counter and pulls out a consent form and a display box of captive bead rings of all sizes. Some of the largest were made of neon acrylic and were of such a large diameter I don't think I could have fit one in my ear canal, let alone an initial piercing (now I know about scalpeling, ah well). Down at the other end of the spectrum was one little 16 ga. silver ring with a black bead. It wasn't puny, but it was of a cute smallness. It inspired the kind of "awwww" feeling you get when you see a kitten, a veritable lil' baby ring. "That one is perfect" I said, pointing at it. I could almost hear the baby ring purr in happiness at being adopted. He took the ring off to be autoclaved and instructed me to fight my way back to the cash register at the front of the store to pay. I waded through the crowd of angry young adulthood to the front and slapped down $27. I expected the surly girl behind the counter to stamp or sign my consent form to verify my payment, but instead she punched a hole in it. I chuckled at the appropriateness of this as I struggled to the back once again. Fallen and I leafed through books of anime-style tattoos while I waited for my turn. The idea of having Sailor Moon permanently embossed on my body scares me, but to each his or her own. Finally my name was called and I ducked behind the counter into the labyrinth of rooms in the bowels of the shop. I was led past several chairs, many filled with people in various stages of puncturing or tattooing (which I suppose is technically also puncturing), to another room in the back. (My own private room. El skore!) I flop in the chair while a young man with various pieces of facial jewelry swabbed my ear and poked it with a new felt-tip pen. "That where you want it?" "Perfect-o," I said. I watched everything coming out of the packages and being gooped and being laid out on sterile pads, and realized how amazingly relaxed I felt compared to the last time. I kept reminding myself of the gagging experience to keep my ego from getting too high. I left my eyes open as the needle went through this time, savoring the experience. It burned a little, like a carpet-chafe, but nothing I'd count as "hurting". The young man turned back to his equipment table to get the ring and I looked in the mirror at my ear with a long needle sticking through it, a cork jauntily impaled on one end. I was tempted to say "forget the ring, I'll wear it like this, this is great!" but figured it was probably against policy. Not to mention it would be a major pain to clean. He popped the end of the ring into the non-corked end of the needle, and -zip-, my ear was threaded with surgical steel. Nifty! As he popped in the bead and tightened the ring, I mused aloud, "You know, none of these piercings I've had have hurt, while the ones I got with a piercing gun stung like hell." He laughed. "Well, the guns just fire the piercing stud through your ear, whereas the needle punctures the skin instead of tearing it. I mean, they say the piercing studs are pointed, but they're not really. It's like shoving a ballpoint pen tip through your ear." He proceeded to clean the ink and goo off my ear and handed me a care sheet while he told me what was on it. Keep it clean, rotate it, etc etc. "I also recommend swabbing it with saline, it helps it heal faster." He pointed at a spray-can of saline rinse for contact lenses on the shelf. I laughed. "You know, I never thought of using that stuff, but it seems so obvious." He nodded. "It's hard to make that eye-ear connection. Make sure you use the aerosol kind, and not the squeeze bottle, because those have a hard time keeping the contents sterile." I gathered my things and headed out, pleased with my gag-lessness. The next day, I woke up and yelled. Sometime in the night the bead had been jostled out of the too-loose ring and had vanished into my bed. I searched for about 45 minutes before realizing I was trying to find a black bead the size of a gnat turd in a bed with black sheets and a black comforter. Besides this, it was a waterbed, which means it could have rolled down between the mattress and liner in any spot along the edge, and could now be buried under an extremely heavy sack of water. And besides that, I was late for work. Muttering curses under my breath, I dressed and took off. A beadless captive ring + long hair = trouble. The open ends were perpetually catching in my hair and yanking on the fresh wound every time I turned my head, causing slight bleeding, medium soreness and major annoyance. I scoured the web and the yellow pages to find a piercing store near my work, and found only one. It opened at noon, so I figured I would take a late lunch and head over and get a new bead. Problem solved. I spent 30 minutes fighting unlabeled streets and psychotic bay area drivers to finally stand outside the shop. Closed. The hours posted on the door said they opened at noon, yet it was almost 2 PM and the place was dark and locked. I clenched my fists, contemplating the cathartic benefits of having a temper tantrum on the doorstep, but decided to just go back to work instead. I was worn out, defeated, and sore. My only glimmer of hope was that I knew there was a piercing place near where I lived, surely they could help me after work. "What do you mean, you can't help me?" I must have heard that wrong. I looked at the phone. "Well, we don't have a reseller's license, so we can't sell you any jewelry without a piercing." I hung up and sighed bleakly. There were no other places in town, and I didn't know of any outside San Francisco except the place that did my navel ring...hey! I looked up the number of Tattoos Unlimited. It was only a 30 minute drive away..."Hey! Can you guys sell me a captive bead ring?" "Of course we can, this is a piercing place! Why couldn't we?" I chuckled and told them about the last place I called. "What a load of horseshit! They have to have a reseller's license to operate the business...they were just trying to charge you for a piercing too. C'mon in, we'll get you fixed up." Approximately 40 minutes later (cursing the hidden location of "Main" Street) I once again set foot in the front room. Dirty Harry himself was behind the counter, looking identical to the last time I saw him. "Help!" I said, pointing at my ear. "I have a bead that went AWOL." He laughed and pulled a box of beads from under the counter. "Pick one." I sorted through the beads until I found one that looked identical to the lost original. I hopped back into the chair with the familiarity of one whole past visit, and the bead was set in a matter of moments. I headed back out to the front to pay as a clot of high school girls wandered in. "Uhmmmm, I like, got my navel pierced and the bead, like, fell OUT or something! Can you, like, buh-LEEVE it?!" Harry shook his head. "What is this, 'lose your damn bead day'?! You didn't get this done here," and he pulled out the box of beads again and handed it to the girl, then turned to me. "Did you get yours done here? You're familiar..." "Not this one," I said. "I got my navel done here." He nodded with satisfaction. "How much do I owe you?" He held up a hand. "No charge, just promise me something." I nodded. "Next time, get your piercings done here, cause our beads DON'T GODDAMMIT FALL OUT!" The high school girls squeaked and jumped at the yelling and I laughed. "All right, you've got a deal...see you on the next one!" Compared to my navel, my ear healed like a dream. It was sore for a few days due to the tugging of my hair, but by the end of the first week it was painless and had stopped crusting completely. I kept cleaning it with Dial Antibacterial and saline solution, and it healed beautifully. I wouldn't recommend people away from Anubis Warpus, since it is very clean and professional, albeit the front is a bit hectic...just if you do go, stick to barbells! ;)

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 19 Aug. 1999
in Ear Piercing

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Studio: Anubis+Warpus
Location: San+Francisco

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