When I was 5 years old, I screamed and punched my mom in the arm when a doctor tried to give me a finger prick (“tried” being the operative word).
While I now usually refrain from screaming in doctors’ offices and my mom has mostly gotten over this traumatic experience, I still hate needles. Which is why it was especially confusing when, two months ago, in the back of a tattoo parlor, I allowed someone to stick a needle through my nose and replace the hole with a small sparkle.
When I got back to my apartment and looked in the mirror I didn’t especially love or hate my new nose piercing, but I did wonder: Why did I do it??
My first answer was everyone told me I should. Which, I know, is an excellent reason to do anything. Having embarked on a year studying abroad in Madrid, I had just met a new group of people, and one day at lunch a friend told me, “You would look so cute with a nose piercing.”
A chorus of “Oh, yeah you would!” joined in, and at first I was flattered but then the encouragement seemed too enthusiastic. Like maybe I had a very dull face and everyone I knew back home had been too nice to tell me, and a glittery speck on my nose would be the missing piece needed to make it shine.
Also, I thought, maybe I owed it to the world to get a nose piercing, like people who can pull off short hair-cuts or bangs or turtlenecks owe it to the world to wear them. I texted both of my sisters to ask what they thought and was met with equal gusto, so the seed was firmly planted in my mind.
I would also like to take a second to interlude with another question: Why did the piercer do it? Besides the fact that I paid him and asked him to, why does any piercer enjoy pushing needles through people’s skin? It’s creepy.
My piercer, ironically named Angél, drew a marker dot toward the bottom of my nose, then asked me to go look in the mirror to see if I liked it. Having no idea what I was doing, I looked briefly and then shrugged my approval like a toddler being asked about the state of the stock market.
Angél disinfected the needle and whatnot and then started bringing the needle toward my face. In a moment I can only compare to how Indiana Jones must have felt when he slid under the descending stone door just seconds before it could crush him, I asked Angél to stop for a second. Instead, he hurtled forward and soon my left eye was converted into a mini Niagara Falls and a million bees stung my nose at the same time.
Granted, Angél spoke only fluent Spanish and I spoke only crappy Spanish so it could have been a miscommunication, but I’m pretty sure he was ~*evil*~ (or just very tired of study abroad students coming into his class tattoo parlor in giggling throngs, asking for piercings and then chickening out at the last second).
Buuut I’m pretty sure I saw a neck tattoo that said “666” in red letters, and on his name tag he had crossed out the first part of his name, “Fallen.”
Anyway. The second reason I willingly let someone inflict harm to my face was because I was studying abroad! “Spain!” I thought. “When else?? “You only live once,” I probably thought, but I hope not.
Despite the fact that every girl that studies abroad gets her nose pierced and I’ve never been someone to do something everyone else is doing (and not in a cool, hipster way — instead of the popular Croc shoes I stomped around my elementary school in bright blue off-brand Airwalks), I powered forward with my decision.
A group of seven friends and I went and we all got something pierced, so the atmosphere was *festive*. We were feeling nostalgic because the first semester was coming to a close, and nostalgia is manipulative evolutionary defect that makes you look backwards rather than forwards at the repercussions of what you’re about to do.
The encouragement of friends and the feeling that there’s no time like the present made for the perfect nose-piercing cocktail, so bada bing bada boom, and you already know the rest.
So in spite of my aversion to pointy things that draw blood, in addition to my longtime resistance to trends, I probably let Lucifer himself stick my nose with a needle in the name of Spain, premature nostalgia and the hope that it would transform me into some exotic unicorn of a person.
Really, nothing has changed except that I now have a tiny sparkle on my left nostril. Do I regret it? Not really, because I can always take it out, and now I have a daily reminder to question my own decisions. Plus, when the sun shines I now sparkle like a beautiful vampire so mission accomplished.