By Alyssa from Reno, NV

About five years ago, I remember that I started to become interested in body piercing. For me, it seemed like a more viable option than a tattoo. I decided that a good place to start would be to get my tongue pierced. I researched it like crazy, and even created a Power-Point presentation (I’m a nerd) for my mom so she would be on-board with my decision as well.

The next day, I grabbed my boyfriend and went to the best piercing parlor in my area, which happened to be Black Hole Body Piercing in Reno, NV. As I walked through the front door, I remember feeling butterflies in my stomach because this was my first “real” piercing. However, the atmosphere of the shop calmed me down slightly. It was quite the home-like environment, with a carpeted reception area decked out with an out-of-commission fireplace and comfy-looking sofas to lounge on. Jewelry displays lined an area near the back, transitioning into the sterile piercing rooms just behind a bright fabric curtain. The only difference between this place and someone’s house (besides the piercing rooms) was the smell of complete sterility, like a hospital. All in all, it was an inviting shop that looked like it knew it’s stuff about body piercing.

I was met by a person behind the jewelry displays, where I filled out the necessary information to obtain my tongue piercing; I also received an APP aftercare guide and a baggie of sea salt. I was delighted to be able to pick out my own ends for the internally-threaded steel barbell (green dental-grade acrylic balls by Industrial Strength). After waiting for a few minutes, I was called back to a piercing room. I was to be pierced by Nick (an awesome guy who no longer works at Black Hole, unfortunately), and he started to prep my tongue and the jewelry after I sat down on a hospital-style bench covered in paper, detailing aftercare instructions as he went. I remember my boyfriend making a comment about a moveable light in the room (the swivel kind they have in dentist’s offices to help see into your mouth), and how we could use it for a frontal lobotomy on me, to which Nicked laughed. I then rinsed with mouthwash, and my tongue was marked. After checking the placement in both a mirror and with my boyfriend, I was told to lie down on the bench.

At this point, the butterflies in my stomach felt like they were trying out for the circus, doing somersaults and flips all over the place. As my tongue was clamped, I reached for my boyfriend’s hand. As Nicked placed the needle on my tongue, he told me to breathe in slowly, and then out again. I was surprised at how much to piercing itself did not hurt. It was more of a dull ache rather than the pinching feeling that some people get. Nick inserted the jewelry, screwed the balls on, and suddenly the piercing was done. I sat up (being careful not to give myself a head-rush) and checked out my new tongue piercing in the mirror. In the end, I thanked Nick and tipped him for doing an awesome job and turned to go with my boyfriend. At that moment, Nick said, “Oh, wait! We forgot your frontal lobotomy!”

Since then, my tongue has healed just fine, with the lisp-inducing swelling lasting for about a week and a half. In the last two-three years, I have also stretched it from the initial 12 gauge to my current size of 2 gauge, with a goal of 0 gauge in the future.