Enlarged holes and thicker poles. (Happy Monday.)

I fall in love incredibly easily. Not like, for realsies love though. Because that would involve a certain level of putting myself out there emotionally to another human being that I'm not down with because it sounds really stressful and time-consuming and I'm already behind on two episodes of Real Housewives of New York and I don't have any food in my apartment and blah blah blah there are only so many hours in the day so whooooo—thanks, but no thanks. But falling in love with strangers? I'm a pro at that. Ben from Ace of Cakes? Anthony Bourdain's special effects guy? Michael Showalter? The waiter at Big Hunt with the colorful tattoos and the Kermit the Frog wristband? The bartender at Big Hunt with the ridiculously long beard? Yeah. I'm in a committed, monogamous and deliriously happy relationship with each and every one of them. And they don't even know it. Bless their hearts.

Those men aside, there exists a group of people who I can not physically interact with without falling head over heels, knock-me-over-the-head-with-a-two-by-four, stupid in love with: tattoo artists and body piercers. There. I said it. I was honest. Am I aware that it's childish and stupid? Yes. Do I feel better having admitted it? Slightly.

I don't really know what my hang up here is, but I've fallen in love with every single person to tattoo or pierce me in the history of modifying my body. (Except for the woman who pierced my ears at the Afterthoughts in Lake Forest Mall, circa 1990.) (Although let's not lie, she had a shape to her too...) I'm sure you could make some terribly pseudo-psychoanalytical point here about how you give your body to a tattoo artist and/or body piercer and they penetrate you and it's kind of like sex when you think about it so how could you not be left with some attachment to them? But I'd rather chalk it up to: you're hot and heavily tattooed + I'm into that + now you're touching me = I have a lady boner.

And the physical attractiveness of said tattoo artist/body piercer is a complete non-issue. You could look like a cross between Sloth from The Goonies and Phil Spector and I'd still bang you out six ways from Sunday and buy us monogrammed towels if you've got a needle in your hand.

The very first piercer I ever fell in love with was a young gentleman known as American Dan who had a little piercing stand in an oxygen bar on the boardwalk of Ocean City, Maryland. (Hi. I caught crabs just from typing that sentence.) As is the tradition of Beach Week, I spent the week between the last day of high school and our actual graduation ceremony at Talia's grandparent's beach house in Bethany and we'd frequently go into Ocean City to explore the night life of America's preeminent White Trash Playground.

One night, we decided we'd all head to the boardwalk and get something pierced, as is another grand post-high school, pre-college rebellious tradition. (Except I don't think what I did could technically be defined as "rebellious" as I pussed out and only got my mid-cartilage pierced and called my mom first to make sure it was OK. But, you know, the road to rebellion is paved with small, cubic-zirconia-studded steps.)

Once seated in American Dan's sketchy back office, I immediately fell in love with him. Which is odd because if I remember correctly, American Dan had a Jew-fro and a dick tattoo, but still, there I was—a young girl smitten. He was all I could think about for the remaining week. I was convinced I'd let my one shot at true love with American Dan (god...) slip between my fingers, so when my friend Ali decided to go back a few days later and get her nose pierced, I immediately shotgunned being the supportive friend who got to go with her and hold her hand. It was our last night at the beach and I walked into that oxygen bar (Jesus Christ...) dolled up and ready to make my intentions known.

I had a very concrete plan on how to do this.

Step 1: hold Ali's hand and act incredibly cool. And apparently acting incredibly cool meant lying to American Dan and telling him that I was a 20-year old Sophomore at AU. Which, to be fair, was sort of true. Kind of. If you ignore...most of the truth. American Dan asked me where I hung out in DC and I swear to god I replied, "Well, we hang out in Adams a lot, but that scene is getting kind of played out." "Yeah, I totally know what you mean," American Dan responded. I was mentally peeing my pants. I had no idea where that line came from and I was shocked it actually worked. Because I didn't know shit about DC nightlife when I was 18. On any given weekend night in high school, I was doing one of the following three activities:

1.) Sitting in a booth at the T.G.I. Friday's on Rockville Pike eating a brownie sundae with my girlfriends, shamelessly hitting on male waiters to the point of border-line sexual harassment.

2.) Awkwardly holding a can of Busch Lite and desperately wishing I knew how to talk to the opposite sex at a field party in the middle of bumble fuck nowhere Howard County, Maryland.

3.) Driving around in my friend Billy's SUV getting high, ordering a gross number of apple pies from the McDonald's late night drive-through menu and acting extremely paranoid.

Those three activities were my high school experience in a nutshell. Never did we do anything remotely interesting in the city. So kudos to me for remembering some random shit I must have heard my sister say and being able to get it out with a straight face.

Step 2: Slip a note into American Dan's tip jar when he isn't looking and wait for him to fall in love and call me. What did the note say?

HERE'S A TIP: CALL ME! 301-221-####. - MEG

I wish I were kidding. But I'm just not. And the thing is, I thought I had such fucking game with that line. I sat down with pen and paper for like a solid 30-minutes trying to phrase that perfectly and when I was done I gave myself a high-five and walked around the house thinking I was a sex goddess.

So later that night, sexy note a-burnin' a hole in my pocket, I sat there holding Ali's hand in American Dan's piercing shack waiting for the perfect moment to slip it in his jar. (That's what she said.) (She being me.) (AND HOW!) Now, American Dan's tip jar was located on the counter directly above the drawer where he kept his packets of sterile needles. I waited until American Dan had all of his instruments set up on a tray and had his back turned to clean Ali's nose. Then I seized the moment, folded my note in half and silently slipped it into his tip jar. "SLAM AND DUNK!" I thought to myself.

And then the worst thing that could have possibly happened, happened: right before he pierced Ali's nose, he dropped the needle. I saw that son-of-a-bitch fall to the floor in slow motion and my heart stopped. He couldn't use a dirty needle—he'd have to go back over to the tip jar area to get a new one. Remember the tip jar? That giant glass tip jar I had just put my pathetic little note in? The one you can see into? And the only thing in it was a folded note that wasn't there 30 seconds ago...?

My eyes were as wide as saucers. My breath caught in my throat. "OH SHIT. OH SHIT. MAYBE HE WON'T SEE IT," I thought to myself, "SHOULD I RUN? DO I RUN? I CAN'T LEAVE ALI. OH SHIT. OH GOD. OH SHIT. MAYBE HE WON'T SEE IT?!?!?!?"

American Dan stopped looking through the needle drawer and glanced up at his tip jar with a raised eyebrow. "What's that?" he asked.

"UHHHHHH. UHHHHHHHH....IT'S. NOTHING. I. THAT'S FOR. YOU? NO IT'S NOT. YES IT IS. HI." I not-so-suavely responded.

He reached into the jar, took out my note and started reading it. I thought I was going to explode from embarrassment.

He started to laugh. "Did you leave this for me?" he asked me.


"Does this say, 'Here's a tip: call me'?"

"...................It's a clever play on words. OK. BETTER PEIRCE ALI NOW, HUH??!!"

Oh yes, and Ali. My dear, dear friend. What was she doing at this point? Laughing. Just shamelessly laughing at me and my misfortune and watching me squirm. I can't really blame her though because I would have done the exact same thing. But you better believe the second American Dan was done piercing her, I dropped that girl's hand like third period French and flew out of the room and back into the oxygen bar (Jesus...) like a bat out of hell.

To answer the obvious question, no, American Dan never called me. Not like I'd know what to do even if he had. I had just turned 18 and still felt the need to get my mom's permission before rebelling—I think a sexual rendezvous on the beach with someone with flames tattooed on their dick was kind of ambitious. But it did spark a burning love for tattoo artists/body piercers that is still very much alive today.

A few weeks ago, I decided to go to Jinx Proof with Alex to get my nose re-pierced. I originally got it pierced there when I was a Junior in college and I liked having it. It was small and understated. Jazzy and elegant. But then I moved to New York where I had so many emotions and felt the need to express those emotions by driving a huge gold barbell through my right eyebrow as a statement. When I moved back to DC, I took both piercings out as an act of "IT'S A BRAND NEW CHAPTER OF MY LIFE! NEW DAY! NEW YOU! STARING AT THE BLANK PAGE BEFORE YOU, LOOKING OUT THE DIRTY WINDOW..." etc etc, but I always kind of missed my little nose piercing. And now with not having a job or an office dress code anymore, I figured fuck it! Why not get that puppy back, right?

The second I saw the body piercer at Jinx Proof, I fell in love. He was dreamy and covered in classic American tattoos and-a-tee-hee-hee-hee we talked about the weather and he touched my face and I came in my pants and blah blah blah. I tried to be as sexy as I could, which was incredibly difficult with his finger up my nose and my left eye tearing up uncontrollably in pain. I over-tipped him, ran home to Internet stalk him and I found out via Myspace that he's married to an obviously smokin' hot woman. I then cried, ate an entire cheesecake, danced to Whitney's I'm Every Woman and moved on with my life. It was pretty par for the course for the experience that is me going to get something pierced or tattooed.

But then I starting having some problems. You see, because I got my nose re-pierced in the same exact same location as before, the hole has stretched out a bit and my little gold stud keeps slipping through and I almost lose it every time I wash my face or blow my nose or use a shower with adequate water pressure or apply positive pressure to my cheek in the very least. It's starting to get annoying.

I realize the answer is to simply go back to the shop and ask for a different nose ring, but given how dreamy I find this man and how in love I am, I just can't physically bring myself to walk up to him and say, "Excuse me sir, my hole is stretched out and I think I need a thicker stud to fill it."

I just...can't. It's mortifying to think about. I keep trying to think of a different way to phrase it, but when I think about him and then the word "hole" or the phrase "slipping through" at all, I start giggling uncontrollably like a school girl. Unfortunately both are kind of key in explaining the situation. Sigh.

God damnit. God damn my complete and utter inability to NOT fall in love with tattoo artists/body piercers and god damn how absurdly hard I fall, AND MOST OF ALL—god damn my giant, stretched out, been around the block a few too many times, gaping hole. In my nose.

Thank you.


Ashley @ Ashley Loves Books said...

I fall head over heels in love with any man with glasses reading a book in a bookstore. I don't know what it is...he could have Adrien Brody's nose and Michael Cera's face reading a children's reader and struggling through it and I'd want to bang him.

And you could try to figure out some other way to phrase the problem to him, but it's so much more fun this way!

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Sarah said...

So much to say, so little bladder control.
If it makes you feel better - as a teenager, I tended to be flattered by adult men who flirted with me.

Unknown said...

re: Bartender with a beard - or, Jason Lee in disguise.

His name's Scotty. May or may not have fallen in love with him too.

Beatrice said...

OMG. I totally got my cartilage piereced on the boardwalk of Ocean City during Beach week too!!....while my other friends were way more badass and pierced their bellybuttons :/

I feel like we live parallel lives...I ALSO got my ears first pierced at Lakeforest Mall...MoCo luvv

Anonymous said...

If you're serious about waiter/bartender at the Big Hunt... I can drop a line to him...
- Jess

Anonymous said...

i too fell in love with my eyebrow piecer.. i can't remember his name.. i was 18 and went to Kolo in atlanta's little 5 points and he was really really hot.

Unknown said...

Haaaaahahahahaahahahahaha. Oh my god, I an dying here. Your teenage self rocks

Talia said...

aww American Dan, what a dream boat.. we should go back now and have a REAL convo w/ him about DC.. I wonder if he still works there

Elliot Smilowitz said...

Aaaaaaaand a 2b1b quote is back in my gchat status, after a short hiatus.

maggie said...

omg, i fall randomly in love with people too! like, complete and total strangers who i never say a word to but it doesn't matter cuz in my mind we were made for eachother and would live happily ever after together and it would only be ruined if either one of us opened out mouths…yeah. and even though in reality i'm totally straight, i still fall in love with women in this way about as much as men. interestingggg

also, i think i fall in love with all my piercers (don't have any tattoos yet) because they are automatically infinitely cooler than be just by the fact that they pierce human flesh for their job

Unknown said...

AMERICAN DAN! blomg. forgot about that gemjam. remember when i hit on that guy that worked at J Crew by asking him about his belt selection? and then he did? for like a really long time? we were really cute in HS/college. rully rully cute.

Unknown said...

THIS WAS AWESOME! So many great memories, oh American Dan. Sorry about my shameless laughing, I really did feel your pain at that moment but wasn't sure of any other way to react.

A possible solution to your stretched out nose piercing...get a nose ring. Its a little more edgy but it wont fall out. I had to switch cause I played with my stud too much and it would always fall out and I would lose it.

Cassie said...

OK, so I totally had my nose re-pierced recently, but never had the stretching issue. I used some tea tree oil around the site after it was pierced and it seemed to dry it up enough that it kept it from stretching. I go to www.bodycandy.com for my stuff and it's AWESOME.

I fell in love with my tattoo artist a few tats back and of course, it was the one on my hip... his hand dangerously close to all things happy.

Then after talking for a while, I found out his life history and the fact that he has a few estranged children...not so much. Sigh. It was love for 20 minutes.

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NotablyNeurotic said...

I can't fathom having an extra hole speared through my nose. I get bent out of shape enough when I have a booger in there (not that boogers a frequent problem for me. I'm way classy.) ... kudos to you and your pain tolerance!

I've always fallen head over heels for athletes. They're my cup of tea. Watching a sweaty man grunt and strain all for the sake of moving some kind of ball over some kind of goal line ... Revs my engine. Makes me think of them grunting and straining with me. Wait, that didn't sound sexy at all. You get my point.

Anonymous said...

i always fall for rockers haha like this one guy on a plane to providence.. so hot.. i was a lil prep and he had the mohawk and nose/eyebrow piercings.. it wouldn't have worked out... but i still think about him sometimes..

this post had me like dying on the floor laughing btw!
soo funny!(:

Beth said...

I recently had an extremely interesting experience at my favorite piercing and tattoo parlor. Let me start by saying I have 16 piercings, 15 of which are in my ears (my tragus, forward helix, conch, and rook, along with regular cartilage and lower lobe piercings) and now one little stud chilling in my nose. I've never had the good fortune to have been in love with any of my piercers, unless you count the hot chick with the “Alice in Wonderland” tats that pierced my nose, and let’s face it, she’s only in the running because one guy was a fat asshole and the other one had swords tattooed on his face for sideburns. I recently had to go back to my piercing parlor to have a smaller nose ring put in, and asked to have the piercer on staff put it in. Turns out Swordburns was the piercer on staff, which was fine because he had pierced me twice before and I thought we were down like besties. Let me preface this too by saying when I went and had my nose done, the lady asked if I had been pierced at the place before (me: affirmative) and she asked by whom. I could not remember the blade man’s name, so I tried describing him. Me: Well, he had horns in his forehead? Hot girl piercer: yeah, we have 2 of those …ok, thinking back to some specific information that was discussed when I was there last… Me: his girlfriend likes to beat him up? Hot girl piercer: yeah, that doesn’t help either. Finally, I remember the blades tattooed on his face, because of course that would be a defining characteristic that comes up 3rd when trying to think of ways to describe someone. Hot girl piercer: oooh, J! (I do not for the life of me remember how the conversation with Swordburns veered towards the fact he liked it when his girlfriend beat him up, but I suspect my hipster gauged eared roommate instigated the convo at the parlor; I don’t remember if this was before or after he tried to convince said roommate to come to a suspension party he was hosting….I’m down with body mod, but suspensions make me shiver). Anyway, trying to make conversation with Swordburns, I brought up the fact that I had expected my nose piercing to hurt a lot more when I had it done (all the while he’s fisting my nose and I’m trying not to blow a snot rocket) and that I had sort of looked forward to the pain, because clearly with 16 piercings, I have some, albeit minor, masochistic tendencies. He immediately suggested I look into the BDSM community in town…I sort of stuttered a bit and balked, then conveniently brought up that I was in town visiting, and actually live 100 miles away in another city, thinking whew, dodged the riding crop there. He then gave me a whole lot of advice on how to find clubs and groups to get involved with in my new city, courtesy of google, and just kept going. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I wouldn’t mind a spanking now and then, but I’ll leave the floggers and leather facemasks to the pros. I left the piercing parlor feeling a bit dirty, but when a much prettier stud chilling in my nostril, and a cherished memory with piercer J, the BDSM promoter.

Amanda said...

I really think you need to just date one of these tattoo dudes and get it out of your system! If you really don't want a serious relationship, pick out a total ass who you KNOW will totally screw you over. Then, after he's totally pissed you off, you'll probably be able to move on.

2b1b: The sardonic voice of 20-somethings everywhere, Monday through Friday. said...

If you're serious about waiter/bartender at the Big Hunt... I can drop a line to him...
- Jess


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Anonymous said...


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JB said...

OK, so I spoke to my BF and he said the bartender at BH w/ the beard is totally married. :( I asked about the waiter with tattoos and he'll see - he kept throwing out the names and I don't know their names! I'm working on this though. It's my homework for the month.

- Jess

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Sabrina said...

John pierced me recently, too (cartilage orbital). He was very nice :)

I'm also in love with my tattoo artist. He's done me three times, and I have a fourth lined up. Too bad his wife is gorg.

Courtney said...

Rather than reliving the pain of seeing your piercer/lover, you could just stop into Hot Topic and get a larger gauge nose ring...they've got a lot of good options that are decently cute. Just stick with stainless steel so that the area around your nose doesn't change to a weird color (I hear silver does that some times)

Long Beard said...

Only my older brother calls me "Scotty," and I'm not getting married until like September. Fact-checking, y'all!

Anonymous said...

John and American Dan went to high school together. Small world.

Johnny Allan said...

Well what a small world me and Dan went to highschool together. FYI he just became single and ownes his own shop on the boardwalk. If your nose is still acting up dont be afraid to come back in. I wont bite and i'll fix you right up :)

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S. Chartreuse said...

Hi! So this is like two years after you wrote this, but I searched "falling in love with my tattoo artist" in google because I have this problem too. Your article was awesome to read, and now I feel less crazy. So thank you.

BTW, This line really had me laughing: "I had just turned 18 and still felt the need to get my mom's permission before rebelling—I think a sexual rendezvous on the beach with someone with flames tattooed on their dick was kind of ambitious."

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