The needle jammed through my nose with the force of a bullet. My sister had told me it wouldn’t hurt at all. That was a lie. The guy had told me I wouldn’t be sore after. That was also a lie.
All of my friends were there watching, waiting to see if it bled, if it hurt, if it looked as cool as they had all told me it would. They stood in the corners and peeked through their fingers, as I instantly became the brave, rebel friend.
My sophomore year in college I did a very stupid thing. I let some man with a face tattoo shove a 16-gauge needle through my nose and fill it with a large silver hoop. I thought it was so badass.
Just an FYI, getting your nose pierced hurts. It hurts a lot. Actually it hurts the exact amount that you would think a large man shoving a large needle through your face would hurt.
I flexed the muscles in my nose, feeling the jolt of pain and I told myself it was worth it. I knew I would have to take it out for my sister’s wedding in a few months. I didn’t care. I figured I would put one of those cheap plastic transparent posts through it for one day. That would make her happy right? All of her wedding pictures with her maid of honor sporting a literal chunk of plastic falling out of her nose. Excellent plan.
I told myself that all of my friends were right and that it would be so cute. I told myself that the $100 I had just shelled out to the face-tattoo man was worth it. I could now see the hoop looming whenever I looked down and was obsessed with it.
I wiggled my nose, pushed my nostrils together and apart and grinned through the very literal pain.
I took a million selfies, made bad puns about my nose, and constantly cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned again. I ignored the fact that sometimes the little hoop would swirl around and the ball would hang out of my nose like a bugger. No one ever mentioned to me how much it looked like I was picking my nose when I tried with little success to swirl it back into it’s nasal home.
Needless to say I was proud of the metal in my face. I walked around with pride. I wore my ring as a sign of defiance and rebellion. I thought I was for sure the coolest kid in Mid-Missouri.
Nobody told me what you do when you get sick. Nobody told me what you do when your nose is pouring snot like a fountain and your ring catches a booger to keep for itself and show off. Nobody told me that you couldn’t effectively blow your nose without inducing excruciating pain and wondering if you ripped the rebellion right out of your face.
Even though I was embarrassed, I was still cool. I had a nose ring. I was a rebel. I wore a lot of plaid and beanies. Someone could have mistaken me for a middle school boy. I wasn’t getting kissed at the time (maybe for obvious reasons?) and I was so sure that it would feel cool and wiggle with someone’s face pushed against mine. I wiped at my snot with pride and laughed it off like the cool college kid I was.
But the snot and the ring joined together as an evil team to give me a giant red Rudolph bump on the top of my ring. I was now Rudolph the red-nosed rebel. I took the ring out of my nose and mourned the loss of my rebellion.
That Sunday as I was skyping my parents (as I do every Sunday), they both had huge smiles on their faces. I knew why, but I was too defeated to ask. My dad piped up saying that he was so glad the ugly metal was out of my face and my mom nodded. They looked so proud of their little girl for pulling the atrocity out of her face and being a normal human again.
They proceeded to tell me that they had in fact told me not to do it. They had told me that it would get infected. They had told me I would be wasting my money. For the record, I have no memory of this. But, the warnings turned into “I told you so” really quickly that day. I had half a mind to shove it back in just to prove them wrong, but the snot and buggers that my sinuses had become so fond of had permanently taken root in the way of the hole.
But I guess I did learn a lesson from all of my nasal strife. Other than the obvious, don’t pierce your face, don’t let a man with a face tattoo stab you with a needle and don’t let your friends talk you into anything; I learned to listen to the little voice inside my head that is programmed to tell you not to jump off of bridges, not to snort salt, and not to stick metal places it doesn’t belong.