Quality Family Time

My wife and I have always tried to spend at least one evening every week enjoying fun family activities with our children. Last Monday, for example, we took our youngest son to a full-service tattoo and piercing studio. Afterwards, we stopped for some dessert and a bottle of saline solution then drove home and watched a Hallmark Christmas movie together. Just like any other normal family.

To be clear, the first part was entirely my son’s idea. He turned 18 in late November and decided it was time he stopped living with only the bare number of ear holes. So, he booked an appointment to get more at a place downtown that had gotten a bunch of great online reviews, which I now believe were generated by the same Russian bots that propagate misinformation on Twitter.

The place was SKETCHY.

I’m not sure what you imagined when I wrote “full-service tattoo and piercing studio” above, but I assumed it meant one of those vibrant boutique stores in the mall that sells ear piercings and pink hair bands to 8-year-old girls and sits next to an Orange Julius and where the likelihood of getting murdered is low. Instead, it was tucked in a dark alleyway behind a forsaken strip plaza and marked only by a small, flickering neon sign. I immediately regretted my decision to not wear my fastest running shoes.

I didn’t voice any complaints, though. In truth, my wife and I were just thrilled to be included in the adventure. It was no secret we weren’t my son’s first (or second or third) choice of chaperones for the evening, but the fact he eventually pulled us off the bench and invited us out in public was totally worth the stabbing risk. Also, I kept reminding myself that you can’t judge a book by its cover.


The interior was, in a word, extraordinary. It felt like a cross between a dentist’s office and the hardware section of Home Depot. There were lots of whirling instruments and recliners covered in impermeable plastic and cabinets filled with assorted pegs, spikes, and hooks. Installation prices varied by location. A single earlobe was $40, for example. A nostril or an eyebrow, $50. Single nipple? $60. Or you could get the pair done for $90. Anything “below the belt” would have required me to ask. (I didn’t.)

The “artists,” as they like to be called, were walking testaments to their craft. They each sported unique and colorful tattoos, piercings, and body modifications, some in places that seemed impossible to ever sterilize. The one that worked with my son had spikes embedded into their forearms and two horns* protruding from their skull. (*By “horns” I mean the type you’d need to fend off an angry mountain goat, not the type that honk. At least I don’t believe they honked. I didn’t ask.)

From start to finish the entire procedure took less than 10 minutes. None of us screamed or passed out or ended up with any new involuntary body holes.

Overall, I rated the evening 2 out of 5 stars. The Hallmark movie was just so predictable.

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