Lindsay now has an intimate knowledge of anatomy. "Since pros pierce anywhere, we need to know if we are about to touch a nerve or punch out a blood vessel. When I was trained, it took a year. I would mark where I wanted to pierce and the person training me would say something like, 'That's a major vessel.' It was like a graphic version of Operation."
She also deals with good old-fashioned regret, because sometimes getting 17 skull piercings and insisting that all your friends call you Pinhead doesn't have lasting appeal. "I'd say about every fourth person is coming in for a piercing to be removed. Many are college kids who went down to Mexico, got one, then regretted it," she says.
"It keeps letting the light in when I'm trying to sleep."
Pros aren't infallible themselves. Hey, even the best surgeons occasionally lose one on the operating table. "Every piercer will eventually make a mistake. Like with two nose piercings I had -- I scraped the bone cartilage on the inside. It was hard to keep them from moving too much since it hurts like hell. I've hit tiny veins, and blood can really pool out like a never-ending nosebleed. A minor ear vein nick can end up looking like a scene from Saw."
But it's customer mishap that does the most damage. "One woman who came in actually had two earlobes since it split open when her kid yanked on her hoop earring and it tore down," she says. So if you've got a kid who wants piercings and you don't approve, just substitute "her kid" for "your bully" in that story and they'll stop bugging you for a while.
"Do you really want a torn ear and to give that asshole free gold in the process?"
Most mishaps occur well after the piercing -- healing takes months, and that's a long time to wait considering most people get impatient halfway through microwaving a Hot Pocket. Nipple piercings are especially problematic, although maybe don't share this story with your kid unless you've already had "the birds and bees who are into nipple play" conversation. One of Lindsay's customers "had both nipples done, and within a few months it became part of her [sexual] routine, despite my warning. He yanked too hard and it ripped off. I visited her in the hospital. It looked like she was shot. It healed, but her nipple is misshapen now."