24 July, 2014

A Fancy Pain Hat

presented by
Mystic Metals Body Jewelry

A Fancy Pain Hat

I hate the internet. Most of it, anyway. Some of it is actually pretty useful. It has some interesting tid bits about tids and bits. News is good, and the internet has a lot of that. Photos of kittens. That's a good thing. The rest of it is just a bunch of self indulgent cocksuckers with ill-researched opinions and a penchant for virtual disproportionately sized testicles to their reality counterpart balls. Everyone is Lee Van Cleef behind a keyboard, yet in reality (the only reality that really counts, I'd say; unless you ask Philip K. Dick), they all smile wider than John Wayne Gacy at a five year old's birthday party. It's sad that folks can't or choose not to be as legitimate to their opinions in reality than when they are being sun tanned by their computer monitors. We can all take a lesson from Harold Melvin. Be for real.

Then again, starting like that makes me very much seem like an old curmudgeon. Which I probably am at this point. Anyway, let's talk about something. As you cats and kittens probably know, I am the social media coordinator for Mystic Metals Body Jewelry. Don't let the title fool you. It's a fancy way of saying, 'I post on Facebook and Instagram and answer questions that a tit's worth of initiative could have answered themselves.' I like my job. I'm not great at it, but I don't have to get out of my wheelchair to do it, and I no longer have to deal with musicians (like my last job of bass player). Dealing with musicians is more irritating than trying to peal the spider web off your face that you walked through several hours ago but are convinced is still there. Part of my job is to keep people engaged on Facebook. So everyday, I ask a modification related question, and the cats and kittens post on the questions and start discussions. It's pretty neat to watch, and I typically stay out of it. I'm a free speech guy, and I enjoy seeing others exercise that right. Unless you spam comment with adds for your own jewelry store. Then I'll delete that shit. It's like going into Dunkin Donuts and handing out flyers for Krispy Kreme. Idiotic and classless. You want 62,000 likes like us? Work as hard as we do.

Let me relax and get to the point. Recently I asked on Facebook if mod artists ought to be allowed to administer some form of anesthesia to help with the pain of the modification. It was a general question, and yes, I understand all of the intricacies involved with that. With licenses and training and all of that shit. It was meant to be a broad question. And yes, I know there are some topical balms and solutions used for heavier modifications. Again, just keeping the question broad. The responses we got from that post were interesting. A pretty solid split of yes and no, with an unscientific eyeball saying it was likely slightly more nos. The interesting element was why the nos said no. Most of them said that the pain was part of the experience. Which I understand completely. Those who contended that the pain was part of the experience were further divided into two categories. Polite, and elitist. (Those are my asshole assessments. I'm sure there would be more polite ways of categorizing them, but I'm a dickhead and I hate everything, so there you go.)

The polite nos said that the pain is part of the experience, or it was part of the spirituality of modification, or it was part of the sense of self gained from the experience. I can dig that, and some of them were phrased pretty well. The elitist nos were much more combative about the topic. The heat and kitchen analogy was used a couple of times, and some even said that if one can't withstand the pain of modification, then that person doesn't deserve the modification. That kind of chapped my ass a little. And you don't want to be in a wheelchair all day with a chapped ass, believe me.

What I enjoy about the modification culture is that it is very inclusive on the whole. All races, all religions, all lifestyle orientations (or whatever bullshit PC term is now used for liking broads or dudes), all everything. Modification creates a commonality between myself and someone with whom I'd never have had a shared interest. And that's a beautiful thing. I am a libertarian, and most of my modded friends are progressives. Our tattoos and piercings bring us to a common place where we can start a dialog where one would have likely not been instigated before. That's a good thing. Communication about differences leads to understanding and sympathy, and sympathy leads to care and respect.
Yeah, if you tell me that you want a tattoo or piercing but you're preventing yourself from getting one because of the pain, I'll jokingly call you a pussy. But then I'll lie to you and tell you that it isn't all that bad and you'll be fine. It's not a big lie, just a little nudge to get you out of the plane. Once you jump, you'll see that it is as awesome as you were afraid to admit it was going to be. And yes, modifications hurt. It's just a measure of hurt more and hurt less. But to discourage people to modify because they have trepidations regarding the pain is a bit too elitist for me to endorse. For most of us, the pain is part of the experience, and that is a fine perception. For others, the pain sucks and is frightening. And that's ok too. I'd like to see the mod elitist types get rhinoplasty without anesthesia because it's part of the experience of modifying their noses. Unlikely, I'd think.

I have a pretty romantic relationship with pain. Because of my birth defect, I live in constant pain. Sometimes it is unbearable, sometimes it is manageable, all times it is there. Pain sucks. Pain does not prove that you've accomplished something. Pain does not give one credence toward perception of life over those who've not experienced pain. Pain is our sixth sense that either asks us, 'are you sure you want to do this,' or tells us, 'this isn't a good idea.' I am not a more fortified person because I've experienced more than my share of pain. I'm not tougher or better or more keenly perceptive. I'm just me with a pain accessory. Like a hat. A fancy pain hat. To say that someone doesn't deserve a modification because he's not interested in feeling the pain is like saying the fat guy who gets surgery to lose weight is not deserving of being thin because he didn't experience the pain of working out to lose the weight. That's absurd to me.

The idea that the pain of modification is in someway part of the fee of the resultant tattoo or piercing or other heavy mod seems too elitist for me to accept. The culture of modification that encourages each other to modify for happiness rather than bragging rights is a more pleasant culture to me. I garner great happiness from holding the hand of someone during his tattoo or piercing, and then afterword at the diner, hearing him say, 'you know, that wasn't so bad.' I got my side (hip to bottom two ribs) tattooed recently by my wonderful friend Tim Pangburn, and it hurt like fuck. Brutal. On the drive home with my best friend Dave, I said, 'Yeah, I'm not getting my other side done. Fuck that.' Several weeks have passed now, and I'm thinking maybe I'll get my other side done.

Bravery and the ability to confront unavoidable pain is a fuel tank. It will become exhausted, emptied. Over time it'll refill, and then we expend it and wait for its refilling again. When I was getting spinal injections frequently, I spaced them out months apart for that very reason. That was the most intense pain I've ever felt, and there was no way in this or any other Philip K. Dick reality I could get injected four weeks apart. Nine weeks? Twelve weeks? My tank was refilled and I was ready to go again. Fearfully and angrily, but ready. The ability to withstand pain doesn't make us men. The ability to confront it does. Fear, pain, and bravery are odd bedfellows. And though I've never heard of a bedfellow described as not being odd, I think it's appropriate that things like confronting pain is hard because it grants that much more value to the result of the pain's happening. Everyone deserves to be modified if he so chooses, pain or otherwise. Those of us who have experienced the pain of modification have no more ownership of its propriety than those who choose to modify sans pain. And at the end of the day, the only person's opinion about your mods that matters is yours. Let's try to keep our beautiful culture as inclusive as it can be. Stay beautiful, kids.

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