back in 1990 (or was it 1991?) i got my ear pierced. "ear" singular and the left one, of course, because back then it mattered. i went to some shop in a mall in san antonio and they used a piercing gun to punch a gold starter stud through my ear. i went out and bought a few different earrings, but eventually i ended up settling on a hoop with a surgical steel post and that's the only thing i wore. i basically never took it out. and i won't bother going into how long it took for the piercing to finally heal...i think maybe my body doesn't like having gold shoved through it. years passed...
in 1997 or 1998 i was with tamara and she suggested i consider replacing my standard post hoop with a gauge captive hoop. it seemed like a logical choice: it doesn't come or fall out, it has no post to poke into your head, and it's a clean, simple style.
note to those not in the know: with gauge jewelry the wire passing through your piercing is a certain thickness - the gauge. there is no regular "earring-sized" post or section of the jewelry...the same thickness of wire goes through your piercing. so basically you have a bigger hole in your ear (or whatever body part you got pierced...you're on the internet, look it up). the smaller the gauge, the bigger the diameter of the wire. with a captive hoop, the wire is bent into a circle except for a small gap at one point where a ball with divets on opposite sides is pinched between the ends of the hoop, thus closing the hole and keeping the jewelry in place. tools are used to get the ball between the hoop ends and the tension of the pinching keeps it in place.
anyway, so tamara and i headed to taurian (on westheimer near montrose) and got my hole stretched. they said based on standard earrings (around 20 gauge), they could stretch to a 16 gauge, maybe a 14. since i wanted something a little bigger, i decided to go 14.
note to those not in the know: stretching means taking a tapered rod that starts at a dull point and ends at the gauge size you're going to and sliding that through to stretch the hole, then following the new jewelry behind it.
mine started hurting pretty good during the stretch so i had him pause. he came back in a couple of minutes and started again, but it started hurting pretty good again so i had him pause. while he was out of the room, i started feeling clammy and weak so i leaned back against the wall. i also noticed i started to have sweat running profusely down my back and legs. i said "i don't feel so good" and when tamara looked over she said "oh my G-d!". evidently i'd turned grey. the piercer came in and saw me and said "oh man, we need to get you some water." so after a few minutes i was feeling some better and i had him finish stretching the hole. i felt kind of dumb considering i almost passed out and it was just a stretch (no piercing), and of a small hole, and tamara immediately followed by stretching from 8's to 6's with no drama at all...but they say it's an automatic reaction some people sometimes have to pain, especially on the head, and you really don't have any control over it. at least that's what i tell myself so i don't feel like less of a man. ;)
i had that solo 14 gauge captive hoop for years. at times i would consider getting my other ear pierced, and/or getting a bigger gauge hoop, but i never got around to it. then finally in june of last year (2005) i decided it was time. i went back to taurian and replaced my lone 14 gauge with a 12 gauge in each ear (stretching the 14 and piercing the other ear). although i was worried about a repeat performance of my near passing out, everything went quite smoothly. the new jewelry was the same as the 14 other than gauge - 7/16 inch surgical steel captive hoops with surgical steel balls.
well, after work today i went by taurian and replaced my 12 gauge captive hoops with 10 gauge ones. i kept the same hoop size and they're still all surgical stainless, so it's probably not all that obvious. there was absolutely no drama this time either, although the left (older) hole was a tighter stretch than the right.
those 12 gauges were with me 24/7 for one year. and that single 14 gauge was with me 24/7 for longer than my marriage lasted.
and yes, there is a reason i got the 12's in june last year and why i upped the gauge in june this year. i will leave it as an exercise for the reader(s) to figure out what that reasoning might be.