Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sneaking one in

Yeah, I'm uh-pposed to be working. Yeah, there's someone waiting for me to finish what I said I'd finish by the time I said I'd finish it, but you know what? They can wait.

I have to finish my tattoo story, and then tell you about how gross and scabby-awful my new tat looks now.

You'll have to wait a mo for that though. Sorry, I know the suspense must be killing you.

SO, where were we in the Tiff Gits a Tat story? Ah yes, I was deciding on a piece of flash.

On the walls of tattoo parlors are poster-sized display thinigies that you can leaf/rifle/scan through that have multiple pieces of standard-issue art on them. At this shop, there were pages and pages of kanji characters (OUT!), pages and pages of skulls and drippy blood things (OUUUUT!), pages and pages of crucifixes and Marys and Jebuses (and even though I don't MIND all that, I'm not decorating myself with in in case I have some late-life conversion to FSM-ism or something, so OUT!), and pages and pages of tribal tatware that I can't go into because, well, I LIKE that stuff but don't want to look like I'm just following along with the crowd, so that was OUT too.


That left me butterflies, Celtic knotwork, and lizards.

I almost got a lizard. Lizards are cute. And colorful! Yay! But hard to explain, so, moving on.

I already HAVE a knotwork tat, so didn't want to go all "theme-y" on my bod by getting another one. I almost got a butterfly one that looked a little not-like a butterfly and more like a briar patch with a hint of wings, but opted out of that too as being too "college girl."

I wanted something more fierce, yet still girly. Something bold, yet delicate. Something that seemed "right" for me.

Do you know how hard it is to pick out a tattoo? It's almost impossible to know if you're doing it right! It takes TIME, y'all!

I went back and forth over getting some ankle work done to go with my other tat, or getting a one that would stand on its own. I toyed with ones that made musical references, to hearts entwined with stylized barbed wire, to simple curlicues and whatnots, before deciding on the one that I ultimately had imprinted on my back forever and ever amen. I thought it was pretty, Oldfriend gave the nod, and the counter dude made up the template.

While he was copying the art, we started chatting with a heavily tattooed young guy. He was really nice, and cute as a button, even with two almost-full sleeves, 1-inch diameter holes in his earlobes, and knuckle tattoos. Actually, it was the knuckle tats that caught my eye, because they were barely readable and actually a shade LIGHTER than his skin. I asked if they were done in glow-in-the-dark ink (because there is such a thing), but he said nope, that they were done in white ink.

At that point something went "Bing!" in my head, and I started getting the notion of getting MY work done in something other than black. I asked Oldfriend what color it should be, and she pointed to my shirt and said "that color. Teal." We asked Mr Tat Man if that was possible, and he yelled to the back of the store "Hey Nelson, she wants it done in teal!" and that was that.

Teal it would be. Apparently they get a lot of that. Who knew?

This next bit is where the pain comes in. If you're squeamish, please skip it and go get yourself a candy bar or something.

OK, not this bit here - this bit is about putting on the template and realizing I'd have to take my shirt off, because I'd decided that I wanted it on my upper back, which meant that to put on the template and ink me I'd have to take off my shirt.

In a tattoo parlor.

Full of men.


All's I could do was hope that the back cleavage wasn't too sickening, and strip.

My back was swabbed with alcohol and dried, the template was applied, I approved the positioning, and assumed the position, which wound up to be straddling a chair with my shirt pulled over my head, trying to look nonchalant.

Nelson mixed me up a pretty teal color, adding a little yellow to the standard-issue ink to give it a little "pop," and after I approved the hue I turned back around, grabbed my own hands, and he set to work.

For 45 minutes he worked, first outlining, then "filling in." I quickly learned which quadrants were no big deal and which (1) was a very big deal indeed. See, most of the time the tattooing process either didn't feel like anything (I shit you not!) or it felt mildly annoying, like a sunburn. HOWEVER, the lower-right quadrant must still have some nerve left, because once that needle started in on me in that spot, I knew it with a capital KNEW!

Ouch. Ouch, Ouch. Holy crap, that hurt. Hurt bad enough for me to focus on the tremulous buzzing of the tattoo gun as Nelson raked it through my skin. Hurt enough to make me practice deep cleansing breaths. Hurt enough to almost want to stop, but if I pinched my own fingers hard enough hand chanted "ow, ow, ow" under my breath I could make it through a few minutes of necessary work.

Y'all, it hurt. I'm not going to kid you. However, if you get a good artist working on you, they'll stop, do something else, let your nerves settle down, and then come back to that spot.

Nelson is good.

And I didn't stop.

Before too long I was the proud owner of a shiny new tattoo, and could not be happier.

I admired it in the mirror, he greased me up and sealed off the new art with saran wrap and surgical tape, gave me a lecture about how to care for it, I handed him his tip, and I was done.

You might ask: what does one do after getting a tattoo? Well, if one is me, on a visit to a great friend, one gets taken for a pedicure and shoe shopping after getting a tattoo, during which time one might leak a little teal dye and blood onto the back of one's shirt so that all the nice Vietnamese nail ladies look at one a little strangely, but one would not care because one has a fierce and awesome new piece of body art on one and they do not.

Then one goes back to the friend's house, washes up the shirt, takes off the saran wrap, washes and dries the tat, lubes it up again, and eats pizza and drinks bourbon until 1 a.m.

Because that makes perfect sense, and is the BEST way to spend time, even IF one did not have a cool new tattoo.

Really - shoe shopping AND a pedicure? Be still my heart.


So, now the tattoo is healing, and it's getting a little crunchy. Bet you didn't know they did that, did you? Yup - the excess ink is forced out by your body and the injuries heaped on your skin have to heal, and so for a week or so the tat is in a state of disrepair. I won't know what it REALLY looks like until this weekend.

Can NOT wait, because right now? That sucker itches.

There you go! My tattoo story, in 8000 words. Verbose much?

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