Saturday, October 1, 2011

It Feels Like The First Time

On this, the first day of the tenth month of the year 2011, in my 47th year, I got my first tattoo. Or more accurately, my first 2/3 of a tattoo — I’ve got to go back in about a month to get some touchup on the part done up to now, and have the remaining 1/3 inked in.

This will almost certainly be my last tattoo, too, though I couldn’t say for sure on that. This morning, after weeks of fiddling with the design and fretting over composition, I let go of all those worries on the hour-and-a-half drive, and focused instead for the first time on how much it would hurt. It seemed about time to think about that. I’d seen one photo online that was firmly in my mind, of a big burly guy screaming out as the needle hit his back. Another local tat shop (that I chose not to go to) distributes bumper stickers to clients that we see on the roads here all the time. Hell yeah it hurts, the stickers say, above the shop’s name. I suppose “bad ass” is supposed to be part of a tattoo wearer’s bragging rights.

Much to my surprise, it didn’t hurt at all. Almost not at all. I sat in the chair with my chosen artist working behind me, screwed up my mouth and wondered what I was missing? I kept asking how far along we were in the process, since for the first two hours I was convinced he must still be sketching. Not really into it yet, or something. I was always pleased to hear we were pretty far along. In the last short while, it did smart a little, as layering a third color in asked a bit much of nerves that were raw from the previous two. Even then, I only jumped a hair, once.

Am I happy with it?

I am neither happy nor unhappy. I’ll be asking for specific corrections when I return in a month, super-minimal things like, “increase the size of this shading by 1/8 of an inch, and round this out more by a degree or two.” Yes, it’s nutty — I chose this artist for his own attention to detail. I should have known I’d want to grab up the needles and start doing my own drawing. Luckily, the real expert between the two of us was working on my back, so that even I realized I could not take over, and so that he did not need to call in the law. “Yes, I need an officer here right away please — I’ve got a crazy lady on my hands who thinks she can do her own tattoo.”

The fact remains, we still need to finish this one. I am being harsh, because damn it, the fact that I would be was just oh-so-predictable.

Stay tuned. I've already got tips for anyone who's even more of a newbie than I am.

I won't show a photograph until it's finished. So here's me instead after the fact, in a tube top with my sweater off the shoulder where my brand-spanking new tattoo is, ponytail on the opposite side to keep my hair off of it. And, looking really wrung out after this day. No pain, but apparently a lot of psychological stress. I guess.


  1. Judy: I don't, generally, like the idea of tattooing. But to each his or her own and it dulls in comparison with some of the other statements people can make, such as nose rings or nipple rings, for example. But as long as you're happy, that's all that matters. Have fun with it!

  2. The anthropologist in me wanted the experience, simple as that. A future post at some point (if I continue with this topic thread) will mention that, in my opinion, no one younger than I am should do it. Have you seen "Little Miss Sunshine," per chance?

  3. Judy: Haven't seen that movie, no. Have YOU seen the movie, Pleasantville? No big or particular message. Just a flick I thought was really cool. I want to make it clear: it's your body. I didn't mean to insinuate I even HAD an opinion that you should consider. It is simply my feeling, that's all. I think if anything is all thought through, and that person STILL decides that's the way to go, that's THEIR choice, not mine. Having said all that, my sister got a beautiful tattoo. My former GF did. It's a perrsonal choice. And I wish you every good thought about it. As far as I'm concerned, we are just debating openly and honestly.

  4. Not to worry -- no "debate" detected! Just sharing of opinions. Indeed, it is up to the individual. If asked my opinion, I would suggest to 99 percent of those who get them, they shouldn't have.

    I think something an awful lot of people do is "detract" instead of "enhance." Detracting must be their reasoning, so far as I can tell -- and I guess that is up to the individual, too.

  5. The crazy-sounding part is the 4 1/2 hour drive.

  6. Whoops, no -- it was a 1-1/2 hour drive, three hours, round trip. Through the Jefferson National Forest no less, on a crisp fall day. That was part of what turned out to be most awesome experience.

  7. So, Judy, I am confused, which is nothing unusual. Excuse me for inquiring this way, but I am no longer on Farcebook. Does Robin still have her blog? I want to put her blog on my blogroll. Maybe she has given up blogging? Because I can't find Ripley's, I think it's called, anywhere on the Net. Sorry to bug you, but I don't have her email address to ask her.