Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Promises, Promises

Well, I did it again — made a promise about a future blog topic that I am now loath to fulfill. The tattoo was a brief thrill that has now assumed its rightful place on the Interest Meter, somewhere above bitching about the weather but below this year’s amazing fall color and reading my horses’ body language. (Noble steeds? I have a pair of four-legged clowns.) Now, it’s just a thing; I notice it from time to time but mostly it’s like a fabulous new nail color. Much as I might like it, I don’t pause to admire it while I’m picking the horses’ hooves. Life goes on in Brumley Gap.

But I said what I meant, and I meant what I said, I guess. I feel an obligation to finish what I started. I’ll try to say something for a broader audience, or at least throw in something completely unexpected, for gratuitous-sex-and-violence value.

Anyway …

Tips for Would-Be Tattooees

1) Wait a few decades.

I can date the first time I told a friend I was seriously considering a tattoo to sometime between 1993 and 1996, the years I worked with her. You always hear that tattoos are not just for sailors anymore, but just that few years ago, they were. It was a shocking thing for a college director of public relations to admit. My friend’s eyes grew wide, but when I told her I was thinking of something to memorialize the son that I had lost, she said, “Oh don’t worry about it. No matter what anyone thinks about the tattoo, they’ll forget it instantly when you tell them that.”

For well over a decade, I never got a tattoo, until about the exact moment a new idea replaced that old one. In my 30s I was wise enough to know that I didn’t want it to be my son’s name — I didn’t want to explain who “Andrew” was to every stranger who innocently asked. In my late 40s, I realized that I didn’t want a symbol of him either. In my case, the tattoo was all about me. I just wanted it. It was far, far too frivolous and self-centered an endeavor for a memorial. I would have felt silly and a little guilty every time that I saw it. On some level, I think I always knew that.

One last aside on this tip:  After reading the barest minimum on the long-term effects of tattoo inks, my personal opinion is that a woman, especially, should consider whether she should be beyond child-bearing age. I elected not to get vegetable inks no matter what, and not to think about the metal-based alternatives. That is a luxury of being my age — the ink in my skin that I will carry around with me for the rest of my life can only affect me.

2) Respect that your body will be taking a big immune-response “hit.”

In a previous blog on this subject, I posted an awful photograph of myself the evening after I got the tattoo, still looking exhausted and puffy-eyed after a hard two-hour nap. Doug said I looked stoned. I wasn’t real sure why I put it up, except for a vague sense that I wanted people (my daughters) to know, should they decide to get a tattoo: they should be very healthy and take excellent care of themselves, especially in the days before. It didn’t hurt until briefly, at the end of about two hours of needles, but I knew by the way that I crashed afterward that I was actively in the process of doing some serious healing. The artist that I had chosen said he could tell by looking at my skin and the way that it was responding that I eat very, very well (I do), and he asked me if I worked out. (I don’t, except for working horses and being outside a lot.) He himself is top-notch; among the things that impressed me when I chose him was that he takes photographs immediately after doing a job, so people can see that a brand new tattoo doesn’t have to look like bad road rash. I followed the after-care instructions, continued to rest and eat really well, and the thing was perfectly healed up in 5 to 7 days. Never itched, never hurt. Never got a wicked-bad antiobiotic-resistant staph infection.

And that will be enough of that. I’ve got horses to ride. But before I go …

Two old ladies are talking to each other. One whispers secretively, “I went to see my doctor because every time I sneeze, I have an orgasm!”

“Oh you poor dear! says the other. “What are you taking for it?”

“Why, ragweed.”


  1. Thrilling. Amazing tale, well-told. I would never get a tattoo, but always wondered what it would be like. Now I know.

  2. Thank you dear friend. Always a happy occasion for me, when you stop by!

  3. Oh, that was so funny! I'm still not getting a tattoo. I simply know that if I dared get some pagan symbol etched onto my skin, I would suddenly be possessed by some satanic demon and be "born again". I just can't risk that.

  4. Good that you quit smoking several months before the illustration. Happy ten month anniversary on the cessation. I know it wasn't easy.

    About the tattoo, was any of the ink metallic? MRIs and such could be problematic.

    Ragweed, huh?

  5. I hope that medical personnel ask if it is problematic! That brings up another point that I meant to make, and that's that people should understand a tat shop (or whatever you want to call it) is NOT a sterile field. I've spent a little time in three now, and always marveled at the mistakes made -- I once watched one fellow put on his gloves before a piercing and then proceed to touch every knob and drawer pull in the room.

    But in my opinion, the antibiotic resistant bugs in a hospital are far, far more frightening.