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.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Two to Tango

Not too long ago, I had a hairstylist I loved very much, and he loved me. Man, he gave good hair-washings  --  I gladly paid him every nickel he asked for his pricey cuts and color, plus a big fat tip for the time he spent with me at the sink. This was despite the fact that whatever I said I did not want, was what I got. If I said, "No red in the color, Jack; red is no good with my skin tone," then it was settled. Red it would be, a metallic, candy-apple red, something akin to what you might expect to see on a Corvette. (Jack was crazy-good with shine.) Oh well, I would think to myself, I guess Doug and I won't need to wear blaze orange in the mountains this hunting season.

This tango could not go on without two of us obviously, my hairdresser and me. I was a willing partner in the game of Let's Dress Judy Up. Over the years I've begun to understand a little better why a group of friends long before this began calling me Barbie no matter how much I protested, no matter how much I cussed and spit and told them to knock it off.

Wash my hair? OK, call me whatever you want.

I am thinking of this now as time hurtles me toward the tattoo appointment I've had for two weeks. I have thought about it plenty over the years, and then really really thought about it over the last 14 days. I have worked and reworked the design. I have done my utmost to find the right professional and artist. I also know very well what it's like to stand in front of the mirror and wonder if I even speak English  --  I who always thought of herself as pretty good in the language department.

Why do we find most alluring precisely what terrifies us? Would I go to all this trouble and expense, drive the hour and a half, plus endure the pain, if it weren't permanent?

No, I would not.

* By the way, the appointment is still something like 42 hours away, and I still reserve the right to back out.