One of the reasons that my friends and I took a trip to San Antonio was to get a tattoo. We didn't have to go all the way to Texas to permanently disfigure our bodies but it sounded like a lot of fun and we're young and crazy so ...
Actually, let me back up. We are no longer young and not really crazy. That doesn't mean to say we can't have lapses in judgement!
I didn't know what to get. A busty barmaid on my right shoulder? A thick skull on fire with a snake crawling out of the eye socket? Stewie from The Family Guy? Of course, I am more of a Simpson's fan. There were so many options. I wanted something significant. Something that would mean something to me when I'm 85 and wondering how my life went down the crapper. I had to put some effort into my choice so I googled Tattoo. This helped me narrow down my choices to 3,567,850,599 in less than 2 seconds. At least it was a start.
After a couple of days, I finally settled on the Nautical Star on my upper back. It's an old sailor symbol that represents the North Star or the Southern Cross (depending on which side of the equator you're on) which the sailors used to navigate home safely. Taking this a little further, it has come to signify finding one's way in life. This is perfect. I'm a little lost in my own life and I need to find direction. Having this symbol etched in my back was somehow going to help me in my quest.
I also liked the fact that this is the Texas Lone Star, which was appropriate since I was getting it done in that state. Being Canadian, this seemed a little weird but I figured I could always get a maple leaf tattoed on my chest if I suddenly felt un-patriotic. Maybe there was a two-fer special going on.
We settled on a tattoo parlor that seemed clean and non-threatening. I didn't want anyone named Bubba attacking me with dull instruments from a dirty table. We made a good choice with Platinum Tattoo and Piercing.
Our first visit was just to set up an appointment. We chose Andy as our artist who seemed really great. We looked through his portfolio and it showed his cool artwork as well as pictures of him being suspended by hooks in his back. Who knew that human skin was so tough? I made a mental note to ask him why he would want to prove this point.
We returned to the location two days later. I was a little nervous. I'm not a fan of pain. I don't like it when they take my blood at the doctor's office. If I stub my toe, I scream. If I have a headache, I run for the advil. I do have one tattoo already; I got that 12 years ago and I still remember the sensation. It's like having a jagged piece of glass scraped into your skin. I wasn't looking forward to this feeling again and unfortunately this tattoo would be larger than the last one.
My friend went first. She wanted a tattoo of a butterfly on her hip.
It took TWO HOURS! My friend is a lot tougher than I am but there were times I could tell it really hurt. I stood and watched the whole time. I found it oddly fascinating.
It turned out to be a fleshy work of art.
My other friend went next. Hers was very simple. Two chinese characters that signify integrity.
It was my turn. I was trying to act like a man so my grimacing was barely noticeable.
There was a picture of Johnny Cash in front of me. I was trying to think of all the suffering that he went through in his life so that I could forget about mine.
It didn't work.
My back was getting drilled.
I don't know how long it took but I was very happy when it was over. And it looked good. I had a fear that the star was going to be crooked or Andy couldn't stay within the lines or he would add flames or ...
Phew. It was what I wanted.
Now I have to wash it, and moisturize it and keep it out of the sun just like a newborn baby. It's a hard place to reach but I went through a lot to get it so I'm damn well going to look after it.
They say tattoos are addicting. Will I get another one? Hmmm. I don't know. I'll think about it ...
But not for another 12 years.