Nine years ago I got a tattoo.
Most people say that getting a tattoo is not really painful. They use words like “aggravation” and “annoyance.” Don’t believe it. It’s more like a cross between a root canal and a D&C. My fingernail imprints are still in the book I tried to read as a diversion. After 30 minutes of white knuckling it, I figured that the best defense was simply to immerse myself in the experience.
“Would you mind if I got my camera and took some pictures?” I asked Li’l Dave, the tattoo artist.
“Oh yeah. I’m a writer. Maybe I could bring in my notebook and ask you a bunch of questions?”
Do you know that the tool a tattoo artist uses resembles a dentist’s drill? But instead of a drill, it has a bunch of needles. Depending on the desired effect, tattoo artists can use three to seven needles at a time. These needles jab your skin between 2000 and 3000 times a minute, poking the dyes in.
I wanted a tree swallow and brought an illustration from a bird book which Li’l Dave reproduced. Eventually that bird took on character, form and voila! One handsome 7 cm x 5 ½ cm tree swallow—as if it just swooped in from our old farm. I was ecstatic.
The reactions of friends and family were mixed.
“Whatever possessed you?”
“You wild woman you!”
“Tell me you’ll be able to wash that off.”
Heaven knows what they’ll say this time. You see, I’ve decided to get another tattoo. A thistle on the top of my hand, trailing over my wrist. I’m starting to think the pain couldn’t have been that bad. I’m hoping it will only be an aggravation this time. Yeah.
Got any tattoo stories?