for tattooed people, and those who want to be

And so it begins.


I think I was sixteen when I first decided I wanted to get a tattoo. We lived in a little armpit town called Beatrice (bee-ATT-ris) Nebraska in those days. Not only was there no tattoo parlor in town, I suspect anyone who tried to open one up would have been ridden out of town on a rail.

Had to content myself with drawing on my skin in green ink. Behind my inner left ankle, where it wouldn’t be seen by the Enforcers of the Dress Code. (Our high school principal was a dead ringer for Mussolini and ran the school with about as heavy a hand.) If I had had any clue how to make that design permanent in those days, I probably would have. Would I have been embarrassed by it in later years? Good question.

The design itself would have been obviously homebrewed (a cartoon of a flower in a pot, which I still like to doodle to this day–dunno what that means). But during the 60s and 70s it certainly would have been a mark of distinction. Where I lived, people didn’t DO that. I liked being different then. I like being different now.

So, in the mid 1990s, I read a newspaper article about the only tattoo artist in town. We’ve long since left the armpit of the midwest behind and we’re living in the LA megalopolis, so it’s surprising that at that time there was only one tattoo artist in this town. I read the article. I liked the guy’s attitude. I said “When I get my tattoo, he’s doing it.”

Of course, in those days I had no money for something like that. I was working for barely more than minimum wage as a supervisor in customer service in a big-box store. However, the store actually came to the rescue (not that they knew what they were doing). They had a contest for “friendliest store in the chain,” and the company offered to hand $50 to every employee in the store that won.

Our store won. I had $50 that I hadn’t planned on having. I went to get my tattoo.

All I wanted was seven small stars, for personal reasons too complicated to explain here. The artist thought that over, decided it was too blah and undistinguished, and drew me a new design. Seven stars, with a swirl of multicolored dots around them. I thought it over. Said yes. He quoted me a price. I went off to the ATM.

While I was sitting in the chair (and believe me, I looked every day of my 46 years) people wandered in and out of the store. They’d see me. They’d drop their teeth. Truthfully, I can’t remember when I’ve had more fun. The tattoo hurt, but not enough to change my genuine joy.

“Now you’re one of us,” said the artist when he’d finished.

Yeah baby. I sure am.

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Author: infmom

I got my first tattoo when I was 46. I hope the people who read this blog don't have to wait that long. I love talking about body art.

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