It’s the Sixth of May and you’re probably asking, “Where the hell is Hart’s annual Cinco de Mustache post?” Well, it’s half-assedly right here. It’s not to say I didn’t grow a stache, because I did and it has driven my female friends away in, well, droves. Keithage’s, though, caught the attention of one waitress last weekend. She wouldn’t leave our table alone, and was all about him while practically ignoring me. She even took his order then left without taking mine. Oh well, it just meant I could watch the hockey game and not pretend I cared about what she had to say.
Anyway, I don’t really know what more I can write about this holiday every year. I’ll start brainstorming and plan something for next year, but for this all you get is that picture above and a song.
I thought I would instead talk about another change my body recently went through.
After years of contemplating and theoretically planning I finally fulfilled a promise I made to no one. I joined the ranks of all those degenerates out there and marred my body for all eternity with a tattoo. So I decided I would chronicle what the experience was like for me, especially since I had heard so many things and didn’t really know what to expect.
The first step was figuring out what I wanted; what I would be ok with having on me for the rest of my life. With that in mind I quickly threw out my first idea of this, and I struggled with whether I should do the “Boy Meets World” logo or not. I went with not, for now. With those options gone, what’s left? That’s when I decided I should do something that represents who I am and where I come from. Though this probably meant some kind of Irish symbol and those are rampant in tattoo art. Oh well, fuck it. I started to finalize a decision, but something was missing.
Then, at a punk rock show, I saw the missing piece.
I could see the idea in my head, but with my mediocre drawing abilities I was unable to transfer it from my head to the paper. I knew I had to seek the help from someone else. I also knew this would help me follow through with the decision. Someone would give up their time and I wouldn’t let it be for naught. I sought the artistic skills of my sister. I was worried about this idea though since for the last 8 or 9 years I have been asking her to paint me a picture. Every birthday, every Christmas, any time that warranted a gift I pleaded for a painting from her, and for 8 and 9 years I never received a painting. I wasn’t sure if this would happen with the tattoo design as well. At that point I didn’t have anything to lose so I asked if she wanted to help and emailed her my idea. To my surprise she had something for me a week later.
Not too my surprise was how pleased I was with what she had come up with.
I printed it out and began to add color. I started really coloring it in, then realized that was taking too long and was a task I really didn’t want to do. So I scribbled the color to give a sense of what I wanted. Then I hopped in the car and headed out to meet the artist and give him the design.
The artist I went to was Sean DeHerrera at Theoretical Ink. Sean is a friend of Lady E and Dagger, and that played a big role in why I chose him. Also I was really impressed with his portfolio, specifically the butterfly he did. His shadow on it was so good it looked like a real butterfly was landing on this chick’s (I assume it’s a chick) shoulder.
I was nervous heading down there. I was making a big decision here and it was unnerving. I calmed down a little when I got there and the wind ripped my design from my hands and I had to chase it across the parking lot. Nothing as fun as being a grown ass man chasing a drawing around the parking lot like I’m fucking Charlie Chaplin or some shit.
But I caught it, took it in, and Sean liked the idea, but wanted to make some minor tweaks, adding shading and what have you. So I made an appointment, put a down payment, uh, down, and headed home. I was in a pretty good mood, which was only enhanced when I got to see the Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile on my way home.
The day came when I was to get it done, and I was excited and nervous. It was the same kind of feeling I had when I moved out on my own. Wasn’t sure what to fully expect, but I was pretty sure it would be awesome. I was told often before hand, and it was on the appointment card to make sure and eat before hand. I swear I was told this like 90 times, so between that and the nervousness I ended up eating this giant plate of waffles and fruit, I wish I had that now, and probably again tomorrow.
The nervousness grew as I made my way to the shop. Dagger and Lady E weren’t doing anything, so they came down to hang out and watch. They eased me a little, but I still turned to one surefire calming device: Ruby Soho by Rancid. Now I was ready.
When I walked in Sean was just setting up the chair and tattooing area. He had the design done and ready to go. Improved the clover which was the part I was least happy with. Sean finished setting up as I filled out some paper work. Just standard stuff like I’m not drunk, or mental, and I won’t sue should shit go wrong. Yada, yada, yada… whatever, let’s get to the fucking ink!
First order of business, well the first order after the first order of paper work, was removing the hair from my sasquatchian arm. Aside from one old timey beard shave, I have never have had anyone, let alone another dude, remove hair from my body. I felt like I shouldn’t watch, as if it were akin to making eye contact in an MMA fight.
He then put some transfer paper on my arm and put an outline there for him to work with. This process was very much like a temporary tattoo. Clean the arm, stick the tattoo, wet the tattoo, and slowly peel away. So far everything was going smoothly.
I then climbed into the chair and got comfortable. I was going to be there for awhile, about two hours. I was comfortable, until I had to prop my arm up on the arm rest. If you haven’t gathered I got this on my arm, my bicep to be specific. So my arm is on a rest, but it’s elevated and slightly awkward.
Sean had a small table set up that had a stack of paper towels, a giant gob of some kind of goo, some ink bottles, and caps. He then put the needles into the needle thing. I should have asked what that was called. I do know that they hooked to two cables much like a car battery and it shot the needle back and forth at 70 hits per second, or 170, damn brain and its problem with numbers. It was a lot of hits per second and it involved the number 7.
He then filled the caps with ink, or paint as Dagger called it at one point, dipped the needle in and went to work. This was the moment of truth. What was this pain going to be like? What does it feel like to be jabbed 70 times per second with a needle? Would I be able to take it for the next two hours?
Well, it wasn’t that bad. It was a dull and cold sting. It was more annoying than it was painful. The worst part was in the back side, near the tricep, and that still wasn’t too bad. I would definitely be able to withstand this for the next couple hours. I take that back, the worst part was the pressure from Sean’s arm against my arm due to the weird angle my arm was resting.
After the outline and the bulk of the color was done we took a short break so I could stretch the legs and he could have a smoke. When he came and started again, it hurt more than when we first got underway. It was like my body got used to it, then it stopped and was able to go back to normal and wasn’t ready for that feeling again. My body just wasn’t sure what was going on.
Now obviously I didn’t want to move my arm least I get a crooked line or something. I was never more aware of the movement of my body. I was afraid to talk because I don’t know exactly how my body moves when I talk. When Lady E got her last tattoo Dagger was making her laugh too much, so this time he wasn’t allowed to make jokes. So I sat there almost motionless, trying to squeeze out small talk. Sean encouraged me to ask questions, but I couldn’t really think of any, nothing like what the hell is that needle holder thing called, always too late. Overall it wasn’t much more than hanging out and shooting the shit, only someone is drawing on your arm and there’s a consistent dull sting going on.
Two hours gone and the tattoo was done. I finally got to see it in the mirror, which is way better than trying to look over the front of my shoulder. It looked so cool. I was happy with the final product.
He wrapped in saran wrap and gave me a long list of instructions. It felt like I was getting a Mogwai: Don’t get it wet, keep it out of the sun, don’t feed it after midnight. It seems odd that there aren’t more gremlins since they reproduce by getting wet. You know how hard it is to avoid water? Then again I suppose it’s just as hard to avoid the sunlight. I guess the death rate would be just as same as the birth rate. Final summation, I’m rambling.
I was now on a regimen of rubbing lotion on to my arm several times a day (or else it gets the hose again). It was like some kind of OCD. Though it was nice because now my arm felt like it had a mild sunburn. After a few days the sunburn feeling left, only to be replaced by a powerful itch, and I wasn’t supposed to scratch it. That was absolute torture. That was far worse than any of the pain I experienced during the whole tattoo process.
The thing I was not expecting was the psychological aspect. When I look in the mirror after the shower now I see this new marking on my arm and just knowing that is there forever is just a weird thing to know. I also feel like a different person too. I’m a person with a tattoo. It feels like there’s more confidence now. I can’t explain why exactly, but it’s definitely there and I like it.
This was a choice in my life I am happy I made.
Everyone I know with a tattoo has said that they are addictive. Never having experienced the tattoo, and not really having an addictive personality I didn’t put much stock in what they said and didn’t expect I’d fall victim to it. But I have. I am already planning out the next one.
This is not something that’s for everyone, but it is definitely something for me. I wish I had done it sooner, but I am glad that I waited and made sure everything was right. Wow, that sounded like an endorsement for abstinence if I ever heard one.
See ya in the hot seat…
06 May 2011 Lee S. Hart