While the kids were away, I decided to play and get some new body art. This is not my first foray into the wild side. I had and removed at least two belly button piercings while in college and at one point, had up to three piercings in each ear. I know! Can you imagine? Multiple earrings? Belly rings? The horror! Sigh. It all seems to tame now. There are moms at pre-school pick-up with nose rings, but when I was in college, that was bad ass.
This time ‘round, I was aiming for a tattoo. This is also not my first time to that particular rodeo, but my first tattoo looked like it was drawn on with a Sharpie. That’s what you get from going to some backwater place in the wasteland between Pittsburgh and the Ohio border. Luckily, it was on my right (upper) thigh, so not a whole lot of people saw it. A few years later, I decided to add on to it. I had it designed by the artist who went ahead and filled out my previous tattoo, gratis, so as to “not make my art look like shit.” Well, ok then. At least this shop was in a town with a name on it, even if it was Greensboro, North Carolina.
Fast forward a decade or so (and change) and I am ready for my next piece of art. My money was in my pocket, the pieces of my design were in my hand, and I went to a tattoo parlor. I was ready, willing, and able. And yet, no ink. Nothing. Why? Because, to quote Pretty Woman, “the women were mean to me.”
The tattoo parlor in question or specifically, the heavily tattooed, pierced, hennaed, and dyed red-head who greeted me treated like a drunken 19 year-old on spring break ten minutes before closing time. I had not just crawled out from a bridge underpass and into their door. I had even showered that day! I was sober. I am so far over the legal age of consent that it is actually sad, and yet, I was still treated like trash. So I left. I did what any other right thinking individual would do in this situation and I vented on Facebook. Luckily, I have lots of good friends who pointed me in the right direction and hopefully, sometime in the near future, I will have a new tattoo.
But until that time, let me share my three simple rules of tattooing.
1 – Location, location, location. Don’t let your dolphin turn into a whale because you put it smack dab over your uterus. Babies stretch boobs and tummies far beyond all reason and will. Shamu isn’t going to diet itself back down to Flipper proportions. Along those lines, mind the gaps. If you are intent on becoming a corporate lawyer, perhaps the neck tattoo directly above your tie clasp isn’t the best idea and moving it down to your sternum would be better. I don’t believe you should hide your tattoos – but like clothing, hairstyles, and shoes, a tattoo makes an impression. If it isn’t one you would want to make on a complete stranger, then make sure you can cover it when appropriate.
2 – Look before you leap. Impulse tattoos and STDs have much in common – they are easily acquired, often unfortunate, and damn hard to get rid of. I had a friend who picked the Chinese characters for her name off a chart. As Chinese is not a letter-to-character language, who knows what the hell she actually has tattooed on her arm, forever. A little foresight or self-restraint goes a long, long way. If you want it, you’ll still want it in a few days.
3 – Your body is your temple. Don’t tramp stamp it. Don’t get something because it looks cool. Cool is relative. As Heidi says, one day you’re in, the next day you’re out. While a pair of flaming lips may be the classic ode to a classic band, you’d feel awfully stupid if you were sporting a Milli-Vanilli pair of dreadlocks on your back. Much like prayer, if you don’t mean it, it doesn’t count. So, make it meaningful.
It’s art, it’s interpretive, and it’s beautiful. But be wary, better to go through life without than with Wino Forever.