We were sitting around in my friend Karl's living room, while his mom was in the hopo giving birth to a baby boy... 11 lb 6oz if I remember correctly (he was a ridiculously huge baby)... we didn't know what to do with ourselves... so we decided to give each other tattoos.
Trust me when I tell you NONE of them were awesome, none of them amazing, and all of them truly stupid... but we did it anyway. I only remember mine and the one my friend Kristina ended up with. I got a small rose on my forearm, she decided to tattoo "Pink Floyd" on her arm... only Kristina was not in the "right" state of mind that afternoon and tattooed "Fink Ployd", true story. Later, either that night or a day later (it has been over 20 years since this all went down, minor details are fuzzy) she attacked her own arm with salt and a wet wash cloth and scrubbed till it became a big bloody "Fink Ployd" free zone. I kept my flower. It's faded now, VERY faded... but it serves a purpose for me. Not only a memory of youth, and stupid decisions, but Karl (with his girlfriend Jen) was killed a few years later by a drunk driver. This faded little rose is my reminder of Karl.
I remember thinking back then that he and I would be friends for life, that we would both always be around... I was wrong. That is why I keep the ugly little tattoo on my arm that most people don't even notice since it's faded so much over the years. Those that do notice it usually have to ask "what's that?"... or my favorite "what's that say?", to which I reply "it says "it's a rose." In my head I think "it's a memory of Karl."
There is only one tattoo in the world that I would be willing to cover that rose with... but I'm just not ready for it yet. (I'm keeping it to myself in regards to what I would get there, because the tattoo would be for me, not you, ya know?) I know this because every year as the anniversary of his death draws closer (Nov 2nd) I find myself feeling very melancholy and sort of on the verge of tears for no apparent reason. It happens every year... every year since he died.
(this would be what the one on my leg looked like years AFTER it was done a 2nd time, and the red ink on the stem is just from a pen)
The next tattoo came along the summer when I was 15 after I let some crazy ass skin head named Justin, in Hyannis MA, tattoo (with an actual tattoo gun) the outline of a large rose, that my friend Abby drew, on the side of my calf. It was a far cry better than the one on my arm (& way bigger), but it still wasn't great. Years later when I was 19 my Mother couldn't take it anymore and told me to go get it fixed. I went to a tattoo shop in Norwalk CT and some guy there gave it color and shading etc... but the truth is, it still wasn't all that great. Cut to about 15 years later and I am sitting outside the local tattoo shop in town and the guy who owns the shop (who at the time was a good friend of mine, now... well... no.) .... I stare down at my leg and look up at him and say "what do you think? redo or remove?" He says "I was just thinking the same thing, come inside." 10 minutes later he's got the tattoo gun going on my leg.
When he was done..... I had this:
Way better, eh? Yeah, I didn't love it (specifically the white outline that made it look like it was a sticker, that shit took years to fade)... but... it meant more to me that someone (at the time) I considered a good friend had done it. Doesn't matter to me that were not friends any longer, it matters that we were back then. Don't get me wrong, he did a fantastic job, he's a VERY good tattoo artist, and he's done others for me, and redone another tattoo on the back of my neck and did a fabulous job on all of them.
There were other tattoos before that one was redone, quite a few... I've lost count honestly .. but all of them are in places that I could easily cover with hair (which once hung to my waist), clothes, or jewelry, plus my back was the only "canvas" I was saving... saving it for a flower garden... so there was very little back there until my big brother Mike (who is not blood related, but is totally my big brother) gave me the flower garden of my dreams.
My only stipulations? "no bright red, cover the turtles (*they were the turtles from the cover of "Terrapin Station" in the middle of my back) & no "real" flowers... just make 'um up... " ... and that's what Mike did.
I will eternally love this tattoo, and not even because it took almost a year to complete. (He lives an 8hr drive away, and while it technically only took 3 sessions of about 5 or 6 hours each, there was one hell of a fiasco, which I might very well post on this blog someday that makes me laugh now in retrospect, that prolonged the finishing of the tattoo) Not even because it's awesome (it totally is, Mike is an incredible artist)... but it's my constant reminder that Mike has always got my back... and he's one of the very few men in my life that have ever given me flowers. Funny that one... all but one of my tattoos (not including ones with words) have flowers in them... it should be a dead give away that I LOVE FLOWERS....but many guys are freakin' idiots, moreover many of the guys I've dated are idiots. (In fact, with the exception of my ex fiance, and "The Jerk" (yes, that IS my pet name for him, and it's said with ♥), they all were idiots)... Anyway... this is a before/after for ya (granted there is like over a 2 yr lapse between photos)
I haven't gotten any more since Mike finished my back, but I do plan to get one removed (the one over the wreath at the back of my neck above the words "je suis prest")... and I am pretty sure that rose on my leg is gonna get covered... and I am also pretty sure what I want covering it is a sugar skull.....
(not this one, even though it's totally bad ass, but I just wanted to put up a picture of one for anyone reading this (is anyone reading this?!) that didn't know what a sugar skull was)
(You know you can click on any picture and enlarge it, right?.. ok.. just a lil' FYI if ya didn't know)
Wait.. that's a lie, I did get one other... but it's not there anymore (?!).. my friend Rocco did a tiny little heart on the inside of my arm, but apparently my skin was in the same frame of mind as my soul at the time and completely rejected it. Seriously, all the color popped out and I have what looks like a tiny burn mark on my inner arm. I like to tease Rocco & tell him he "gave me heart burn."... and .. oh! right...then (oh man, I keep forgetting about the tiny lil' ones... my friend Gemma gave me one I was wanting for ages... a very simple little "X"... as in "X marks the spot" behind my ear.. you know, in the "sweet spot"... that place that when the one you're with kisses you there it makes you all weak kneed. Yeah, I always felt some of them could use the helpful tip.
(yes, I know it looks kinda wonky, but it's actually perfectly done... just an odd camera angle and the cream on it -since it had just been done a min. before the pic was taken- that distort the pic a bit)
So... why did I write this? What was the point? Well, tattoos have been on my brain lately because a friend of mine recently mentioned that she'd like to get one of hers covered... she's 20.. the tattoo is only 2 years old... and it's not a bad one, it's just not "her" any longer.
I think this is the problem with almost everyone that doesn't hold off a few years. Yeah, the legal age is 18... but... please trust me when I tell you that there is a 99% chance you will regret a decision you make at 18 when it comes to tattoos. (Thank fucking god I didn't sneak away at 13 to get Duran Duran lyrics on my arm!) Plus, they're super addicting (trust me on that one too!) I fully wish I never got that rose on my leg to begin with, and that wasn't even done by a professional the first time... well... he was a professional freakin' weirdo, that's for sure... but what did I know? I was just a stupid kid... now I'm just a sometimes stupid adult. The difference isn't so much the age as much as the years between then and now and all that I have learned.... but according to a story with a phrase I've loved since childhood that I had tattooed on my inner wrist, I'm not done yet:
"Ancora Imparo" (I am still learning.)(at age 87 in 1562)
...... and that's all I have to say about any of that..... for now.
wait, I lied.. I have one last thing to say... a few years back I was doing a manicure for this woman (because I used to run my own business doing mani/pedis- legally thankyouverymuch) and she says "your tattoo is upside down, why?"
I look at her and say "upside down? what do you mean?"
She replies "well I can't read it."
I just laughed at her and said "well, that's okay... 'cause I didn't get it for you, I got it for me."
I hope no one ever gets one for someone else, you will regret it....and PLEASE never put someone's name on you, specifically a significant other... it's basically the kiss of death for any relationship. Ask anyone that has done it. (* no, I was never THAT dumb.)
Should anyone reading this want to get a kick ass tattoo, one you will NOT regret because you have given it much thought and consideration....
Go see Mike "Deuce" at Tattoo Kamikaze in Rochester NY (actually, ALL the people that work there are phenomenal, and you'd be damn lucky to have any of them tattoo you)
check 'um out: they have a facebook page
&/or Jeff Gemma @ Secret Society Tattoo in Worcester, MA: Secret Society has a facebook page as well.
I'd also highly recommend Stephan Lanphear in Pittsfield, MA @ Lefty's World Famous Tattoo, 'cause holy crap he's amazing! (and a really sweet guy)