Why do we get tattoos? Sure, they look pretty, but so do things that don’t hurt and/or cost so much. I’ve just returned from a 5 hour tattoo appointment. I have many tattoos, but until today, I only had one that took multiple sessions. I don’t like pain, so I can’t sit for very long. But I willingly went down to see my tattoo artist, requested that he repeatedly stab my entire lower leg with an electric paintbrush for hours on end, and then paid him for it. Why? There are so many other things that my hard-earned cash could buy that don’t involve masochism. Actually, I should specify. I’m not masochistic, since I do not enjoy being in pain atall. AT ALL. If you’ve never had a tattoo, allow me to explain. Imagine a cat scratching you. Mildly annoying, but you can deal with it, right? (Unless you’re a hemophiliac, in which case DO NOT GET A TATTOO.) Now imagine that same cat scratching you over and over and over again in the same place. For hours. Sometimes in ridiculous places. Of course different people have different tolerances for pain, and there are parts of the body that are more painful to get scratched or tattooed than others (this varies person to person too), but it’s the best description I have thought of in the 15 or so years that I have been putting myself through this. Luckily, the pain is temporary while the resulting artwork lasts a lifetime. So, the longer you sit for a tattoo, the more it hurts. This is exactly why the majority of my ink (13/15, unless I’m miscounting – which is entirely possible) has been completed in 2.5 hours or less. I know what my pain tolerance is, and I find designs that can be accomplished in this time. Until recently. I had some hairbrained idea to devote a large portion of my body to visually represent my love of the outdoors in an homage to both my hometown and my current home. I wanted a new work of art though – actual, award winning, beautiful art that both my artist and I would proudly show off, and that would make random passersby’s jaws drop. Brian was excited when I told him my plan. I was excited that he was excited. Until today. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I was there for 5 hours, yet astute readers will remember me saying I can only sit for 2.5 for a tattoo. What were we doing for the rest of that time? Planning out this opus, with markers. I loved that part, by the way. Someone could draw on me with markers all day long and I would be as happy as a rainbowed clam. I even traced my progress via instagram: Step 1: draw the parameters.
Step 2: Draw the trees.
Step 2.5: Draw the mountains, and figure out where the faerie (des’ first tattoo!) will fit in. Step 3: Make it even cooler with colors and depth!
Step 4: Apply permanent ink! (Thank you Brian, for this cameo!)
Step 5: Complete Phase 1. Repeat once per month, as required, until finished.
About 2 hours in, I stopped trying to actually look at my leg to see the progress, and flat out asked how much more there would be. Brian and I both knew going in that we wouldn’t finish it tonight, so there was an unspoken stopping point. In fact, he wanted to go over a few more spots again, but I pleaded with him to wait until next time. Yes, I know that will make it take more sessions. I don’t care. I can’t handle this pain anymore! I apologized for being such a wuss, to which he replied with a laugh and the admission that he’s the same way. I asked if he had any tricks, since all the ones I know of (namely alcohol and/or painkillers) hinder the process by thinning your blood. His trick? One or two of the airplane-sized bottles of whiskey. Won’t that thin the blood, I asked? Not that little amount – it’s enough to take the edge off, but not fully complicate things. Just don’t binge drink the night before, which is not a problem for me anyway.
So I’m going to try a nip of the clear liquid next time. In exactly a month from today. I’ll let you know how it goes.