Ok, so my tattoo – “she eez a finito!” Only took me one year from start to finish, but this past Tuesday, tattoo artist extraordinaire, Leah Smith at Fatty’s Custom Tattooz on Connecticut Avenue put the finishing touches on my labour of love.
I had drawn my tattoo on a piece of paper and carried it in my wallet for about 8 years. Then one day last summer, I was riding my bike when I passed by Fatty’s, hit the brakes and said, “Today is the day!” I hadn’t planned on it and it was the last thing on my mind. But I summoned my courage, took a deep breath, and went for it.
About 98% of the work was done over a three month period last summer – from June ‘til the beginning of August 2004. It was four sessions of 4 hours each. I went back this week for a touch-up and to re-ink the areas where I had some difficulty healing. This week’s session only took about 15 minutes. And after the first 2 minutes, I was asking myself, “How in the world did I ever sit through 16 hours of this last summer??”
Getting tattooed must be a lot like giving birth: if we actually remembered how bad it feels, we would only go through it once. The first time Leah touched me with the needle last night, it stung like mad. Today, I don’t even remember the pain.
Speaking of which, the most painful part of getting the tattoo is the part that you don’t see in the picture above. The dragon’s tail wraps around the under part of my arm. Umm . . . ouch! Originally, when I designed this tattoo, I knew I wanted something that wrapped around my arm, but I didn’t want a traditional armband – which by now everyone has and it lacks originality. In 40 years, nursing homes are going to be full of old soggy men -- all with similar looking armband tattoos. (I want mine to stick out when I get wheeled into the cafeteria for my lunch of jello and creamed corn.)
So project complete – which as most tattooees will tell you signifies the beginning of the next project; one I designed about three years ago, a creative design of my first name. It will either go on my opposite arm, or perhaps between my shoulder blades. I am not sure which yet.
But one day, I will be out riding my bike, or driving the jeep, or even taking a walk – and after summoning some courage, it will start all over again.