Monday, May 16, 2005

Tattoo You

Got a tattoo? Me either, but I've always toyed with the idea of getting one - especially in recent years. I haven't done so for a couple of reasons. Among the most obvious was that until about five years ago, the practice was illegal in Massachusetts. I didn't mind the idea of breaking the law - I just felt that by going to any underground tattoo artist I was likely to find, I was running the risk of "getting inked" by a hack job who would give me both a bad tattoo and a blood-borne disease. I know a guy who actually had this happen to him (well - the bad tattoo part anyway), but it was partly his own fault. Talking to him once, I couldn't help but notice he had the words "SALTY FOREVER" tattooed on his forearm. When I asked him what the hell it meant and why he had it tattooed on his arm, he informed me that many years ago when the practice was still illegal, he made an appointment with an underground artist he found through a "friend of a friend." When the fateful day came, he got all liquored up (also a no-no - many artists will not tattoo anyone who's been drinking because it thins the blood and causes excessive bleeding during the process) and told the man the words he'd like tattooed on his arm. Easy enough, right? Not exactly... you see the guy had had just a little too much to drink, and his Boston accent was so horrifically bad that when he said he wanted the words "Southie Forever" (meaning South Boston for all you non MA residents), the artist misinterpreted "Southie" (pronounce SOUT-hee by those who are from there) as "Salty" and actually tattooed that on his arm, where it still remains. Why he never attempted to get it repaired is beyond me. Thankfully though, the law banning tattooing, in place since the 1960's, was repealed in 2000 and as a result, a strict set of health codes and standards were put in place for any parlors who decided to open up shop within the state's borders.

So, now that the law is repealed I have no excuse, right? Eh... I don't know. I still have some misgivings, mostly related to design. Two of my friends, Nic & P.J., run their own tattoo shop called Energy Tattoo out in Santa Barbara, CA (by the by, those two are the best tattoo artists in Santa Barbara - bar none. If you're in the area, check them out. You'll be thoroughly impressed with their designs and will probably want to roll up your sleeve right then and there.) When Nic & I were casually discussing the art of tattooing one day, and I asked her about the various methods of removal, she pretty much scoffed. Basically, she told me that there are no sure-fire methods to remove a tattoo, and that the one method most people seem to cite as safe and effective - laser removal surgery - is not only very expensive, but also very painful (often times more so than getting the actual tattoo.) Even worse, the results are far from guaranteed - something to think about when you're about to get your girlfriends name drawn inside a heart on your arm. Countless dumbells the world over have done this (Johnny Depp having Winona Ryder's name tattooed comes to mind) as a way of professing their love for their significant other. Shame no one told them they were just professing their idiocy. In other words, if you're getting a tattoo you'd better be damn sure you like what you're getting and are prepared to have it permanently - as in the rest of your life.

And that folks, is my problem. There's only one design I've ever seen that I'd get tattooed (on the side of my leg incidentally, midway down the calf muscle - were I to ever get it.) Unfortunately, I can't remember where I saw it and I've been unable to find it since, despite some pretty thorough searches. The design was that of a Celtic triad which supposedly symbolized rebirth and renewal. You'd think that would be a pretty easy thing to find, but alas - I've come up with nothing but various maze-like drawings. This is the closest thing I've found, but even that's a bit wrong as the design I saw had more going on at the bottom point of the triangle and wasn't so despicably trendy. This is typical me though, and I suppose it's what I get for not being able to pick anything simple. My roommate? He's got the right idea. Tattoos on both arms - the ying/yang symbol on one and the Mercedes-Benz logo on the other - these are simple, good-looking designs that get the point across. I have to pick something deliberately complicated and obscure enough to ensure that the chances of my actually finding it, much less getting it tattooed are pretty slim. And maybe that's not such a bad thing. I mean, have you seen them needles on those tattoo guns? Friggin' things must hurt.


***Oh- and because this is my blog I'd like to throw a plug in for Nic & PJ's newly opened online business. The Traditions Collection features clothing, lighters, wine bottles (with what I'm sure is superb wine inside contained therein), and prints of original tattoo art done by some phenomenal tattoo artists. I picked up a print and a couple of t-shirts just the other day. Give 'em a looksee and place an order, won't you?***

3 Comments:

Anonymous eowab said...

That Salty Forever story reminds me of the guy I know who knows a guy that went to a wedding reception and the groom made an announcement for every table to pick up their center piece and under the center piece was a picture of the bride and the best man having sex.

Or my other friend who knows a guy that died from mixing Pop Rocks and coke.

Or my other friend who knows two girls from his high school that had to have hot dogs surgically removed...uh well never mind.

Eric - what are you trying to start a tatoo urban legend? I'll believe that story when I meet this guy with Salty Forever tatooed somewhere on his body.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

You'll be waiting a while then. He's dead. The guy was a bartender at my local (TC's Lounge) when I was living in the Back Bay. Big ass guy who we just called Big Anthony - easily over 300 pounds and smoked like a chimney. Apparently he had a massive heart attack behind the bar a couple months ago and died on the spot. So NOW how do you feel? I realize this story sounds even less plausible now that I've mentioned this but I can get corroboration, I tell you.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous eoawb said...

I don't feel bad. Although I wouldn't wish that upon anyone, I did not cause his demise.

How convenient for you???

9:26 PM  

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