“This is your first one, right?”
“And you’re sure you want it on your hand?”
“And you want it to be this word?”
“And you know it’s permanent, right?”
“Are you sure you…”
“AAAAARRRGGGGGHHHH!” I said as I jumped across the counter and ripped the guy’s head from his colorfully tattooed neck, throwing it out into the busy street below.
And so went my experience getting my first tattoo. Sure I didn’t actually rip dude’s head off, but it was pretty tempting. Either that or ripping out those big ass earrings in his ears like all those Indians were wearing in Apocalypto.
I’ve tried getting a tattoo before, but obviously, could never commit to it. It’s always the same reasons: it’s permanent; it could affect my career choices when I’m older, it might look stupid, not exactly sure where to get it, too much money and I’m not sure that professing my membership in NAMBLA will help me out in the lady department.
The closest I came was going to a tattoo parlor in Clarksville, Tennessee, (town motto: Only 68 percent of our strippers have C-Section scars!) with my sister. The place was complete chaos and was organized about as well as Ellis Island. Disheartened by the whole process we instead opted to wait until we could find a better place.
Fast forward three years or so and we find ourselves outside of a place called “Curious Tattoo” in College Park, Maryland, (town motto: We don’t know the meaning of “underage drinking”!) ten minutes after 1 p.m. The reason we were outside was because, though the sign on the door said the place opened at 1, the door was still locked, because nobody had shown up yet.
Really though, how difficult must it be to be somewhere at 1 p.m. on a Saturday? I mean, the place already opens at a random, stupid ass time, how can you be late for that?
Tattoo Jerk: Yawnnn! (checks bedside clock) Oh wow, it’s already one! Oh well, I’m already late, I might as well get another four hours of sleep.
My sister tried to warn me when we arrived. Appointments were a hit or miss thing at these places. The key was so show up before a line forms. We thought that we had managed to do just that. But nothing is so cut and dry in a tattoo parlor!
You know what would simplify things? 1) a numbered-ticket system, like they have at the DMV, and 2) somebody who runs the counter who isn’t a tattoo artist or piercing artist. Because when they’re busy in the back drawing random things on people, the front area keeps getting more and more full of people wandering around. And who is to say who came first? Who’s to say who has an appointment?
I get that the whole concept of tattoos is about being a rebel, a non-conformist and all, but it doesn’t have to be such mayhem! One can be a rebel without being an anarchist. Don’t tattoo parlors have business models? Do they get together for annual conferences where they attend such lectures as “How to make people wait in your office for three hours for no good reason,” “Making up random, expensive prices on the spot while keeping a straight face,” and “Tips to undermine your potential clients’ desires.”
It’s that last one that really pisses me off. I dig that they want to make sure people coming in actually want what they want, where they say they want it, but there are better ways of doing it. The guys at the place I went to acted like they were lawyers, cross-examining everybody who came in. They were practically telling people not to get what they wanted. I couldn’t tell if it was because they all studied how to be tactless jerks in some sort of class*, or if they were just lazy and didn’t want to do a lot of work. I bet it was a little from column A, and a lot from Column B.
Truly, it’s frustrating. You finally decide what you want and where you want it, (after days, weeks, months or years of deliberation) you psych yourself up enough to do this thing, (because when you think about it, in this day and age, a tattoo is more of a commitment than marriage. Isn’t that wacky?) and when you show up with a hesitant, yet optimistic smile on your face, some Mohawk wearing freak with barely an inch of uninked skin left on his face asks you if you’re sure you want a tiny ass heart with “MOM” on your left bicep (or something similar)!
Do you think Mike Tyson had to go through that bullshit when he got his face tatted? I bet he didn’t. He probably ripped the guy’s tongue out so he couldn’t say anything or offer any advice. I think I’ll do that next time. It’s much easier than trying to pull heads off.
*Tactless Jerkishness 101, offered at the University of Maryland up the street.