Saturday, November 13, 1999

Stand In the Place Where You live

So, it’s official: tattoo 2 is now on the body! What a trip!

Tracey, Diane, Shawn and I all packed into Diane’s car from my house early this morning. We needed to stop back here in Somerville for Shawn’s boom box and his tat design, and we were off to Portsmouth, New Hampshire! Portsmouth: where there are plenty of places to shop and eat, and they all close at 5!

Years ago, Shawn had been in Portsmouth to go to Hobo’s, a tattoo shop (not parlor) near the edge of town to get his large, swirling S shape on his right arm. In preparation for this trip, we all visited Hobo’s web site, and found it to be one of the most reputable, cleanest tat facilities in all of New England. Tracey and I had idly been talking about going on a tattoo road trip for awhile; armed with Shawn’s knowledge of the perfect tat shop (and Diane’s car), we were ready to make the dream a reality.

It’s funny. You travel two hours to a tat place, you stop into the shop and inspect the designs on the wall, you meet and chat up the proprieters (Hobo, of course, and Tattoo George), you eat a really terrific lunch at the Muddy River Smokehouse, and still you don’t think this is going to happen. The whole idea of tattooing has, until this year, been so foreign to me. After the whole experience, Tracey and Diane said they felt the same way: Yeah, I’m not really getting a tattoo. Until it happens.

My new tat is the design inside the uncut edition of The Stand. The design is special to me in a couple ways. One, I love the book. You know, the whole Stephen King connection. Two, I like the idea of an outward sign of good vs. evil upon my body. That’s my constant struggle, waging inside me. It’s nice to have it visible.

The best reason is this: The Stand was one of the Christmas presents I received at The Best Christmas Ever. My Mom gave me two hardcover King books and a bunch of paperbacks, and I was in my glory. So, it stands (no pun intended) as an important symbol in my life. It was a good choice.

Apparently, I was the calmest of all of us. That’s kind of strange. The other three stood and watched me at the beginning, and remarked later at how aloof and casual I was during the whole process. I guess I just forced myself to relax and stay calm; it helped that Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” played on the radio behind me. I won’t steer you wrong: tattooing really hurts. That bullshit about it being “annoying” or “like a cat scratch” is just plain wrong. The good news is, when he takes the needle away, you feel better instantly, and the sharp, stinging pain doesn’t last when your tat is done. Keep it clean and moist, and you’ll have no problems.

Shawn had been through the process before. He got a cool-looking sun with a half-face on the arm opposite his curlicued S. He explained that the S was like a river (water), and the sun is fire. It’s a cool concept and an even cooler tat. I hope to get a pic of it in here soon.

Of all of us, I was sure Tracey was going to be the one to wimp out. Shawn and I have had them before, and Diane seems kind of, I don’t know, tough. Tracey’s always been very much a girly girl. That’s not a judgement, just an observation. Whereas Tattoo George got Shawn and I in his chair, Hobo took Tracey into his room and put her on the table. She had gone into Hobo’s with the idea that she wanted a rose, in the fatty part of her side. There was a blue rose hanging up in the shop she decided on, and while I had my doubts, that was what she had permanantly imprinted on her skin. It was a fairly small tat, but some of the faces she was making seemed like she was in excruciating pain. She told us later that there were actual pools of sweat forming under her palms. Getting your body scarred for life is a trying process.

Diane was last. She seemed pretty confident about the tattooing process, but unclear as to what she actually wanted. She knew she wanted a spider, and saw an example in a book she liked, but the abdomen was wrong. She wanted it a somewhat translucent blue, the color of the sky in a certain Michael Whelan painting, and more tapered than round. While waiting, Shawn drew a swift sketch of what he thought she wanted. She proclaimed it perfect, and Hobo set to work.

I think she was the only one who cried. Not huge, hitching sobs, but pain-crying that she couldn’t really help. Shawn and I stopped in at one point, and her face was horribly contorted, trying not to scream out. Tracey mouthed: “Go away.”

Maybe that’s part of the reason why I felt confident and easy when I got mine done. It hurt, as previously stated (especially when he was near the bone), but I think I wanted to give a good impression of tattooing to Tracey and Dianne.

God, I think I’m addicted. I’m already thinking about my next one. Not for three years. It’s an arbitrary number, one I want to try to stick to. I love the tat process, and having them, but I don’t want to go crazy. I don’t want to be like Ron was. I probably don’t want them on my forearms, or chest, and definitely not face. Or my dick. Ouch.

Okay, enough outta me. Shawn is downstairs, cold and alone, and he just made me a nice dinner. I like the idea of our closeness right now.

Night for now. Kev