So, what I’ve decided to do is tackle all the awesome my life has been recently in a jumbly, Tarantino-esque way, recollected out of order. And why am I doing it this way? Because I got a new tattoo! And this pervert took pictures!
Tracey explained awhile back that she was sort of on the jazz about a Headstones tattoo. For those not in the know: The Headstones are a “band” fronted by irascible showman and part-time actor Hugh Dillon. Oh, haven’t heard of Hugh Dillon? It’s because he’s Canadian.
“So, a Headstones tattoo, huh?” I responded.
“Yeah, I know, isn’t it awesome?”
“Tracey,” I said. “Tattoos of Canadian bands are stupid.”
“And what are you getting?”
“Barenaked Ladies, of course!”
Our orignal concepts. Canadian bands. Wow.
Tracey was weirdly confident as we strode into Chameleon yesterday afternoon (getting there at noon, right when they open. Because we’re those people.) Kelly the Wonder Tattooist was there, looking all portly and rockabilly with his jet black hair shot through with a bright red streak. Have I mentioned my weird and perhaps financially unhealthy crush on my tattooist?
I showed him my BNL design (handing over another concert T-shirt. It’s been long-accepted that I’m a total dork. This was underlined by him saying, “Well, I have to say that your Star Trek communicator is the absolute nerdiest tattoo I’ve ever done.” He and Tracey cracked up a little as I seethed.) and he studied it a little. “I want it to sort of compliment the Springsteen one on my other arm,” I explained. “What do you think?”
The initial idea to leave the outer oval white was discarded almost at once. “With lines that close together, they’re going to bleed in. Besides, if we make the oval black, it’ll better match the Springsteen one.”
...which is totally true
I conceded at once, wincing only a little thinking of the extra pain all that filling in was going to cause me.
As he prepared his room, Tracey – who had been prepared to go to a different tattooist for today’s stuff – turned to me and whispered, “Kelly seems nice today. I think I will go with him.”
Now, some quick backstory: the last time Tracey and I went to Kelly together, I was getting my interobang and she was getting her back-of-the-neck star. As you might remember, as Kelly put the design on her neck and asked her if she was ready, Tracey flipped out and jerked forward, screaming, “No!!! I want the star tilted!”
Since then, Tracey has complained that Kelly was “super mean” to her that day. Since she’s gone off on her tear, I’ve been wondering about it. Yes, Kelly’s a terrific artist, but am I forgiving a pissy attitude because I’ve got a boner for him? I decided I needed backup. (No, not Veronica Mars’s dog.)
I have a co-worker named Tami who took my advice and went to Kelly and raved about him. She also brought her girlfriend to him for her first tattoo, and when I asked about it, she said Kelly was very accommodating and gentle about the whole thing. On Friday, I called Tracey.
“You know, I think your whole Kelly meanness thing is in your head.”
“He’s nice to you because you fawn over him,” she said. Then, very definitively, she said, “I think he just doesn’t like girls.”
So I explained the whole Tami and her girlfriend story, underlining it all at the end by saying, “Maybe, just maybe, the problem is you.”
“Yeah, whatevs,” she responded. I thought it was a compelling argument.
So today, when she’s made her decision to go to Kelly for her tattoo after all, I looked at her askance. She sighed. “Well, if I’m going to get important ink, I should probably go with someone I know does a good job.”
I raised my eyebrows. “And?”
She mumbled something. I asked her to clarify. Huffily, she said, “Okay, maybe he was mean to me because I freaked out and jerked my head away right as he was about to tattoo my neck. Happy?”
* * *
It’s funny – “funny” is the word we’re using here – how three years makes you forget how unbelievably fucking painful getting a tattoo on your inner arm is. Holy mother of Christ!
Kev in bearable, hilarious pain!
Weird, though, how the pain ebbs and flows. He started off and it was like woodchucks with razor teeth were making their way through my flesh. Tracey was right there with the supportive shoulder-rubs and the taking of pictures, but literally there was a few minutes where I thought I’d go blind from the pain.
Everything is un! Everything is unFIN!
Then it … it doesn’t go away, but there’s a euphoria that comes in after awhile. Maybe it’s an internal coping mechanism or maybe it’s just something we do consciously to make us handle agony better. I’m not sure. I’ve done masochism in the past and it’s almost the same thing, but not quite. Here, it’s like something is being created out of pain, and it hurts but it’s awesome at the same time. Explaining it fails because I’m not sure I have the vocabulary for it. Either that, or there aren’t words for it. It’s like trying to tell me the difference between certain shades of blues and greens. It’s like trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll.
I guess it's over now, cause I've never seen so much, never seen so much, never seen so much blood!
Eventually, Shawn showed up and showed massive indifference to my hurty time. He waited in the lobby, sipping soda (right next to the NO FOOD OR DRINK sign, mind you) and leafing through his Avengers comics. That’s my sweetie.
That's my sweetie!
Meanwhile, Kelly’s finishing me up, and the euphoria seems to be fading. Also fading is the weird erotic component that comes with being tattooed. It’s almost the same charge I get from Rocky or improv or massages, but again, not quite. Getting inked is entirely its own entity. The singular nature of it is why I keep going back, time and again.
* * *
Ink and ring
After I got bandaged, Kelly took a look at the Headstones sketches Shawn made for Tracey, as well as the Headstones ring she hasn’t taken off in about three years. (That fact alone was what convinced me that the Headstones idea was an okay one for her. She’s proven that she likes the band – or at least Hugh Dillon – enough to wear a ring for three years straight. So why not permanence?)
"No, I do this for everyone. I'm kind of a hooker!"
Tracey laid back in the chair, so confident and happy. “My wrist tattoo hurt the most,” she said. “No way this could hurt in any way as much as that. It’s on my hip! How hurty could that be?”
Kelly placed the outline down and hesitated. “Don’t talk or giggle,” he said to her. He looked at me. “Don’t make her talk or giggle.” Apparently, we talk and giggle a lot at the inkslingers’ shop.
It was around now that Tracey would have punched a baby to make the pain stop.
“You ready?” he asked her.
“I sure am!”
“Okay.” Then he laid into her skin and I thought she was going to die.
Tracey’s eyes closed at once and she got completely silent, as if someone were murdering kittens and if she spoke, they’d start murdering puppies, as well. She gasped a little. Then a little more. Her eyes opened and there were tears in them. I alternated between taking pictures and holding her hand. Later, she told me that there was a period of a couple of minutes when she was about to say, “You know what? Half a tattoo’s fine. I’ve gotta go.”
The fact that this could either be "big big pain" or "I'm having an orgasm" makes me happy that Tracey never got into hardcore S&M.
Then her euphoria kicked in, and she was able to smile. I shot more pictures, and before twenty minutes was up, she was done.
This is my vaguely-less-in-pain face!
We headed out of the shop, bloody and hurty and on our way to Fall River. “So,” I joked, “what’re you getting for your next one?”
Tracey laughed. “Yeah, I don’t know, and it’s not going to be for awhile yet.”
She read my tone. “Kevin, you just got one! You got one three weeks ago! You can’t possibly want another one yet!”
Oh, but as I sit here with my bubbly skin and throbbing pain, I actually do. I have an idea, and it’s a good one. And I’ve got a birthday coming up in a few months.