“So my girlfriend read your journal where you call me ‘beefy and resplendent’,” Kelly said, disinfecting my arm.
“Oh, God. You know, when I wrote that in my LJ, I never really thought you’d ever read it.”
“You sent me the link.”
“Yeah, I just … I’m not sure I consider the ramifications sometimes.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter. Every time me and the lady get into a fight, it’s nice to tell her that I have options.”
“Oh, you totally do.”
“Shut up and sit still.”
I did. A moment later, needles tore into my skin while my buddy Steve took pictures. It’s how we do.
Kelly's counter. Note the Dr Pepper! I sure did.
* * *
A little over half my ink Means Something. You know what I mean: the tattoos that have personal life ramifications. The Blue October one which I got the day after my first improv party, so I could capture that one special moment in time forever, when I look in a mirror or something because I put it on the back of my neck? Or the anchor, which symbolized not only my 13th tattoo, but my tenth anniversary with Shawn (who later got nearly identical ink). Stuff like that. I mean, if you stretch it, all of my ink can Mean Something, right down to the interobang and how it not only is about my love of writing, but also about how I met my friends Kenny and Matty and blah blah Kev, stop thinking so much. Even Super Mario has the whole Dad connection (actual recent conversation with Dad: “Remember that time you got me Super Mario 2 for my birthday and no one else had it and I loved it more than anything and it was a big deal?” “Um, no?”) But every one in a little while, I just sort of really like something and want it on me permanently.
Of course, I can’t be like Tracey when it comes to this stuff. “Oh, a pretty girl had a star on her neck, so I want a star on my neck, and OMG is that a pretty rose picture on the wall, because I like pretty roses, so you should inject that into my skin forever, OMG YOU GUYS I WANT A HEART LIKE AN ATOM DIAGRAM, and I want a street vendor with dodgy ink to do it!” Still, Tracey’s penchant for simple, pretty design has some advantages, most notably that they’re quick and small and are licked on by kittens. When it comes to design I like, the interstitial stuff that doesn’t necessarily impact my whole life, things get … big.
Look, it’s not as if The Jungle Book is my favorite film, or even my favorite Disney film. It might not even be in the Top Ten (for funsies, let’s see what would be in my Top Ten Disney films: The Rescuers, Robin Hood, Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin, Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Lion King, Tarzan, Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, and, for sentimental reasons, The Fox & the Hound. The Princess & the Frog may well make my list eventually but it’s still too new. Oh, look, I’ve digressed.) I like the song “Bare Necessities,” but it’s not my favorite Disney song. Even Tale Spin isn’t my favorite cartoon from the Disney Afternoon – that would be DuckTales (woo-oo!)
But there’s something about the character I relate to. He’s a voice of authority who also listens. He seems lazy, but he’s also responsible, and…
Oh, who the hell am I kidding? He’s a big roly-poly bear and he’s fun. Duh.
In the years I’ve been going to the Disney parks, Baloo has become my humungous squee moment. I’ve posed with Baloo. I’ve gotten pictures with Baloo. I danced with Baloo in the Castle Hub in the Magic Kingdom. That in itself is a reason to move it, shake it, and celebrate it. He’s a neat character, drawn in a style I like. Plus, I kind of wanted a character tattoo I could show off at the parks. It’s not weird!
I’d been playing around with the idea of the Baloo featured in my LJ banner, dancing with his arms out. In the original picture, he’s spinning Mowgli around; in my banner, he’s holding a huge old-fashioned Dr Pepper. But when you take stuff out of his hands, it looks like he’s gripping something invisible. I wrote to Kelly. “Is there anything you can do with his hands? Move his wrists up and not have the hands gripping?”
He wrote back: “I’ll do my best, but if I go with those specifications, he looks like he’s attacking.” And with no Don Karnage in sight!
Steve and I got to Chameleon a little early and Kelly showed me the things he’d been working on. “Now, I know you liked this first design, but I found this one online where he’s, like, dancing with his hands up, and I…”
“I love this one, let’s do it!”
Now, folks? We’ve done the tattoo thing before, and because I’ll probably get hyper detailed with my steampunk Dr Pepper tattoo for my birthday, I’ll just gloss it over from here: rending, searing pain. The coloring hurt more than the outline. Kelly’s got goddamn sexy arms. Took a break halfway through because oh my god the rending, searing pain. Seriously, how do I always forget it hurts this much? And then it was done, and now Baloo and I are constant companions. I can fall apart in his backyard!
(Oh, and quickly: I made the mistake of looking up images of Disney tattoos online the day before, and oh hell are there some godawful artists out there. I found one that made Baloo look afflicted with Bell’s palsy. And one where Simba was so misshapen that it was like looking into a poster arguing for animal euthanasia. There was momentary panic. It passed. As momentary things generally do.)
Three quick things before I jet:
1. Steve seems to have finally decided to get a tattoo. He may throw in with my whole Birthday Tattoo Party, the details of which I will enumerate once April has released me from its hectic grip.
2. You guys, the steampunk Dr Pepper design has gotten even cooler. And crazy intricate. Kelly copied a design for me, but I losted it. He’s assured me that he will post it to Facebook on Saturday, and I’ll share it all with y’all then. But fucko, is it going to hurt.
3. I think I found my new artist. His name is John, and he works with Kelly at Chameleon. I haven’t fully vetted him yet, but Kelly vouches for him, and he’s a big comic-book fanboy. So we’ll see. Oh, we’ll see.
It doesn’t have to mean anything to be awesome, I think. The next one’s going to not only be steampunk and Dr Pepper, but it will also be my Farewell To Kelly ink, so that’s a thing. This one didn’t have to be a thing. I saw a Barr about a bear and it turned out nifty. Sometimes, that’s all you really need.