My First Tattoo
Let me preface this with a statement of inarguable fact: I am pale. Being pale enough to see my veins through my skin and seeming to glowing the dark, to me, has always been terrific. I decided at the ripe old age of eleven that being this heinously pale was a sign. I was literally the color of paper; I was destined to be drawn upon.
Unfortunately, I was impatient.
When I was 16, I started running with a crowd of fast and loose hooligans. Our lives were about drinking and hookah and Justin Timberlake bringing sexy back. Times. Were. Good. I was the odd man out though, because I was modification-less. Enough was enough.
That’s a person, by the way. No really, that was his name: the letter “J”. And he was an “artist”, by which I mean he owned some semblance of tattoo equipment and could doodle basic shapes. And, for a ride from Tempe to Phoenix, a whopping 20 minutes of our lives, he agreed to tattoo me while under aged without parental consent for a mere $30. I was so stoked I could hardly contain it.
I decided to get a heart on my left hip. I’d drawn it several times on my person with a sharpie and thought it was sexy and edgy and cute. I was a little delusional but such things happen with drunken 16 year olds. I’d also, in the midst of teenage angst, cut the same design in the same place. Though it was really an ill-begotten experiment in scarification, I was convinced by outside sources that such actions were self-injurious and generally a negative thing that crazy wackadoos did. So I told myself that tattooing this heart would prevent me from attempting again, even though I really just wanted a cool scar.
Eventually (which in the teenage vernacular roughly translates to “a week later”), J calls up the friend whose apartment we hung out at and said this shit was going down tonight. I was terrified. Would it hurt? Would it look good? Would my parents find out?
It was a fuckin’ joke. I laid down on a—get ready for it—inflatable couch in a dining room, Mike’s Hard Lemonade in one hand, cigarette in the other while my friends danced around us to the previously mentioned former *NSYNC member’s latest album. It took two fucking hours for a solid red heart taking up no more than three square inches with an outline as thick as a one of those super smelly permanent markers. The ones with the fat tips. Not Sharpies. You know which ones I mean, right? Yeah, you do.
For almost two years, I walked around with that piece of metaphorical poop on my person. I tried convincing myself it was good. I tried telling myself it was a fun memory. I tried pretending it didn’t bother me. Well, I’m apparently a horrible actress because all I ended up being was grateful I didn’t get hepatitis.
So then I tried getting it fixed. My first attempt was a month before my 18th birthday. The guy I was dating at the time wanted to try tattooing and I figured it’d be hard to make that damn heart any uglier. Well, if there was one thing that boy was good at, it was exactly making awful tattoos even more horrendous. Now instead of a solid red heart with a thick black outline, I had a red heart with a thick black outline…and black shading. Ugh.
So I went to a professional. He had done a mediocre Elvis portrait on a co-worker but I was 18, I didn’t even know how to research anything modification based, and I couldn’t stand that hideous fucking heart a second longer. He ended up alternating between gay-bashing and hitting on the lesbian friend I had brought with me. He didn’t talk to me at all and barely looked at what he was doing. Yet again, my catastrophe of a heart had just gotten worse. To fix the shading, he made the outline even thicker. At this point, my tiny heart tattoo had an outline that was an eighth of an inch wide at its thinnest and a quarter inch at its thickest.
I quit. I acquiesced to having something ugly on my body forever.
Enter Anji Marth.
Anji was a friend of friends and is an amazing tattoo artist at High Priestess in Corvallis, OR. I met her while on her summer tour and we became fast friends. During her stay in Phoenix, she tattooed a beautiful rose on my left hip and a pansy on my ankle. Having high-quality tattoos in such proximity to that shitfest made it intolerable. Within 6 months, I started talking to Anji about a cover up. She was my last hope before lasers. Luckily, she seemed stoked on my idea of an octopus and confident she’d be able to hide my heart-related shame.
When she came back to Arizona the following month, she spent two and a half hours on my cephalopod and the result…it’s amazing. I had previously been so embarrassed by my hip and now, all anyone has to do is ask what that tentacle is doing sneaking out of my waistband and I’m pulling my pants down to show off.
I’ve since named my octopus Walter because he’s too special not to have a name. He does such a phenomenal job of hiding heart…in my pants.
submitted by: JuliaIrys
on: 06 Sept. 2011
in Cover-up Tattoos