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My First Tattoo

thought of getting a tattoo has always crossed my mind. I came close to getting one in Maryland in 1997, when I was living in Hagerstown - but never did, mainly because the place to get it done was in Chambersburg, PA, a 30 minute ride north of Hagerstown on I-81. My brother-in-law had a "skin tear" tat done there. I went with him when he had to have some areas of the tat colored in. I showed one of the guys a tattoo of a lizard I wanted and was told it was going to cost over $200. That was $200 I didn't have. I haven't though about getting one -- until now. Its been about 2 years since I moved back up north from Maryland. A tattoo artist by the name of Keith comes into where I work quite a bit. He does really cool work and I told him I wanted to get a tattoo and he said that I should. He works at a tattoo studio called Peter Tat2 in Lebanon Springs, NY. Tattoos are still illegal in Mass and the studio was just a 20 minute drive away. He gave me one of his cards.

Just recently, I decided that I WAS going to get one done. The lizard tattoo came to mind and I was able to find a design that I liked. The tattoo was going to be black with red eyes. I'm getting it done on the left side of my chest. On Monday, March 22, I called Keith to set up an appointment. Thursday is the only day I have off from work so I decided to get it done on Thursday, the 25th. The appointment is for 3 PM. I talked to a girl at work and she said she would take me. However, she had lots to do that day so I had a friend take me there.

I arrived at the tattoo studio shortly before 3. The studio was located in the Midtown Mall in Lebanon Springs, NY. I walked upstairs to the door of the business and walked in. It was a bright place -- not dark and gloomy like some studios are. Its a very clean studio as well. Proper procedure is followed to the letter. All needles are changed and ink is not reused. There were thousands of tattoos on the walls and more in Keith's portfolio near the seating area. I saw one lizard tattoo that I loved. But it was huge. I decided to go for the one that I designed. Keith saw me and said "What's up?" When he saw me he knew who I was. He remembered me from the store where I worked. He told me to come on in and look around. I brought over a couple of coffees from D&D (Dunkin Donuts) for him and put them down on the counter in the tattooing room. Keith was tattooing some guy's arm. He told me to check it out. It was pretty cool looking. He took a break and said it would be a 15 minute wait before it would be my turn.

During the break he asked me what kind of tattoo I was looking to get. I told him a lizard. He asked me where I was planning on having the tattoo done. I told him on my chest. The look on his face said it all. It was going to hurt. He said that it wouldn't be that bad. He said that If I wanted pain I should get a tattoo on my ribcage. That hurts! He said he was tatting some guy's armpit and the guy was screaming. These stories made me even more nervous. He said not to worry, that it wouldn't hurt nearly as bad as I though it would. He went back and finished up the tattoo on the guy's arm. Once finished, he took my design and made a tracing. I decided to leave the middle of the lizard's body unfilled. It would go from dark on the outside and then lighter as it went in. I also added some red eyes. With that, he went to the copier and made a copy of it and went into the tattooing room and prepared for the tattoo by changing the needle in the machine and placing fresh black ink in a small disposable clear cup. He had a pair of blue latex gloves on as well. I watched as he prepared. Keith was ready to go and called me in. He told me it would be a piece of cake. I went ahead and took of my shirt. Keith told me to stand up straight so he could place the drawing of the tattoo on my chest. First he put soap on the area and then placed the lizard on the soapy area. This left an impression of the lizard. I looked in the mirror to see where it was placed and was happy with its location. I took a seat on the chair and he reclined it so I lying down at a 45 degree angle or so. He was going to fill in a small area of the tattoo's outline first so that I could feel what it was going to be like. He asked if I was ready and I said yes. He told me to breath normally and not hold my breath because that makes the pain worse. I could feel myself shaking, but my heart wasn't pounding. I was sweating too. He said don't worry, that by the time he was finished, he'd be able to ring out the chair. Pix 106 (a radio station in Albany, NY) was tuned in on the radio and I closed my eyes and focused on the music as he was about to begin. Suddenly the tattoo machine came alive with a buzzing noise and the outlining was started. The feeling of the needle entering and exiting my chest at a high velocity was very strange. It did hurt. It wasn't an excruciating pain but more like a burning sensation. Some areas, like the upper part of my chest were more sensitive. He said I was doing good especially since this was my first tattoo and it was being done on my chest. He filled in the outline in small steps. After 15 minutes or so, the outline was complete. Keith dabbed away excess ink and some blood. The filling of the lizard was next. After a minute or so, the machine began buzzing again and the feeling was less sharp. I asked him why and he said he was using circular motions to fill in the tat. He was using straight motions for the outline, which produced the cutting and burning sensation. There were times when it was more intense than others, but over all it wasn't too bad. After 40 minutes, the lizard's body was done and the red eyes were put in. At last the tattoo was finished.

Keith sprayed some stuff on the tattoo to clean it up. The stuff burned a bit. I stood up straight and he took some Bacitracin and rubbed it over the tattoo. Then he put a bandage over it and taped the bandage to my chest. He told me to keep the bandage on for an hour or two and then to remove it to allow the tattoo to breathe. I was told to wash the area with a mild, disinfecting soap and then dab a thin layer of Bacitracin over the tattoo at least 3 three times a day for 2 to 3 days and then stop using it. He told me it would be about 2 weeks before the tattoo was completely healed. He said it would scab over and peel and that it was normal. He said I should use a lotion to keep the tat from drying out. He gave me an instruction sheet so I would remember the steps. He told me that after it was healed, some areas of the tattoo may need to be filled in again. It would be free since the tattoo is guaranteed for life. He congratulated me and shook my hand. The tattoo cost a buck ($100). I wasn't surprised by this figure since I guessed it cost at least that.

I put my shirt back on and said thanks. He said I looked like the kind of person who would be coming back for more. You know what? He was right 100%! I'm already planning to get another tattoo on my calf. And the tat on my chest is only 3 days old!

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 15 April 1999
in Tattoos

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