et pierced fairly often and rarely take a piercing out, but I realize that they are temporary things, that my body can choose to reject them whenever it wants to, and that one day, perhaps, I might choose to take the majority of them out or might have to. But a tattoo is a permanent thing, unless one goes through the pain and discomfort of a tattoo removal, so, a tattoo is not something I get very often. But I have friends, or rather vague acquaintances that used to be friends, who know I like body modification, so, when they choose to get something done I am the one called. They ask for artist recommendations and moral support, and I usually provide both to the best of my ability.
One such person came to me at the end of October and announced she was going to get a tattoo on her birthday, I asked her what she wanted and she didn't know, and still didn't know by the time she'd turned 18. A month later she came back and said, "I think I want a butterfly". I told her that was fine, and I'd go with her and support her in February but if she wanted it before that I gave her a card to the place I'd gotten my first tattoo and said they were really nice guys. She asked me why I didn't want to go before then, and I couldn't tell her why really, only that I wanted her to wait a bit and think it over before getting something permanent. She follows trends and I guess I just didn't want her to get something she'd regret in twenty years.
During the months between November and February, I added a nape to my collection of piercings(among other things) and had made plans with my piercer for spinals in April, from the time the appointment was set until present(it's just now April 1st, I have two and a half more weeks to wait!) spinal piercings have been very much in the forefront of my mind. The friend would contact me from time to time with normal questions about the procedure and pain, which I honestly had no idea about since I'd never had a tattoo done between my shoulder blades, and had changed her mind about it three or four times, but she finally settled on getting it done electing to wait until March just to be certain she wanted it.
On Saturday March 20th, 1999, we drove to Gastonia, NC from our hometown in South Carolina, where tattoos (but not piercings) are illegal. I don't know if it okay to mention the name of the shop, but will anyway, it was Skin Art, the place I'd gone to get my first tattoo, there are four guys that work there and I've found all of the ones I'd ever met to be fairly nice guys with some lovely sleeve work. The only down side was that Saturday was the day picked by most South Carolinians to flee their home state for ink work and all the tattoo shops were fairly flooded and we didn't have an appointment. My friend signed herself up on the wait list and we sat down at approximately 5 o'clock. Time passes and we sit there talking to each other and the strangers also waiting for tattoos backdropped by various cd's playing on a stereo somewhere and the low buzz of tattoo machines. By six there are quite a few new names after my friend and only a few less above her, we go to dinner, she has a cigarette, one of the four tattoo artists go home, leaving three. By seven we're pretty comfortable with everyone around us and some sort of bonding has occurred. The chic who holds the list, copies ID's and helps people pick out designs and I have had a lengthy conversation on piercing. By nine we've read every magazine in the shop, looked through all the wall flash and many of the flash books, and a thought occurs to me. I toss it around my head for a while and finally discuss it with my companion, she thinks I'm crazy, but that is nothing new. I write my name on the list and discuss my design with the list chic, a simulated spinal piercing, and write my name on the list, I am the last person to sign up for a piercing before they stop taking people at ten.
Brief panic attacks me and I wonder once again if I am addicted to modification. I tell myself this is the piercing I will never take out, that will never reject, that will stand stamped out on my skin as a monument to the modifications that may one day be gone, and I am comforted. I get pierced for an aesthetic, I like to believe I get tattoos as a reminder. By eleven my friend is getting inked and the waiting room has emptied out considerably, only about six people remain, waiting for work to be done on them. I've given up and gotten a book from my car to read while waiting. By twelve there are five people in the waiting room, one with a large tattoo, two with small things, and then me and someone there for moral support. My friend has gone to the car to sleep after her tattoo was finished. By one it is me, one other, and the moral support. The large tattoo is getting done, it will turn out to be a beautiful black panther sleeping on the small of a girl's back. And at one the artist who will be working on me emerges from the private area to speak to me about design, I explain what I want and he discusses coloring with me, and then off he goes to the back again to work out the design. By one fifteen, it's me, moral support, and my friend, well rested from her nap, then the artist comes back out, his name turned out to be Rodney, and he shows me the design, it was beautiful. My friend approved and I was taken back to the tattoo area just as the black panther was being finished, the curtains are left open as I wasn't feeling particularly modest with my clothes still on. My shirt is tucked into my bra and placement is discussed. Rodney warns me about my pant line being right where I want the tattoo, but since the rest of my pants are cut higher than those, I vow I won't wear that pair again until I'm healed. I turn around, feel a spray, an application, then a spray and the design is whipped off, to be applied again until Rodney is comfortable with it. He hands me a mirror and gets me to check it out in front of one of the many full length mirrors around the area, I am at a weird angle, looking at the small of my own back, but it looked okay to me. I told him I was going to have to trust his judgement, and straddled the weight bench Rex had brought in from somewhere. Rodney reevaluated the placement, and reapplied the design. Cleaning is going on all around us as everyone else prepares to close down the shop, I apologize to Rodney for keeping him, but he does a nice job of reassuring me I'm not a huge pain in the ass. There's a nice flow of conversation that keeps my mind off of the buzzing behind me, and I lean on my hands, trying not to fall asleep. There wasn't any pain, just a vibration that eventually turned into a soreness, and each time Rodney stops to changed colors he asks how I'm doing, which was nice. Rodney finishes up just before two o'clock and I'm handed a mirror again to look at it before the big piece of gauze covers it up, it's red around it, but beautifully done. Rex, the other remaining tattoo artist and my friend both approve of it. Rodney tapes me up, once again warning me about my pants (which were left unbuttoned the entire way home), gives me an aftercare sheet and ointment, and sends me on my merry way. I washed the tattoo off as soon as I get home, as the sheet instructed, and went around looking at it in all the different mirrors, so incredibly pleased with the work I'd had done. I put a thin coat of ointment on, and went to be, sleeping on my side, wondering if I'd regret my quasi-impulse the next morning, but woke up still thoroughly delighted with it, and now, two and half weeks later, I'm still totally in love with it, even though it itched like mad for a little while. It is slightly larger than any spinal piercing I think I will ever have, with the little bit of bar showing being approximately a 2 gauge, and all in all it is about 2 inches long. The shading on it is beautiful as well as the metallic highlights on the balls, and I know I'm going back to the same shop for my next tattoo, whenever and whatever it may be.
So, I think that's everything, Tammy
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 15 April 1999