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HOW I GOT MY TAIL

Got My Tail Do you, my hypothetical, non-existent reader, have a tail? You heard me. Do you have that distinctive posterior elongation of your animal body? Cola. Schwanz. Rabo. Queue. Call it what you choose. If you, dear creature, can read this page, you most certainly - and most sadly - do not bear a tail. But I do, and it is of my own design, on my torso emanating from the base of my spine and slapping me on my rump. It is the reason I do not care to expose my bottom where others might behold my caudal appendage: it is not for casual public observation. Tailless bipeds would gawk and perhaps venture to ask asinine questions. Mine is a private tail, all mine, and I would not detach it from me if I could. Its a part of me, a physical part of my body as it will be of my cadaver. I will be buried with it tucked neatly inside my trousers. My purpose now is to explain how I acquired my caudal termination in the first place, not because I expect others to emulate my example like mimicking apes, but to lay bare my motives. (This bit of writing will never see the light of day—or even the white of a sheet of paper most likely, so full, blunt candidness is our stricture here.) On my fleshy and all-too-bounteous behind I sport the tattoo of a devil's tail, artfully arising from the base of my spine below my waist, curving to the right and covering an ample portion of my corpulent right buttock. The outline is a thick, dark blue line, and the central portion is bright fire-engine red. The tip is wickedly pointed and barbed, in classic devil fashion. The stump from which the tail sprouts is drawn with shadowing to give the appearance of an appendage originating from my vertebral column and emerging from my body just above my buttocks. With counter shading, the tattoo exhibits a three-dimensional effect and looks salient. The total length of the shaft is some 24 cm, and it tapers in width from five cm at the base to about three just below the expanded, triangular point. Like all tattoos, it is "under my skin" and permanent, an enduring reminder of my irrevocable decision. The motif is of my own chosing, even if the symbolism is universal. Giving the Devil His "due" is usually not carried to the extreme of carving His mark into one's ass. Whereas God generously granted tails to the other animals, it took the Devil to endow me with mine. To state that I have at times regretted my generous gesture toward the Evil One is merely to repeat what everyone says about their tattoos. You never acquire a great work of art when you allow a tattoo "artist" to defile your carcass. You wager your naked hide and pay for whatever everlasting, haphazard consequences you suffer to walk away with. I myself have applied tattoos to several other folks, and I acknowledge that the results are always disappointing. Tattooing entails pain and deception (and vain attempts at touch-up and cover-up). Obviously, tattooed humanity learns to abide lasting discontentment. Lasting but not permanent: after all, the grave is the ultimate tattoo remover. So why, then, did I do it? What made me put this everlasting symbol of the hated Evil One into my epidermis? It is easier to begin by explaining when, where and how I did it. I was south of the border, in Panama, in the summer of 1969, studying and working, but mostly loafing. I was pretty much alone. So alone, for instance, that I was sleeping until noon most days in the cheap hotel where I was staying. Nobody paid any attention to me, and my free time was spent reading science fiction and exploring the seamier side of life in Panama City. My "studies" took me to brothels on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts where I listed the countries of origin of the girls who took me to bed for money. Before tiring of this petty game of my own invention, I had grappled my way through half of the nations of the Caribbean and South America. The summer was on its way to being wasted, but I was in such a lethargic mood that nothing could shake me. But one thing did rattle me: the way my fellow North Americans treated the Panamanians. I got to watching the privileged classes at the PX and at their country clubs. My rejection of my fellow countrymen was complete. I was really alone in this poor country that at the same time attracted me and repelled me. My room being just a stone's throw away from the honky-tonk row of off-limits bars and clubs on the other side of Avenida Quatro de Julio (the border of the Canal Zone), I got to watching our valiant soldiers stationed in the Canal Zone. They, unthinking children that they are, at least seemed to be having fun when they went out on the town. The big thing among them was to be ignorant of Spanish and behave in the manner of a spoiled adolescence around the Panamanians. The PX and on-limits bars were their playgrounds. I got to hating these GIs. Even more, if this were possible, I became disgusted with all the bigoted, stupid "Zoneans" - the very folks who could have given me some sort of a social life if I had stooped to accept any of their invitations. How the Panamanians put up with our forces of occupation is a measure of their poverty and subjection. When you are alone, thoughts have an explosive impact on you, and you can become prisoner to a fixed idea. My idea was to do something that would leave me everlastingly different from the Canal Zone soldiers and the Zoneans, to cleave me apart from that self-satisfied society of fools with holier-than-thou attitudes. My reviling in the low-life of an exploited, colonized country gave me the means. A tattoo parlor that catered to GIs was located not too far from the Canal Zone border. I remember passing it several times and being interested in what was going on (that would never come off) inside the small studio. One lonely evening between bars and bar girls, I grasped the concept of a unique tattoo - one that no one else would flaunt, both for its originality and its audacity. I made a hasty sketch on a paper napkin and went directly to the tattoo shop where I had to wait for a short spell until a GI finished having his body debauched with a standard, rather poorly executed design. It made me wince. I was, however, determined to proceed with my scheme. I interpreted my depiction of what I wanted to the so-called artist and indicated exactly where the tattoo should be executed on my right buttock below the waist. The pain was more than I had anticipated, probably due to the sensitive site I had chosen. A soldier who entered the shop while my pants were at half mast questioned me on how the electric needles felt on my derriere. My rejoinder, something about impersonating the pin cushion in pin-the-tail-on-donkey, must have discouraged him, for I remember that he departed without a dye job. The only component of my tattoo that was inflicted that first time was the outline, a simple blue line without any shading or red color. When he finished, the tattoo artist asked me, in Spanish, if I now belonged to the "El Diablo" since I bore His symbol ("rabo") on my ass ("popo"). I sure felt like the devil with my still quite painful, smarting needlework. I told him no, the design was just the hallmark of some club I was joining. In fact, my brand has escorted me while I have done some mischievous things. Maybe it has conveyed me to exotic places off the straight-and-narrow path that I never would have discovered by myself and taught me to perform bizarre exploits I could never have accomplished alone. Those are other stories for another time, however. I have had two touch-ups of my embellishment. The first was in southern Illinois, at a tattoo parlor near to an army base, but it was not effective in bringing vibrancy to the portrayal. The second repair job, done in Columbus, Ohio, in the summer of 1974, by a much acclaimed tattoo artist whose name was Marty, was exceptional in depicting the fleshy tail sprouting from roots in my lower back. The impression is of a three-dimensional caudal appendage capable of swinging from side to side. Satyrs and centaurs have no greater claim to being tailed than I have, nor do dogs or horses or bulls. My extended tailbone genuinely is a part of me, and it has allowed me to think of myself as more daring and adventurous than those less well endowed than I. Tailed-one

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 26 Aug. 1999
in Tattoos

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Studio: Panama+City%2C+Panama
Location: Central+America

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