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"Finally, a tattoo with some thought!" - The story of my fourth tattoo.

I don't know if you've ever had an idea for a tattoo wake you up out of your sleep, but that's exactly what happened to me. It was about five months after I'd gotten my third tattoo when the bug started to bite again: that gnawing feeling in the back of my mind that I was going to come up with a design that I was absolutely going to have to have needled into my skin. That feeling stayed with me for a good long time until, finally, at 3:30 in the morning, it woke me up out of my sleep. It was one of those ideas that I knew would punish me by disappearing from my consciousness if I didn't haul my ass out of bed and draw it up (color included). So, I did what I was told: I dragged myself out of bed and, bleary-eyed, and drew up a sketch of four branches linked together, each branch representing a different season.

I was pretty satisfied that I'd finally been able to figure out what the heck was bugging my subconscious this whole time, but I felt like something was still missing. A couple of nights later, thankfully while I was still awake, I realized what it was and rushed to find a pen and the sketch. I added the four phases of the moon to each corresponding season: Dark Moon for Winter, Waxing Moon for Spring, Full Moon for Summer, and Waning Moon for Autumn.

Finally, my sketch was complete. Thankfully, when I told my friend Christine what had happened with the sketch waking me up, she told me that she'd been thinking about getting a second one and that I'd inspired her to get it. That was the good news; the bad news was that we were going to have to wait until Thanksgiving break, which was about three months away. Tom Petty was right: the waiting really is the hardest part. I spent those three months looking at the design and staring at the tattoo parlor longingly every time I passed it on the bus to college.

The days before getting a tattoo are the worst for me; not really in a bad way, per se, but the combination of excitement and jitters and anxiety about every little detail that could go wrong isn't exactly a great combination for my nerves. I would have thought that my jitters would go away after having gone through the process with the same fantastic results three times before, and I suppose that they've subsided somewhat, but I still get a wave of nervousness when I first step into that chair. This time was no different.

I was hoping for an experience like I'd had with my first and third tattoos, where I didn't have to wait too long to get into the chair. However, it was more like my experience with my second tattoo, where I had to wait about five or six hours before even setting foot near the machine. That wasn't their fault, of course; the first time, somebody was having a large back piece done and there was only one artist there, and this time, somebody was getting a large piece of line work done, and while there were two artists there, the people going in front of Christine and me were getting relatively complex tattoos. The first people there, two young girls about my age, maybe older, basically picked some flash off of the wall and had it slapped onto them. One of the girls was actually trying to get the artist to pick something for her. The guy right before us was getting a memorial tattoo for his grandmother, and I wound up talking to him a bit about that and his first tattoo.

I was relieved that the artists weren't doing a half-assed job and shoving people out the door once they were finished, but at the same time, I was getting more and more antsy. I suppose you'd think that after three months of waiting, what's another five hours? I'd say the fact that I waited those three months while wanting it so badly made the extra five-hour wait worse. I passed the time by talking to Christine and some of the other people waiting along with us; that's another one of the things I love about tattoo parlors. You can talk to just about anyone and they won't even question you: they'll just talk right back as if they've known you forever.

Right before Christine and I went in, Chris walked out of the back room and asked us if we wanted anything from the deli: he actually bought the both of us water, even though we offered to pay for ourselves. When 5 o'clock rolled around, Christine was finally called into the room. Her tattoo was pretty simple, so she was only in there for about 20 minutes or so. When my turn finally came, my stomach did a little flip, but I was more than ready. When I sat down, Ted set up the ink and the machine, shaved and cleaned my arm, and then set the needle a-buzzin'. I still get a bit of a jolt of energy when the needle first hits skin, and again, this time was no different. There were some sweet spots that made me cringe, but the overall experience wasn't painful in the least: I suppose I have a bit of a tolerance for tattoo-type pain now. Even if I didn't, the pain is more than worth the result. I watched intently as my tattoo took shape, and I conversed with Ted, Chris (the other ar tist) and Joe (the floor guy) as it happened. When I was finished, Chris and Joe walked over and looked at it, Chris commented on how it was a really cool design, and then he said, "Finally, a tattoo with some thought!" Christine and I paid for our tattoos, tipped Chris and Ted, and then walked out of that tattoo parlor with that familiar rush of adrenaline and a strong case of hunger.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 21 Dec. 2008
in Tattoos

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Artist: Ted+Wallen
Studio: Ron+and+Dave%27s+Tattooing
Location: Staten+Island%2C+New+York

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