In November I started thinking along dangerous lines. My birthday was approaching in early January, which always makes the reflection on the past year and the impending clean slate of the new year even more overwhelming.

So, I tried to think of things to do that would cheer me, or inspire me, or terrify me. Something to distract me from the impending click of my life’s odometer. But what?

Sky dive?
Absolutely not.

Take a class?

Face lift?
Not just yet.

What did I decide to do? Something I NEVER thought I’d do in a million years.

I went online and started researching… I got recommendations, I looked at portfolios, I collected inspirational images, I interviewed, I made an appointment.

I got a tattoo.

Yes, for some unknown reason I decided I couldn’t live another year without a tattoo, even though I spent my whole life happily without one. Not to mention all those times I told my stepson, who always came home sporting some new drawing on his arms or hands that he absolutely, as long as I had breath in my body, was not going to make such a permanent statement.

My husband offered helpful advice like, “No words, no Harry Potter, and no unicorns.”

As I researched images, I ran across a lot of bad choices. It was getting down to the wire and I still couldn’t decide what to get. It seemed silly to have something tattooed when I obviously had no burning desire for any particular image, yet I stubbornly continued researching. Finally, it paid off. An image I wanted. Plus, I was able to attribute it to several reasonable and concise explanations. 1. My first trip out of the US was to Wales. 2. I am of Welsh descent. 3. I dug it.

The image selected was a variation on the Welsh dragon. I knew it was a good choice when the tattoo shop owner/artist, Rob, actually appeared interested.

Rob told me I could have an appointment about 3 weeks later and he would draw his interpretation of the dragon the night before my appointment. In other words, I would show up for my appointment not knowing exactly what my new forever friend would look like. What the hell. If one behaves insanely, one gets what one deserves.

Speaking of insane, my marketing crew wanted to go with me as a team outing. I decided that me plus five young ladies using my insanity as a team building exercise was probably not in the best interest of my professional future. Therefore, I trekked one afternoon, alone, to the “tattoo parlor.” Meanwhile, text messages from a friend instructed me to drink immediately. I refused on the grounds that alcohol makes you bleed more. (And choose bigger tattoos.) No one wants that. However, my friend, Ms. Bad Influence, was text-tsking up to the moment I lay down on the table, “You’re the first sober tattoo recipient ever.”

So be it. I may be insane and sometimes willfully rebellious, but I follow the rules when it comes to blood.

After an exhibition of what the process was going to feel like, and a warning to let him know if I felt like I was going to be sick or pass out, we began. At first, I was smug. “Piece of cake,” I thought to myself as I stared at the ceiling and made small talk. Eventually though, after over an hour of having the same areas pierced over and over again with needles, the smugness faded. The nerves in my skin sent messages to my brain that said, “Someone is tearing your skin open.” I knew this was not true, but the signals were pretty convincing. I told my tattooed cronies in the shop that if they wanted pain, the should try getting their faces fraxel lasered.

Afterward, I made my way over to the full length mirror to take a look at the finished product. Red, irritated skin surrounded my new friend, the dragon. With a thumbs up and a much discounted payment, (I think he was glad I had not vomited, whined, or passed out), I wandered to my car and buckled up, quickly realizing the first of the challenges associated with the chosen physical location. Seat belts = bad. Waist bands = bad. By the time I got home, anything touching my skin = bad.

And if you think the process of getting a tattoo is painful, the healing process was worse. It lasts WAY more than an hour and involves words like “oozing,” “scabbing” and “sloughing.” At the back of my mind was the artist’s comment as I left the shop, “You can come back for a touch-up after it heals.” I cringe now when I see there are indeed a couple of spots that could be outlined a bit more. Guess who’s going back for a  second round? Hey, at least I’m committed to perfection.

(Meanwhile, I’m a little concerned about what next year’s birthday will involve.)


9 thoughts on “THE DRAGON TATTOO

  1. Oh dear, Ann, I feel almost as if I’ve experienced it for myself! You are nothing if not brave. I hope the dragon is settling down now. Have you given him a name? Welsh ancestors – that’s interesting. Do you know which region of Wales you family came from?

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