Where to start? I guess it’s worth knowing that I’ve been going to tattoo parlors for years watching my friends get “inked” (or whatever lame tattoo lingo you feel like using), and almost every time, I’ve considered getting something. I’ve had plenty of ideas, too, from the Modest Mouse and AbsolutePunk logos to a circus-style strongman design for my brother and I. I would sit on these ideas for months, and still, while I loved them, I just couldn’t bring myself to take the leap.
Now, I’m going to say something that might seem a little suspect, but try and stay with me: peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing. Sure, in the context we’re used to it is – D.A.R.E. was right, say no to drugs, etc. – but sometimes, it takes a good friend to push you out of your comfort zone when they know what’s best for you. This is how I ended up getting my first tattoo this past Tuesday.
Despite the term being a bit heavy-handed, no one actually “pressured” me into getting one. It was my fourth anniversary with my fiancee, and while the original plan was to simply grab a bite and catch a showing of “Finding Dory,” the suggestion to get tattoos (which, to my surprise, was entirely her idea) stuck around until the big day. We were both nervous, but neither of us were blinking.
Okay, so maybe I was scared and blinking a lot.
The point is, all of my friends got tattoos before I did, and that’s okay. But I may never have taken the leap if Jess hadn’t been ready to make it first. And so, with some relatively gentle encouragement from our friends, the time came and I decided to go for it. It’s worth mentioning that I was never as worried about the pain as I was the permanence of a tattoo. But at this point, what did I have to lose?
Strangely enough, seeing the tattoo artist bring out a design that I loved relieved approximately 75 percent of my anxiety about the thing. From that point forward, I was mostly excited – or at least until he started preparing the tattoo gun, but at that point I was strapped in and the ride was about to begin.
To be honest (I know plenty of people say this), it wasn’t that bad. One of my friends described the sensation as “about as much fun as one would have watching the film “‘Shark Tale,’” and I’d say that’s just about right. I must be sensitive to words, because where others have compared it to a pinch or a bee sting, it merely felt like a bad scratch to me – challenging at first, but nonthreatening and even forgettable a week later. Then again, my tattoo is located in a spot that is relatively less painful compared to some of the bonier or fattier parts of the body. My fiancee was not as lucky, as she apparently (we were being tattooed at the same time) winced through the entirety of her rib session.
After only 10 or so minutes, my tattoo was finished, and they were bandaging us up and providing us with care information on the way out. Honestly, the worst thing about getting a tattoo (in my humble opinion) is the demand of others asking you to explain it. Generally speaking, you can tell who is genuinely interested and who is being judgmental, but that’s the secret: you don’t owe anyone anything. And yeah, I know someone reading this will inevitably look at this particular tattoo and opine to themselves or others how dumb it seems, but whatever connection you think it has to this Mac DeMarco song, I can promise you, it runs just a bit deeper than that. I felt amazing afterwards, partially because I was so happy with the tattoo but mostly due to the fact that I had taken a leap – and I had done so with someone I care about deeply. In short, it was an experience, and what is college for if not new experiences?