It really started out so innocently. A friend of mine, who looks like he has many tattoos was talking about how he desperately wanted to get his first. He and his wife are good friends of ours and we often get together to play cards and guitar hero and such. Our kids are in the same class so it's always a good time. (Believe it or not, I actually DJ'd their wedding way back in '00.)
Anyway, his first attempt in Vegas failed when his friends bailed out, and that's when one night I opened my big mouth. "I'd never bail on you. We should all go get tattoos!" He's the kinda guy who remembers things like that. Me, I'm the kinda guy who spouts mindless babble to look cool and hopes nobody remembers five minutes later.
Fast forward a few months and a Friday night appointment at "Splash of Color" and it's the moment of truth. First of all, I must say "Splash" is immaculate. I thought I was at a doctor's office it was so clean. Except doctors and nurses don't have super-spiked hair and piercings in places I can't mention here. My buddy, Ryan, was up first. His takes the longest since it's an elaborate design with his kids' initials throughout it across the top of his back. Ouch. I was next to start. I never succumbed to the urge of a tattoo when I was younger because I never knew what I would want and shuddered to think what it would look like when I was much older. (Editor's note: And I'm glad b/c most people I know are now not happy with what they got.) But this time I had a couple finalists and went with the Chinese zodiac symbol for the year of the Tiger-- the year both me and my mom were born. I put it smack on my upper left shoulder, which you can see in the picture. The guy doing the tattoo was named Geary, which I think is a great name for a tattoo artist. If it was Bob, I may have backed out. You first submit the design days in advance to make sure it's doable and when it's game time he starts by tracing on the stenciled design in blue ink. He then asks you to take a look at it in the mirror to make sure it's cool. That conversation went like this:
Geary: Go ahead take a look at that.
Me: (looking in the mirror with Julie and Ryan's wife Bethany watching) Hmmmm...
Geary: Is that all right?
Beth: What's wrong, Jay?
Me: Oh, nothing. I just thought it would look tougher.
Then the moment of truth. I wouldn't say it hurt... it was more like the pain you get when someone scratches your back too hard. Geary is also well known for being a speedy tattoo artist, so I was done in 20 minutes. When it was done, I thought it looked great.
Next came my wife. Julie would not describe her discomfort the way I did. This was pain. 45-minutes worth. It's a symbol in the middle of her back that can best be described as the distant cousin to Prince's symbol. It shades from purple to light blue and goes right across the spine. Pain. Hers actually bled when she was done. But it looks great.
Bethany went with colorful sun encompassing a Chinese symbol meaning "family" on her lower back. Although, words like 'encompassing', 'colorful' and 'family' don't change the fact it's a tramp stamp. I'm kidding, it also looked great. They all did.
From there it was a night on the town with our new toughness. The tough part was explaining it to our kids who knew all about it. My oldest thinks they are awesome and just loves the whole thing, which now scares the crap out of me she'll get one when she's 16 or something. I just told her about all those people who hate the ones they got when they were teenagers and why it's definitely best to wait until you're 30-something. I'm sure glad I did.