Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tattoos for Bureaucrats


Tattoo the Second. Unlike the elephant, this took more planning than walking by a tattoo shop and asking if they would, say, tattoo me.

About three months ago, I proclaimed over a lunchtime beer to a very tattooed friend and colleague that I too was a parent and a diplomat and I too wanted to have a secret that was awesome. Perfect, he said, I am finally getting my Estonian tattoo. You should come with me.

Wheee! I thought. This would solve so many problems. 1) He knew what he was talking about. 2) He had scouted the perfect local artist already. 3) I'd see how it works. 4) I'd score an intro to said perfect local artist.

I suffer from a chronic case of the Uncools. I want to be cool, I respect cool, but I walk in and just giggle my way through an obviously novice attempt at securing the cool. And by cool I mean the confidence in which one makes choices that make her happy without seeking the approval of others. When I first bought premium denim (pre-baby, naturally), I steeled myself for the experience by endlessly insulting my non-coolness on the way to the store. Don't screw this up. Don't let them know you are uncool. Don't act like you're cool because they'll know you aren't. Get in, get out. Do no harm! And I totally botched it. I acted like I was just awesomely prepared for this experience and look how great I look in denim that is premium! Doesn't premium denim just make it all better. Some people don't want to spend the money on premium denim, but I do! Let me in to your premium club. I am worthy!

This panic attack was largely brought on by the fact that I was not only aware of my general lack of coolness, but a recent newspaper article revealed that the owner of the place was known to turn people away who just weren't ready. He didn't turn me away, and after that trip I actually learned to shop there as a normal human being who was just, you know, shopping. But that first trip was terrifying.

This time I got to sit on a couch while my friend got tattoo number a million. Over dinner that night, he explained why the tattoo artist was so good and why he had picked him. I walked away with the shop's card.

Husband was totally behind me on this. Yea him!

I had been pinning tattoos I liked on Pinterest, but I needed to send the artist a number of photos and an explanation in my simplest English of what exactly I wanted. In no way was I going to try this in Estonian.

After a lot of consultation with the Home Team (Husband and Nanny), I sent about five photos of tattoos and other things, and explained which parts I like from each. I nervously awaited a sketch, and when it showed up, I thought for sure I would have to send back an email asking him to adjust some things as I wasn't even quite sure how I envisioned the final product. He was expecting that email as part of the whole process: I explain what I want, he sketches, I ask for changes, he tweaks, we agree, he sets an appointment and a ballpark quote. But when I opened his email, all I could think was:


As in no changes. Just add color.

Today, two months after our initial meeting, Husband accompanied me for my big day. I had my little elephant--one color, twenty minutes--but this was bigger. This was entirely custom and was going to take up to 3 hours.

The first 90 minutes didn't hurt, really. Not more than a slight scraping feeling. Once he started doing the color, my skin got a little angry, and the flower on my shoulder was quite uncomfortable, but at no point did I grit my teeth or hold my breath. I wish I had been so zen through childbirth. Two and a half hours later I could not wipe the stupid grin off my face. All the preparation in the world couldn't help me handle that moment coolly. I was just too thrilled with the final product.

So were the children, of course. Boy poked my arm (still bandaged, thank goodness) and declared it hot. It was hot. That was some seriously annoyed skin. Girl squealed "Bod!" (bird) and poked one of the birds. Poking, turns out, is not comfortable.

And as for the tattoo shop. Yes, the artist is very cool. He is quite confident in his choices and his appearance (which is rad: mohawk, piercings, tattoos, etc.). Turns out, he too is a parent of a small child for whom vacation is more work than just staying home and going to work.

I have at least two more planned, both of which could be hidden away when the time calls for it (read: work). It is truly an addictive experience: the sounds, the vibrating needles, the slight pain, the finished product. For those who ask the question that had always stopped me from getting a tattoo before, the answer is simple: when I'm old, I don't anticipate being a supermodel anyway. Might as well conceal those wrinkles and liver spots with some beautiful ink.

Happy Tattooing to all those who are taking a similar leap soon. I highly recommend doing so.

No comments: