At least I didn’t sh*t my pants
Heading back to the tattoo shop tonight, seems like a good time to share some old shame. I first posted this about a year ago. I still cringe to think of it. Here goes.
I got a new tattoo last night. (Queue applause.) Normally the evolution of a new tattoo, for me, goes something like this: Get an idea. Run idea past everyone I know, multiple times, for months/years. Take everyone’s advice. Change idea. Change idea again. And again. Finally settle and commit. Go to whichever tattoo artist/shop my husband decrees is most suitable for this particular design. Go into shop with firm ideas about placement, size, etc. Bring reinforcements. Immediately agree to whatever tattoo artist recommends, re: placement, size, etc. “Yeah, yeah, cool, sure, let’s do that instead.”
This time, I put on my big girl pants and did it all by myself. Mostly. My friend Rebecca pointed me in the right direction and my husband Sash found the artist on Instagram. But I contacted her myself, sent her my idea and references, made my appointment, and went there all on my lonesome. (Like a real live grown up. Ish.)
By the time I arrived (5:30 pm) I was in a state of near crippling anxiety, worried that I wouldn’t like the design and she would bully me into getting it anyway because I am a total wimp and strong people sniff out my weakness like a fart in a car. I popped into the bar next door for a quick drink to calm my nerves (didn’t work) and headed in.
Tattoo shops are intimidating. There’s an air of club-like superiority that I suppose is necessary due to the permanent nature of the product they’re peddling. Don’t walk in here unless you’re sure, kind of thing. And also sign in 72 places to confirm this. And don’t even think about suing us if this thing festers and your arm falls off or we’ll tattoo “dickcheese” across your forehead. In fuchsia.
My fear went away as soon as I met the tattooist. She was super sweet, friendly from the get-go and committed to making sure I was 100% happy with the design, which — amazingly — I loved, and didn’t want to change at all. Shwew. I went from being terrified to excited in one fell swoop.
And then I fainted.
Yep, you read that right. I fucking fainted, like a swooning, hanky-wielding, face-fanning puritan in a Victorian romance novel, right in the middle of a Hollywood tattoo shop. Quick, fetch the smelling salts!
Here’s what happened.
She made the stencil and took me back to her station, explaining that this would be the hardest part — getting the placement right. Because the stencil is a flat design and the cap of my shoulder is not so flat. She told me to stand with my arms totally relaxed at my sides. And not to move. I stood there for about five to ten minutes (I really have no idea), concentrating fiercely on keeping my arm relaxed and yet not moving, while she cut and pasted thin pieces of stencil into place. I began to feel a little light headed, and realized that perhaps in my herculean effort to remain relaxed but still, I had forgotten to breathe. So then I started trying to take really deep breaths, but that’s really hard to do without moving. And it was maybe too late by that point anyway. Doctors recommend breathing more than once every ten minutes, or so I’ve heard.
About this time, the pain killer I’d taken with my pre-tattoo cocktail (did I mention the painkiller?) started to kick in. A kind friend of mine (who shall remain un-named in case they’re watching us) donated it to me, and I’d taken half. And then the other half, about two minutes later, thinking, “Fuckit!” (As you do.) I also began to sweat. A lot.
About that time, the tattoo artist looked at me and said, “Tell me if you want to sit down for a minute.” And I said (stupidly), “Thanks, I’m ok!” (I was clearly not ok.) And then she said, “You know you look a little pale, why don’t you sit?” What happened after that is a bit fuzzy. I sat down. Someone put a wet paper towel on the back of my neck. Someone else gave me an energy drink. My vision started to go, and then I woke up on a tattoo table with a pillow under my feet and a Sprite in my hand. The sweet tattoo artist was leaning over me asking, “Are you feeling better now?” Her voice yanked me from vivid and faraway dream, to respond, “Yeah, wow, I think I actually just fell asleep for a minute.”
To which she said something polite.
To which she did not say, “Bitch, you just passed the fuck out.”
As I said, she was really nice.
Anyway, I made a full recovery, and sat for two and a half hours without further incident. (Yes, it hurt. Like a motherfucker. Why do people always ask this? Did a tattoo ever not hurt? It’s a fucking tattoo.) I was of course mortified and apologized many times. She assured me it happens all the time (I doubt that’s true) and said, by way of making me feel better, that a colleague of hers had even had a client pass out and shit her pants once.
So there you go. Yay for me — at least I didn’t shit my pants!
That’s what it’s come down to, apparently.
This post first appeared on flappingbrickwings.tumblr.com.