The Accidental Tattoo

December 1, 2013 — 62 Comments

Do you have a tattoo? If so, what’s the story behind your ink?

Bloggers and tattoos. What a prompt. You might as well have walked into a roomful of Hell’s Angels and called out, “Anybody got any ink?”

I have several tattoos. The one I am proudest of is my first. It’s tiny butterfly on my left hip. It’s one of those “you can’t really see it unless I’m naked” kind of deals.

I love those tats the most. I’m old school.

My butterfly is special because when I got it, no one had them. Well, maybe bikers, and men in the navy. I was the first chick I knew to rock a tattoo. I’m not going to tell you what year it was, cause I’m sensitive about my age. But let’s just say it was well over 20 years ago.

I was in San Francisco, spending the summer with my college boyfriend. We were expanding our consciousness on some very strong psychedelic chemicals at the time.

Everything we encountered was magnificent in its beauty.  Every detail magnified. Every sound amplified. Every color intensified. Such is the magic of the psychoactive consciousness.

We wandered around the area known as “South of Market,” between Mission street and Market street. A bright red brick building caught our attention.

Ooohhh. So RED. So very red.

We walked inside. We had no idea what it was. But beautifully colored cartoons adorned the walls, and we examined them, climbing up, up, up a flight of stairs. Each brightly colored picture carried us higher up the stairs.

“Ooh, look at that one!”    ” Oohh, that’s so cool!”

When we reached the top of the stairs, we were in a tattoo parlor. The man who ran the place was inked up. EVERYWHERE.  He had wild long hair.

He had a bulldog. Even the dog had a tattoo on its leg.

I wasn’t sure if I imagined that.

“I want one!” I said.  “Cool!” my boyfriend said.

The tattoo artist examined our eyes. “You guys sure? This is permanent.”

“I’m sure.”

But there were so many pretty pictures to choose from.

I want…

I want…

I want…

I looked and looked and saw a little butterfly on the wall.

That one. Where only he can see it.”  Meaning, my boyfriend. Our little secret.

The tattoo artist said, “I know just the place.”

He laid me on my right side.  As he drilled on my left hip, I giggled. It didn’t hurt  (the way the future ones would).  It tickled. It felt sexy. It was just an innocuous little butterfly, after all. I had a giggle fit through the whole tattoo. It was delicious.

Tattoos are addicting, by the way. For me, there’s something about the way it feels to get one…

He put it in just the right place. It peeks out just slightly above my bikini bottom. You can’t see the whole tattoo unless I decide you get to see the whole tattoo.

Afterwards, I stood up. I couldn’t stop looking at it. The tattoo artist said, “Pull your pants up. This is a rough neighborhood.”  He was quite the comedian.

I loved the new addition to my body. When I came back to school in the fall, my friends were awestruck over my little butterfly.

I dropped trou constantly, showing off my ink.

Is it arrogant/weird/pathetic to say that I’m proud that I was the first chick I know to rock a tattoo?

I have to admit it, but I’m a snob when it comes to trends. I can’t stand the idea that every third wealthy pampered housewife where I live has a tattoo. How DARE they! When I lived in New York, in the East Village, a tattoo meant you had an punk attitude, not a Bloomingdale’s account.

The best part of the story: the man who gave me the tattoo? He was none other than Lyle Tuttle. I had no idea at the time, but the man is a Living Legend in the world of ink. And yes, that bulldog DID have a tattoo on its leg.

look closely at the dog's inner left thigh

Lyle and dog – look closely at dog’s left inner thigh

I have other tattoos, but my first is my favorite. It looks really dated compared to the others. The outline is much too thick, in the style of a 25-year-old tattoo. The design is passé.  And not in a cool vintage way. The colors are faded. But I suppose it’s like your eldest child. Your firstborn.

You love all of them, but there’s something about your first.

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62 responses to The Accidental Tattoo

  1. 

    Wow, love your writing style. Narrative to the point that I could envision everything as I read it. Love the personal/secretive notion of your butterfly, too!

    • 

      Thank you so much for that lovely comment! You have no idea how much it means to me that you took the time to read, and to give me feedback.

      Yes, I love my secret little butterfly!

      • 

        Of course! I feel like people can share their opinions more candidly and more openly in a venue such as this one, and so I like reading things and seeing how others’ minds work and how others express themselves and share of themselves! When I clicked on the prompt, I read through the titles posts that had responded, and decided yours sounded interesting and that yours was the one I’d read, and I’m glad I did!

      • 

        Well, I’m stopping by to visit you – and I’m so glad the title piqued your interest!

      • 

        I’m still working on privacy settings, so if it doesn’t let you in, send me a request and I’ll approve!

      • 

        Wait – there are privacy settings?

        I don’t know shit about WordPress – I couldn’t figure out how some blogger got my email address until he told me it was in the comments! And then I still didn’t know where it was –

        I thought I was computer semi-literate. But dealing with this blog makes me feel like a moron.

        Privacy settings. Hmmmm. I’m about to go all “saucy wench” and post about oral sex. Maybe I should make sure my grandma’s not reading?

      • 

        Not sure if this comment will post out of order. If it does, I apologize. Go to http:/samaraspeaks.wordpress.com/wp-admin/options-reading.php?updated=user-added and check “Site Visibility”. I thought I was pretty computer-literate too, but unless I’m reading it wrong, it makes it seem as if the only way to keep my posts out of, say, Google search results, I have to make it private so that people have to request access. I’d love to simply have a lock on it saying that any WordPress user or something can see what I post, but haven’t figured out how to do that. On the right toolbar of a new blog post, there are settings as well, but the link I posted above seems to trump that? I’m fairly new to WordPress, so maybe someone better-versed could help us figure this out?

  2. 

    I have six tattoos but the first is definitely NOT my favorite. Also I agree – there’s something about the feeling/pain of getting a tattoo that is addicting. I hope to get another one with a little chunk of my tax return this year.

  3. 

    What a great story about your first tattoo! I don’t have any ink. Now i’m the minority haha.

  4. 

    Congrats on zeroing in on one of my most humiliating episodes. I got a tattoo about the size of a JFK half dollar on my shoulder. I found the pain so excruciating that I almost passed out. Literally. The tattoo artist, a gigantic, burly, biker, stopped and had me put my head between my legs. He then put his giant, meaty forearm on my neck and told me to push up. My head cleared instantly and he continued. What a disaster. In my defense, I got my tattoo a very long time ago before EVERYBODY was getting them. So there’s that to celebrate. It wasn’t addicting for me, sister.

    No photos? What the fuck?

    • 

      You obviously have a low tolerance for pain, and a high sense of drama!

      We’re trend setters as far as tats are concerned! Yay for us!

      No, no photos. I’m trying to be a woman of mystery here, Mark! I’m going for a very secretive kind of “that’s me but you can’t really see me” photo in the header. Also, taking a selfie of my hip just seemed ridiculous.

      Wait, the tattoo was of JFK?

      • 

        No, silly. My tat is about the size of a JFK half dollar. The tattoo is a Japanese symbol. Real original, I know. Not long after I got it, I was out with a group of friends and one of their friends was a beautiful Japanese girl. I proudly showed her my tattoo and she gasped and said, “That’s a man’s name!” My jaw dropped and she burst our laughing. Just kidding.

      • 

        You’re silly!
        I knew it was the size of a JFK half dollar, not of JFK.

        You see what I did there?

    • 

      D’oh. Now you know who you’re dealing with.

  5. 

    I was 50 yrs old when I got my first tattoo. Yes, 50. You’d think by then, I’d have outgrown the notion. But it was a birthday present to myself. I figured I’d made it this far in life, I deserved to do whatever I wanted to. LOL! My tattoo is on the inside, just below my left ankle. It peeks out over the top of my pumps when I’m all dressed up.

    • 

      My best friend, sister-of-the-heart, started getting hers late in life as well. Now she has four! And she freaked many years ago when her daughter got one!

      I have one on the inside of my right foot along the instep and ankle. It peeks out over the top of my pumps as well – I love that! However, I will say that it hurt like hell – no meat there, just bone!

      Thanks for visiting my blog, and commenting. I really appreciate that you did.

      • 

        You’re welcome.

        My tattoo didn’t hurt at all. The very young, twenty-something, totally inked tattoo artist, when he found out it was my first tattoo, treated me like a maiden about to lose her virginity. He said, “Since it’s your first time, I’m just going to draw one line first so you’ll know what it feels like.” He did and I said, “That’s it? That bit of vibration?” He frowned and said, “Oh. That’s not good.” I panicked. I thought there was something wrong with me! “Why?! What’s wrong?!” Then he laughed at me and said, “Well, when people don’t feel it, they usually end up coming back for several more.” Relief! There was nothing wrong with me. LOL! But I don’t see me going back for anymore. I’m happy with my little tattoo and that’s all I need.

      • 

        You sure???
        Well, if you ever change your mind…

  6. 

    My first tattoo (and second) were also of the thick outline era. But I got them recolored last year and I love them even more. I love reading your posts because I know they are so raw and real. You are like the rebel version of me and I love seeing the world through your eyes and words. I’m thinking of getting a fourth tattoo. Wish you could join me!

    • 

      I love your posts! So we’re a match! Your poetry is beautiful – and to think, you were only in high school when you wrote that.

      Is that guy available? Nab him at once!

      We would make great tat buddies, right? Do shots of tequila and get our ink on! (Does that make me sound badass?)

  7. 

    Sounds like one amazing night, badass : )

  8. 

    No tattoos here– just scars. The obvious ones are two surgery scars in the small of my back, and the memory of a gash in between the palm and wrist of my right hand.

    I have some personal beliefs that mean I’m not going to have a tattoo, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating well-crafted ink, or having a chuckle or two about various tattoo stories (it’s much the same for piercings). Cimmy and I have a friend that got one in the pubic area and she said the inking process got her wet. Hehe.

    I agree with you about the mainstreaming of tattoos. It seems… odd. My grandfather was one of those servicemen Lyle Tuttle describes on his webpage; he’s a Marine of the old Pacific front conflict of WWII. He’s got a Devil Dog tat on his left shoulder, if I remember right. It is odd to see tats on folks that don’t have the warrior or punk ethos these days.

    • 

      Right? It’s just weird to see very mainstream folk with tattoos. Kind of takes all the rebel fun out of it.

      That’s why I don’t get them anymore. I might as well just go shopping.

  9. 

    I am such a wimp when it comes to tattoo. I am a karma yogi but in this society I am a well paid karma yogi..

    • 

      What is a karma yogi?

      I believe in yogis.

      I believe in karma.

      Please don’t make me have to read your ENTIRE blog today! It’s Monday, and I must work!

      • 

        First concept you must understand is the reason everyone of us are here on this plane of existence is to gain enlightenment. One of the paths is being a karma yogi. There are many yogic paths Bhakti, Et al.. I follow the karma yogic way.. Sound weird I know. You are an awake soul.. Otherwise you’d have no interest in yoga.

      • 

        I know we are all here to gain enlightenment.

        Yoga helps. It’s a body-mind connection thing for me. After yoga, I love the people I love even more.

        I know a zillion different forms of yoga.

        I’ve just never heard of a karmic yogi.

        Can I google it??? Did you make it up? You are intriguing as hell. Stop. I have to work!

      • 

        Yoga is very important! No I wish I had made up being a karma yogi. The Upanishads beat me to it long ago. Everyone has his/her own path. It kind of has the same aspects as Buddhism’s right mind, right word right action. Karma yogi’s try to do all action without getting the ego involved.. You should listen to Eckardt Tolle’s New Earth on CD.. He mentions the selfless action aspect.

      • 

        The Upan-what now?

        I would listen to the Tolle, if it weren’t selection # 61 on Oprah’s fucking book club! Actually, I heard it was quite good. Similar to TPON, which I loved. Easy to love – hard to live.

        No ego, huh? Can this be combined with alcohol?

      • 

        Ahhh the Upanishads are like the the Gita… I’m totally un book knowledged. I live it. Alcohol.. Everything in moderation but everything is relative.. Tolle speaks deep thoughts in English.

      • 

        Some doctors recommend using it with alcohol. In fact four out of five do!!

  10. 

    I have no tattoos. I’m just biding my time until not having tattoos becomes a fashionable trend.

  11. 

    No ink for me…
    I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea, but never to the point where I decided to do it. If I could have convinced The Queen to get ink wedding bands, I would have gone for that in an instant. Otherwise, in college and shortly after, in the height of my dj’ing days, I wanted to get a turntable on one shoulder blade with notes bouncing across my back to the other… But, the thought of explaining that to my grandchildren one day kept me from doing it at the time, and now it wouldn’t make sense anymore…

  12. 

    Tattoos are definitely addicting and I “get” what you mean about there being something about the way it feels when you’re getting one… after some time passes you just want to feel it again.
    And, I have to apologize. I totally thought you hallucinated the tattooed bulldog. I was wrong, I’m willing to admit it 😉

  13. 

    I have some ink, one of my half baked posts/drafts is about them. My first was no bigger than my palm, and would’ve taken no more than hour if I hadn’t stopped half a dozen times to dry-retch…I was a bit of a wussy then. My second was 16 years later, covers my back and took 20 hours in 4 sittings and I loved every minute of it. I must get on and finish that post…and get more ink…hmm…

    • 

      Love, the one on your back is your gravatar, is it not? And quite the testament to your bad-assery!
      Tats are addicting – no one can stop at just one.
      I’m thinking of getting Little Dude’s name around my left ankle, like an ankle bracelet, to match the tribal design around my right. He’s so funny – “Mama, when I’m 18, can we get matching tattoos?” Not realizing that matching tattoos is the LAST thing he will want in 8 years.

      • 

        Yeah, I’m with you on the addictive thing. I have my girls names inside my left bicep and the boys on the inside of my left forearm…they like the idea as much as I do. Matching tattoos? I’d be in that with my daughter if she asked me. I bet lil Dude will honour you that way somehow. (btw, your note yesterday squeezed out a post I had no idea was inside me, thanks)

      • 

        HOLY SHIT! Stop the press! coming over right now, cause when REDdog talks, I listen!

      • 

        To be honest, this one has could get taken wrong…we’ll see…

  14. 

    Last year I had a short lived relationship with a woman, probably early thirties. After our first intimate encounter, I literally gave her a high 5, because upon through inspection she had no tattoos. (I realize a high 5 after sex seems ridiculous, but it was meant in jest and she got that). Tattoos have become so ubiquitous that the person who choses not to have ink is more counter culture than the person covered in it.

  15. 

    I have two tatoos, got both of them in NY. The first one being a Hummingbird. I choose it to remind myself to always love life and enjoy everthing about it ( as I did when I was 25 in NY, that’s the only thing you can do there… be free and live deeply ). Tomorrow I am covering it up with another hummingbird, with more details cause the original one was just an outline. I love tatoos but I love so much more the stories behind them !
    Viola

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