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.”
But there were so many pretty pictures to choose from.
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.
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.