My First Tattoo
The subjects of tattoos, the process of tattooing and the notion that I would entertain getting one myself, have been pretty benign in the hierchy of thoughts of missed opportunities that ocassionally cross my mind. I do vaguely remember the day my ex-boyfriend got his first tattoo. It was of his puppy rottweiller. There may have been some flames or skulls around the dog’s image. I don’t remember now. I remember the puppy. As it turned out, he and my ex never really hit it off and eventually the tough little canine began to growl everytime they came into contact. The dog was eventually passed forward when he was about 6 months old. My ex most likely still has the tattoo. However, most of my ‘tattoo contemplation experiences’ have been focused on my youngest daughter.
It was not until my daughter, Tara-Rose, began to get ‘inked’ long before the legal age of consent, that I gave the whole phenomenon any serious thought. The memory of her first tattoo evades me but the emotions that I had when I found out she got it are still crystal clear in my mind. By the time I had processed the realization that my little girl had went and gotten a tatoo, she already had about five more of them. Soon they were popping up everyone. At that point it was no longer how I felt about my daughter getting a tattoo, it became more about which ones I liked and which ones I didn’t. It also became increasingly difficult to cover them up in front of grandma and grandpa. She has already had the one of the boyfriend’s name (can’t remember which boyfriend anymore) covered over. I was never really fond of the big broken crackly heart with a line of song lyrics that some band went to the top with about 5 years ago. That seemed too dated to me. To put it in further perspective, I imagined how content I would be now if I had tattooed a plaid kilt on my back with the phrase S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT etched into the middle of it.
Within time, I did soften up enough to actually like the huge one of the vertical music staff with notes that she had trailing down from the far left side of her midriff to her left hip. We are all very connected to music and there was something oddly attractive about this one. Then one year, we put aside our mother/daughter angst and had a particularly poignant bonding experience. I decided to attend the local marijuana rally (the 420) for the purposes of writing an article and my daughter just happened to be planning to attend it so we made plans to go together. Surprisingly, she didn’t take offense to my acerbic skew of the rally and we laughed all day long. Then we laughed some more. We just kept laughing and laughing until it finally dawned on us that we probably did really love each other.
I returned home and promptly wrote my article. calling it “Bridging The Gap”. It ended up being more about the experience of attending this with my daughter than it was about the pros and cons of legalizing cannibis. A few weeks later by daughter commemorated that experience by having the words “Bridge The Gap’ tattooed on her ankle. Right about it she had the Chinese symbol for mother embedded with ink and below, the Chinese symbol for daughter. Well, we think that this is what the symbols stand for anyhow. For quite some time after that, she encouraged me to get a tattoo. We joked about it but the answer was always a definite ‘NO’! She stopped bringing it up quite a few years ago and I never gave it anymore thought.
Then last year, out of the blue, my boyfriend’s dog caught fleas and everytime I would visit him, the pests would swarm to my ankles. One particularly venemous flea got me right above the left ankle bone. The bites came and went but this one just wouldn’t disappear. Next thing you know, it started spreading. When the spot was the size of a pea, I became worried enough to get a biopsy done. Apparently, it wasn’t cancerous but it sure was weird and unnattractive. When the spot because the size of a penny, people started noticing and saying stuff like, “I think you have a piece of gum stuck to your ankle”. I promptly made a beeline to the dollar store to stock up on cheap and thick stretchy bracelets to cover it up. Sure, ankle bangles might have appeared a bit risque on a middle aged woman, but they were my preferable option. When the spot became the size of a quarter, I secretly started contemplating a tattoo. From time to time I would cover it with temporary sparkly Canada Flag tattoos that I picked up at the local Canada Day Celebration.
So, when Super Model Flabio asked me if I would consider getting my first tattoo for an online interview he was planning to shoot with a local tattoo artist, I found myself saying, “SURE”. I little time to reconsider and not much time to decide what I had in mind either. I scoured the net and googled my concept and came up with something relatively close. My grandpa was not only a beekeeper but also a real hero in my life. Bees have come to symbolize him. It happens that he and my daughter were both born on May 1, so they shared a special bond when he was living. Further, he was a nature photographer and was intrigued with roses. My daughter’s name is Tara-Rose. Interconnecting all these significances, I settled for a chubby little fairy baby girl perched in a rose bud, with a honey bee watching on.
There’s no better day than Mother’s Day to get your first tattoo and I awoke with an actual sense of excitement. The artist, James Takeo Panton had just returned to the area from a stint out west and was anxious to begin the process of setting up business at Sik Liquid Tattoos on Geneva Street in St. Catharines. I refused to let the trendy business name throw me off in my resolve to just ‘GO FOR IT’. James and I facebooked friended each other and he was great in taking the time to IM me and answer all of my pre-tattoo concerns. I had sent him the tattoo that I wanted with my modifications. When we arrived, he was ready to go. First, I had to wait while the Super Model set up the recording equipment and then of course, he had to conduct the initial part of the interview with James only. They discussed the drawing process and the safety protocols that were involved. I began to feel quite safe, as I got the sense that this tattooing stuff was very serious business, at least to my tattooist. Then came the main event. As it turns out, my scar couldn’t be properly covered so I opted to place the tattoo above it. The machine sounded like a dentist’s drill and I braced myself for that first contact with my virgin cankle. The precise moment of impact was much less traumatic than I had imagined. It was nothing like giving birth and certainly much less painful than a bikini wax. James and I were able to chat to the camera throughout the process and he didn’t miss a line. I got to pick my own colours and before I could say S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT, the tattoo was finished and more importantly, it was PERMANENT.
I decided that I really like the tattoo. There were no regrets and James Takeo Panton showed me a different side of this growing subculture. He was professional, accurate and very proud of his work—a true artist.
The tattoo healed quickly and I loved co-ordinating my sandles and earrings to the various colours in it. I’ve even taken an interest in the bucket of crayons they bring you at family restaurants. I like sorting through them to find the colours that match the ones on my tattoo. Tara-Rose was happy with it and the fact that I would include her in the big event. My youngest son, Benji is 14 and everytime a friend shows up he tells them, “My mom got a tattoo” and then I show them. I showed my sister under the table at a family dinner a few weeks back. All in all, I’m happy I did it. They say that you can’t just stop at one. So far, I haven’t felt the urge to get another one but this has taught me to NEVER say NEVER.
I am one hip grandma now–EDGY, FLASHY and DEFIANT. I like that feeling! I have been there and done that and it is all good. Now, the only thing I’m wondering is how long it will be before my mom and dad notice it! Then, I’m in trouble!
Written by Linda Jones
Linda Jones is a mother/tour guide/actress/writer who is always looking for ways to express her creative side
Filed under: Legal Bud
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