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My First Tattoo

Tags: flash, tattoo,

Getting my first tattoo

I had talked about it for years. Finally one spring day I made up my mind, it was time to get my first tattoo. Now way back then tattoo shops were not permitted in the city of Cleveland, so I had to travel a bit.

I cannot recall how long I wandered between the rows of flash. Flash is what they call the pictures covering the walls in the lobby showing the ink work they can do, they range from tame to wild. I showed the artist what I wanted and he quoted me the price, I agreed and was escorted into the back of the shop. The tattooing area was cleaner than some restaurants I had dined in, it rivaled a doctor's treatment room in cleanliness.

In another chair was a very pretty girl with her back exposed and the letters to her Sorority drawn out on her shoulder blade. The artist must have asked her a dozen times if she was sure and was ready, she answered, "Do it". He fired up his tattoo gun, not unlike the sound of a dentist drill and touched her back.

The scream she let out was deafening. She pulled her shirt down and said "NO FREAKING WAY" and left. My artist looked at me and asked, "Are you gonna scream like a girl?" I told him to "Get on with it".

So he shaved my upper arm and then wiped it clean with a disinfectant, it was still a little tacky, the artist said it was needed. He then departed to find a copy of the picture I selected from his files drawer. It didn't look like much, like one of those color by numbers pictures.

He then placed it on my arm for a minute to transfer the image to my skin. When he removed it, it looked kind of blotchy, like a picture that had been wet and began to run. Each new needle was inspected for barbs, a thin one for outlines and a thicker one for coloring in.

The ink was poured into little cups a little bit bigger than a thimble .He dipped the needle into the first color and fired up the tattoo gun. "OK, say ouch.", and I gritted my teeth in anticipation of the intense pain that was sure to follow as he touched my skin.

To my surprise it really didn't hurt all that much. The only way I can describe it is to strike a match, blow it out and touch your skin. I lit up a cigarette when I saw the artist do it ( you could smoke in the studios back then) and said "I thought it was supposed to hurt?". He answered. "Naw, but don't tell everyone". In about an hour and a half he was done.

I told him my idea to have a 1/2 sleeve of Dracula done, and he said to research carefully. Not all artists have a gentle touch and some can really hurt, mostly it depends on the person and their tolerance to pain. I was given an instruction sheet on the care of new tattoo's. As I walked out I noticed a sign on the counter. Tattoo's are free, you pay for the pain.

I soon departed and walked to my car. Did I care about the beautiful spring day and the things I could do now that he weather was warm? No. All I cared about was planning my next tattoo. I was hooked. 

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