July 13, 2012

Wait, they don’t tattoo BABIES, do they?

– My mother.

I’d spent years lusting after a sleeve (read: a tattoo that goes on your upper arm)(I felt it necessary to define it because, well, um, if I told you I’d been lusting after a sleeve, that would make it sound as though I lacked shirts with sleeves, and as a resident of Chicago, where winter is affectionately called, “ass cold,” that would be ridiculous).

ANYWAY. A sleeve. I wanted one. I was also shit-scared about getting one.

If you know anything about my tattooing history, you know that I

a) go big

2) go home.

It’s not like anyone was all, “If you get a sleeve tattoo, you’re a douchebag,” except for my mother, who harkens back to the days in which tattoos were for sailors and pimps, something she PROBABLY should’ve left out of her lectures to both my brother and I – who both (independently) took that knowledge to mean, “you know what? I DO need a lot of tattoos.”

Let this be a lesson to you, parents: be careful what you tell your children. For example, do not say, “Those weird ear plug things are waaayyyy trashy,” and whatever you do, do not say (unless you will be okay with the outcome,) “if you become an interpretive dancer, I WILL disown you.”

My mom’s big thing was that “tattoos were trashy.” What I heard was: “tattoos are awesome. You should get a lot of them.”


Those ‘ens were the first of my tattoos.

Which, if anyone tells you otherwise, DO NOT BELIEVE THEM: feet tattoos hurt like a motherfucker.

But? They have special meanings to me, which I may explain in exhaustive detail at a later date, but let me leave you with this: a month before my wedding, I got the seahorse tattoo to remind me that I would ALWAYS be okay alone – I didn’t need a partner; I wanted one.

Eventually, after approximately 87 years, I “finished*” this tattoo, which you’re probably familiar with:

ย Phoenix Tattoo

My phoenix tattoo.

While I’d always lusted after a sleeve tattoo, I just wasn’t brave enough to attempt it. Besides, the only idea I’d had for a sleeve tattoo seemed kinda…silly, and really, a sleeve? On me? I didn’t know if I could pull it off. I was, and I’m being honest here, afraid of the idea. I’d noted that I’d been afraid a lot, over the years, much more than the girl I’d once known – I didn’t like it, but I didn’t quite know how to fix it.

As we drove down to NashTucky, countin’ tires on the side of the road, I let my mind roam – I knew I wouldn’t be getting a present this year, beyond the dildo/highlighter and rad CD tunage (which, let’s face it, is present enough)(If you like John C. Mayer), and I didn’t want that to be the defining moment of my 32nd year on the planet. Besides, no present, BEYOND the John C. Mayer CD would fix my life.

So, I decided to get myself a present.

Something to remind myself of the important lessons I was learning: in my new life, I must be brave; I must learn to take risks and I must be ready to do whatever it takes to get by (note: Craig’s List no longer has “casual encounters” so that’s out.). I must be proud of who I am, stand upright, be strong, and remember that I? Can get through anything.

Dawn had known of my plan – I’d originally planned to get some text written on me like my girl Dana had done, but realized that without doing precisely what she’d done, I wasn’t really going to get anywhere. This meant that Dawn, being the Type-A overachiever, much like myself had already pulled up a list of names and numbers of local tattoo parlors in NashTucky; the ones, of course, with the highest ratings.

When we finally arrived in NashVegas, I began to call the places Dawn had thoughtfully picked out. The first one – the one with the highest ratings – said “come on in!” To which I replied, in my VERY Type-A style, “but do I need an appointment first?” (I loathe doing ANYTHING without an appointment. I’d probably schedule bathroom breaks if I didn’t run my own schedule). Also: the tattoo was the one thing I’d be getting for my birthday and, quite frankly, I wanted it DONE so we could do other things and never mention my birthday again.

“Naw,” the guy said. “Just come on in.”

So we did.

We drove through what was probably the worst part of NashVegas, noting the sheer amount of “Quik Cash Payday Loan” shops peppering the sides of the streets, a sinking feeling of “what the shitnuts am I doing?” gnawing my guts. Then I remembered: I was being brave. Also: stupid. But hey, who’s counting?

Finally we turned down a quiet street.

“PHEW,” I said to Dawn, who looked equally stupefied by the locale. “At least all the houses aren’t…”

“Oh wait. They are.”

Yep. For every house we passed, the following three had boarded-up windows. I wanted to scream, SOUTHSIIIIIDDDDDEEEEEEE out the window but figured that I didn’t even have a tampon to bring to a gun fight, therefore I should shut my whore mouth.

Finally we pulled up to a tiny house, lit softly by a yellowish light, the front porch nearly taken up by two white rocking chairs. The humidity and moths circling about the lone light fixture on the porch gave everything a sort of hazy look, and I wondered if this was what living in Florida during the summers was like. The two rocking chairs were occupied by two fairly scary looking guys – I wondered, briefly, if I’d been friends with them in another life.

I walked in first, Dawn tagging along behind me, both of us nervous as cats in a roomful of rocking chairs, because, well, this was a BIG fucking deal for us both.

Pretending I wasn’t shitting my pants (thank GOD for adult-diapers), I walked up to the guy behind the counter and said, “I need a tattoo – two of them, actually.” He looked at me, carefully assessing me to see if I was, perhaps, going to ask for him to write “I heart Nickelback” on my ass or something.

“Where do y’all want it?” he drawled in a very pleasant accent; the kind I’d have been happy to listen to as I went to sleep.

“Right…HERE,” I gestured to my upper arm.

“Whatcha want there?” he asked.

“A peacock.” I replied, suddenly damn certain I was doing the right thing.

It was like the entire room perked up at once, suddenly listening, as though I’d said something ACTUALLY interesting (which, let’s be honest with ourselves – wasn’t like I said, “I KILLED JFK!” or “Tattoo Hitler’s likeness on my bunghole,” or anything).

He examined my arm.

“Y’all know that’s going to be huge, right?” He asked doubtfully, as though I’d expected to have to use a magnifying glass to see it.

I pulled down my dress to show him my back. “I’m good with big,” I smiled nervously, hoping I wasn’t about to make a horrifying mistake.

We examined a few pictures of peacock tattoos online until I found one that I liked. Adrenaline pumping, I steadied myself for (apologies to Mรถtley Crรผe ) the Theatre of Pain I was about to endure…that is, until he began to speak to the actual tattoo guy, who said, “well, let’s make her an appointment tomorrow so I can draw this out.”

Fair enough. I didn’t need someone I didn’t know to go all free form on my arm.

But…gulp, TOMORROW? We had the Country Music Hall of Fame and Studio B to tour! And! And! And!

I threw a small temper tantrum inside my mind as I reluctantly made an appointment for the following day. All that wasted adrenaline. We trudged back outside, and did the only thing we could think to do:

We went back to the lavish hotel and ordered burgers.

brothers winkelvii

When the brothers Winklevii didn’t appear with our burgers, I won’t lie, Dawn and I were MORE than a bit disappointed.

Part II will air tomorrow because this shit is LONG, motherfucker.

*note usage of “air quotes.”

70 thoughts on “NashTucky: Where Fear Goes To Die

  1. I’m freaking lovin’ the Nashtucky Chronicles, AB!!! Can’t wait to see the new ink. ๐Ÿ™‚ Mucho loves and hearts hearts hearts to you.

      1. I think that is an excellent idea! I work from home…I swear it’s making me crazier than my normal crazy. Getting out of our usual habitat (oh, big words! LOL) helps get us back to some semblance of sanity. Very jealous of your ink, to be honest. My hubby is against the idea…*sigh*…so in order to keep the peace, I’ve shut up about it and lust over everyone else’s beautiful body art.

  2. I’ve wanted a tattoo for a long time – and the only place I can see getting it is on my foot. Leave it to me to pick an extra super painful spot.

  3. “The humidity and moths circling about the lone light fixture on the porch gave everything a sort of hazy look, and I wondered if this was what living in Florida during the summers was like.”

    Yep, pretty much

    Can’t wait to see the tattoo.

  4. Love the toenail color – we’re twins! – and the seahorse. They rock. Can’t wait to see the peacock girl. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. With any luck (and some painkillers), I might get my first one tomorrow with my mom. She needs one of her eleventyseven finished and touched up. Keep the awesomeness coming, Bex. Have fun in NashVegas!

  6. totally cannot wait to see it. i just recently got myself a big ‘ole flower (cliche i know) as a coverup on my right calf. it. is. huge. i LOVE getting tattoos. and yes. i got the whole diatribe about how ‘eviiiil’ and ‘for men only’ they were. my dad forbade me to get one. my first: two days before my 18th birthday. and now: i am coming up on ten. and not stopping anytime soon. i have seriously been wanting to do a full sleeve. either arm or leg. we will see.

    as for you: cannot WAIT to see pictures!!

  7. Foot tattoos = OuchOuchOuchOuch…

    I saw that picture up there and cringed. You’re a better man then I, Aunt Becky.

    I got a rose on the inside of my forearm and it didn’t hurt at all. I won’t guess about yours, though. Anything over a bone hurts like a MoFo.

  8. I am so glad that I am not the only one who thinks tattoo’s freakin kill. I got my first tattoo in March and I went big 5 1/2 hours of no stop pain and believe me i don’t cry easy and the tears were coming out. So glad I got this tattoo and I want another one but then I remember the damn pain.

    Cant wait to see your new tattoo so exciting:-)

  9. I am going to be super jealous, I can tell already. I am too wimpy to do a sleeve but I want one soooo badly. I’m just working on my back, which of course nobody can see.

  10. You’re crazy brave. I’m a wimp and have none. My brother got his first last summer. It was a crazy thing in our household. ๐Ÿ˜‰ My SIL has a bunch and they’re beautiful.

    I know everyone is excited to see it but I feel like I have. Maybe on Twitter? And if so — and it’s not me making it up and dreaming about your tattoo, which would be kind of nutso, even for me, then it’s beautiful. And if I have not seen it, I’m sure it rocks. Sounds like a refresher, the kind of trip you absolutely had to have. Yay!

  11. Bravo!! I’m so glad you did something AWESOME for your birthday!! I don’t think I’ve seen pictures of the “finished” phoenix yet! It’s gorgeous!! I can’t wait to see the peacock (I frickin LOVE peacocks!! Gorgeous, and give you an excuse to say “cock”) in person in ONE MONTH!!!! Gah!! I’m so excited!!

    EXCLAMATION POINTS ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. I wanna see!!!
    And if one of those road trips ends up being a plane trip to England let me know- seriously Hun.x

  13. people tattoo out of houses? like, safely and legally? forgive me for being sheltered. but i had to take a blood borne pathogens class and get certified by the county to pierce. and the only place one is allowed to pierce or tattoo in new york is in a licensed tattoo salon.

    i’m assuming you didn’t die or anything from dirty needles. but i hope you checked to see if the autoclave was plugged in. i was getting my mani-pedi on at this nail salon one day and the lady put her little tray of nail utensils into an autoclave and i thought, huh, they must not be running that one now. then i saw another lady take a little tray OUT OF IT and USE IT ON ANOTHER CUSTOMER. and then i noticed the autoclave wasn’t plugged in.

  14. Mayer has a number of tattoos. These include: “Home” and “Life” (from the song title) on the back of his left and right arms respectively, “77” (his year of birth) on the left side of his chest, and a koi -like fish on his right shoulder. His entire left arm is covered in a sleeve tattoo that he acquired gradually, ending in April 2008; it includes: “SRV” (for his idol, Stevie Ray Vaughan ) on his shoulder, a decorated rectangle on his biceps, a dragon-like figure on his inner arm, and various other floral designs. In 2003, he got a tattoo of three squares on his right forearm, which, he has explained, he will fill in gradually.

  15. I’ve been wanting a tattoo across my hips for years. That’s it- my baby needs to wean immediately so I can go get a tattoo and keep the possible Hep to myself. Damn you, lovely baby!

    I can’t wait to see your ink. *squee*

  16. Tou’re a braver woman than i am, though it would almost be worth the pain I’d endure just to see my LDS relatives go Manson Family crazy.

  17. I wanna know what the “name” of this “tattoo parlor” is. I am looking at getting my 6th and dont know where I should go. My last was done at NashvilleInk….I liked them ok. I could never get anything that big – I am a wuss, all mine are small, most are under clothes 99% of the time but I am stepping out in that area – my last is on the inside of my wrist/forearm. (pink ribbon).
    Anywho…..I cant wait to hear what happened. ๐Ÿ™‚ (and see pics if you actually did get it)

  18. You’re right about the foot tattoos! My friend is a fucking liar! The ones on your head behind the ear hurt like hell also. And if anyone thinks it’s a good idea to get a dainty tattoo of a ladybug? Don’t. It’ll usually turn out looking like an engorged wood tick. Pretty.

  19. oooo can’t wait to hear what happens next. Also a peacock sounds awesome. Though they are pretty damn frightening. Got chased by one once as a kid while walking my dog.

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