The image was supposed to last for a few weeks, but with all the time I spent hot-tubbing on the cruise ship, it faded within a few days. It wasn't the smartest expenditure I had ever made. I didn't miss the $40 as much as I missed those henna turtles, though. I had grown quite fond of them in the short time they spent on my arm.
Fast-forward six months. With only four weeks to go before my wedding, I decided it was time to get my "something new" to go with my something old, something borrowed and something blue. Designs in hand, Scott and I went to a reputable local tattoo shop. I showed the artist my design and suggested that a saltine-sized image would be appropriate. He insisted that he couldn't squeeze all the detail I wanted into such a small area. I realize now that I should have sacrificed detail for petiteness, but instead I went along with the artist's advice. All I asked was that he place the tattoo in such a way as to cover the vampire-bite-like scars on my back. After all, I wouldn't want all my wedding guests staring at those unsightly marks, would I?
The tattoo artist disappeared into the back of the shop, taking the next half hour to obsessive-compulsively prepare his workspace. The place was hot and I stood by the counter fanning and second-guessing myself. Finally, the artist called me in. He sat me down and made a point (no pun intended) of showing me that the needles he was about to use were brand-new, still sealed in their sterile wrappers.
I don't like needles. I never have. If I were ever to cut off one of my fingers, which isn't all that unlikely, I would sooner sacrifice the digit than have it stitched back on. I am also terrified of bees. So why I would get a tattoo when I had heard that the pain is similar to a bee-sting is beyond me. But I did it. I sat down, bared my back and acted nonchalant. I had noticed the signs on the wall: "Yes, it hurts." "No whiners." I was going to be tough. I could handle this. I had been through worse; remember the crushed toes? I did not cry, jump, turn and punch the tattoo artist in the face or even so much as whimper. And then he started tattooing.
For the first fifteen seconds it wasn't so bad, and I proudly said so. Next, I began to lose consciousness. I was determined not to faint and not to admit how dizzy and overheated I felt, but when I thought that the possibility of me hitting the floor was very real, I had to confess. Especially since, with a strapless dress and 110 wedding guests in my near future, I knew I had to go through with the whole damned procedure. The outline of half a turtle's leg would not do.
The artist paused for a few moments while I shook myself into full consciousness again. He resumed, and I fanned myself madly while trying to remain still. It felt very much like I was being stung by bees for the next 70 minutes. And I was paying for the privilege (by the hour, I might add).
When it was finally over, I scuttled to the front of the shop to recover while Scott took his turn. I did go in to sit with him later on and I could see that he was enjoying the experience just as much as I had. Since he already has a great big tattoo, it must be true what they say about forgetting the pain. I'm looking forward to that. When all was said and done, we looked like this:
The next day, we removed our bandages. Scott looked like this:
Awesome, no? I was immediately envious. Why? Because I looked like this:
Oh, the price of vanity. The tattoo artist didn't quite hit the mark. The two vampire-fang-puncture wounds (actually cat-claw puncture wounds that I couldn't stop picking at) now straddle the turtle's back leg. One of them, right by the tail, could be mistaken for turtle crap. So now, instead of maybe noticing two faded dots on my back, my wedding guests will be gawking at a giant blue pooping turtle. To make matters worse, the turtle is so large that it will show even when I'm wearing a regular shirt. Its head sticks juuust a little bit out the neckhole: that's right, it's turtleheading. Tell me that isn't humiliating.