Tuesday, January 15, 2013

T is for ...

T is for... tattoos.

I got my first one waaaaaay back in 1993.
A bunch of girls from my dorm decided to go downtown and get tattoos, so we all paired up to be safer. (Getting a tattoo was not as commonplace as it is today.)
I watched as sets of girls came back from the place we'd researched and selected with their fresh tattoos. One girl who was on crew got two oars crossed, another got a star and moon, I think someone got a palm tree.

Our designated day came and... my partner pooped out on me. She was sick, she couldn't make it to our appointment. (I should mention here that this girl, who became my roommate foolishly the next year, was a hypochondriac and also pretty suggestible. And possibly not so bright. She insisted once that she couldn't go out for ice cream because she had mono, lyme disease and pneumonia. All at once. Suspicious, we asked her if she'd been to see a doctor. She insisted she had been to the Health Center on campus and that's what they told her was wrong with her. We all wondered about the professionalism of a health care provider who would let someone with that trifecta of diseases just walk back to her dorm room with nothing but advice to take an occasional advil. Later in the semester, when she bailed on going to dinner with a bunch of us, we suggested that her abdominal pain might mean that her prostate was swollen. She apparently went to the Health Center with this self-diagnosis. I never heard what the health professionals' reaction was, but she wouldn't speak to us for a week.)

Anyway, even though we had all promised to go in pairs, I wasn't about to cancel my appointment. So I took the bus downtown, walked a couple blocks and found the place. There were a few intimidating looking dudes there, along with a huge fishtank full of enormous snakes. But as I sat waiting for my turn, one of the dudes turned to look at me and asked, "First one?" I nodded. He broke into a huge, goofy grin and said, "Awww, man, you'll be back. It's addicting!" From the looks of him, I guessed that he found lots of things addicting, but it turns out he was onto something.

Yup. We're totally connected.
I got a little green shamrock, about a half-inch high just inside my right hip-bone. It took about all of five minutes. And he shaded the shamrock with three different kinds of green and two yellows. When I showed the artist what I wanted- I used the shamrock from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish logo- he told me that John F. Kennedy Jr. had had the exact same thing done, but his was on his inner elbow. He apparently had been in town to speak at Cornell a few years prior and had come to this exact same shop to get the exact same tattoo I was getting! I never verified the story, but it went a long way toward getting my grandma's approval.

Because that was the most awesome thing about getting a tattoo for me- everyone was shocked that I did it. I thought that was kind of hysterical because I knew six other smart, motivated, nice girls also had just done the same thing. But apparently it totally went against everyone's expectations of me. My family in particular were shocked. I remember coming home the weekend after I'd had it done and showing my dad. He laughed, spit on his finger and tried to rub it off, thinking it was a fake temporary. It was still kind of puffy and sore, so that hurt like a sonofabitch. He knew it wasn't a fake when I jumped back and yelled and it bled a little.

Uncle Jack
My cousin John arrived at school one weekend a few weeks later with my grandma in tow to bring me to Binghamton for a weekend with my uncle, aunt and cousins. John joked about my tattoo the whole ride there. When we got to my aunt & uncle's house, my grandma pulled me aside in the kitchen and said, "Let me have a look at it." She was the first person who actually ASKED to see it. I showed her and she tapped it with her crooked little finger, nodded and said, "Oh, that's not bad at all. That's nice." Then I told her about JFK Jr. having the same thing, done allegedly at the same place, and I was golden. (We're Irish Catholic. My grandma had so many pictures of JFK in her house that until I was nearly nine years old, I thought he was an uncle I'd just never met. Any association with the Kennedys met with instant approval from my Little Gram.)

The guy with the goofy grin in the waiting area was right- it was addicting and I already wanted another. I don't know if it was a burst of adrenaline or just the exhilaration of changing people's ideas of who you are but when I left the shop that afternoon, I felt like I was walking on clouds all the way back to the bus stop. I had an evening class that night and all throughout it, I kept thinking to myself, "I have a tattoo" and feeling the slight soreness on my hip. It was a kind of secret badge of honor, my superhero costume disguised under my street clothes. It was proof that I could be whatever kind of person I wanted to be, and more than just the quiet, shy, smart kid everyone thought I was.

Seven years later, I got my second one, Kermit the Frog, on my right shoulder. The guy who did it told me about how he had Elmer Fudd tattooed on his lower back, on tiptoe with his hunting rifle, along with accompanying rabbit tracks that went all the way down into his butt crack. He kept going on and on about how much those last few rabbit tracks hurt.

This is pretty. But smaller.
And somewhere else.
I've been wanting a third one for a long time now. I promised myself I could get another after I finally finished my novel. I thought about getting a claddaugh around my original shamrock, but I like the simplicity of that original one. I don't want one on my other shoulder- it seems too matchy-matchy. I've been thinking of my lower back, just above my hipbone like where my shamrock is, but on the back. Somewhere that's not too 'tramp-stamp-y.'

I've toyed with the idea of getting Picasso's Owl drawing ('owl' was my first word, so I think that's nicely symbolic to commemorate finishing my first novel) but since the drawing is all one continuous line, you'd have to have a damn fine tattoo artist to pull it off. And there's nothing worse than a poorly done (or misspelled) tattoo.

I really think I may end up getting Graham Roumieu's Bigfoot with HUNT. GATHER. WORRY. printed underneath. I think it's fitting.

Or maybe a nice Natalie Dee comic: 

Friday, January 4, 2013

S is for ...

S is for Sasquatch.

Or Bigfoot. Whichever name you choose.

My friend LB and I have this obsession with 'Squatch.

I even had my awesome friend Gary Rith make this Bigfoot tea set for LB's birthday a year or so ago.

My favorite is Graham Roumieu's Bigfoot books (and awesome Twitter feed).

One must be careful reading them, however, as one is very likely to soil one's drawers from laughing. (Season 3 of Downton Abbey starts Sunday. Shut up.)

The first is "In Me Own Words: The Autobiography of Bigfoot:"
America’s favorite crypto-zoological hominid is hilariously recast as the modern-day everyman, struggling with eating disorders, casual cannibalism, pop culture, and philosophical quandaries (“Me once believe in good. Now, no. World go shit, just like Bigfoot screenwriting career”).

And then "Me Write Book: It Bigfoot Memoir" says:

Like many reclusive celebrities, Big Foot is misunderstood. In his touching memoir Me Write Book he wants to set the record straight, proving that although he’s larger, hairier, and more foul-smelling than most of us, he’s really not so different underneath.

Only the most coldhearted among us could look on without compassion as this hirsute Everyman struggles bravely with casual cannibalism, Pringles potato crisps, embarrassing moments with peach Schnapps, the desperate loneliness of personal ads, and philosophical quandaries.

Readers will never forget the plaintive voice from the wilderness that howls from every page of this searing, intimate account of a man-beast in the promised land.

And then there's "Bigfoot: I Not Dead":

In his eagerly anticipated follow-up to Me Write Book, Bigfoot returns from exile to share his inspiring, hilarious, and often deeply disturbing experiences as a misunderstood forest gentleman and tragic media darling. These entertaining and often grizzly stories stand not only as a testament to the greatness of the legendary man-beast, but also as a chilling cautionary tale of the downside of a life of celebrity, cannibalism, celebrity cannibalism, wanton violence, and lack of toilet training. As in Me Write Book, full-color glossy spreads depict every intimate, disgusting, and downright insane moment of Bigfoot’s life. Bigfoot: I Not Dead is an unforgettable memoir that will stay with readers long after his foul scent has dissipated.

 Roumieu also does a hysterical Twitter feed, Hello Bigfoot, whose description just says "HUNT. GATHER. WORRY." (By the way, this is totally my next tattoo.)

The toys are pretty funny, too (except that idiotic Fisher Price Bigfoot that came out a couple Christmases ago).

I bought LB this Bigfoot action figure one year- it comes with a stamp pad so you can make real Bigfoot tracks!

There was also a Bionic Bigfoot: 

And this super-creepy Yeti toy:

And this won't give you nightmares: