No one was more surprised than I was when I said
The words were barely out of my mouth when I realized that I had just said Yes to something I had been saying No to for a long time. Well, that's really an understatement. My opposition was far more dictatorial than that.
I had decreed to my three daughters that there would be no piercings or inkings in my house! I believed that the best defense was an offense.
But there it was: Yes. I had just agreed to get a tattoo with my 19 year old daughter.
My poor wife is still trying to make sense of this abrubt sea change.
We found the Black Line Tattoo Studio online. She made appointments for us and instructed me to find a design that I wanted. She had done her homework and chose a line from a poem that held deep meaning for her. It was to go down her back.
I decided on a Thunderbird, the image of transformational change and my great helping ally.
Next thing I knew I was sitting in the chair peering at a kid, probably no more than 12 (everybody looks twelve to me these days), covered from head to toe (presumably) with tattoos and piercings. On top of all that, he wore a baseball cap, hip-hop style. Don't get me wrong. I didn't mind the ball cap. It was the whole ensemble that was somewhat unnerving. Like an encounter with a space alien.
Ok, so I was nervous. But I didn't cry when the needles began to whine. I sucked it up like a man.
The young artist turned out to be a really cool kid. A rock musician who got tired of the wear and tear of the road. He had been working with ink for five years, three or four customers a day. He wanted to know if I was a musician. Yes, I said. I am a journey drummer.
Journey, he asked? That dinosaur band?
I was a little too young for that lineup, I insisted.
I told him about the ancient practice of journey drumming, a form of sonic driving that produces a natural altered state. It has been used for centuries and by many cultures as a way of envisioning the future.
Cool, he said.
It took about 45 minutes to complete the bloodletting. I emerged, back on the street, a little dazed but feeling like I had just been initiated into a very old fraternity.
And I really like my new ball cap, on sideways with the peak flattened out.
© Patrick O’Neill 2011. All rights reserved.