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02.14.2003 - 5:09 p.m.

Friday

Didn't I tell you I had a tattoo? I didn't? Well, I do. Technically, I have four.

My favorite tattoo:

The tattoo I absolutely love and have never regretted one day of my life is the tribally type band that encircles my upper left arm. I got it when I was 18, so ye gods, that makes it damn near 11 years old. I went to a tattoo place with a friend of mine who I can no longer recall with any clarity whatsoever. Her name? Blank. What kind of tattoo she got? 404: File Not Found. However, I do remember the experience of deciding upon and then getting my own tattoo perfectly.

I had leafed through a bunch of magazines and found an armband I fell in love with. The tattoo artist, a recent graduate from Reed college with a fine arts degree, re-created the band with her own original touch - she claimed she refused to do any copied artwork, or cartoon characters, etc. I remember she put the design on a strip of paper coated with men's deodorant, then stuck it to my arm, which somehow transferred the ink. I had the whole band done in two sessions that lasted a few hours each. Blackwork is evil, the needle has to go over and over and over the same spot until your skin is shrieking and begging for mercy. When the needle is going, it releases a fine spray of ink that makes it hard to see what you're tracing - she called it "tattooing with The Force". She played music the whole time, it was the first time I heard The Breeders. The only tattoo she had was of a small pear on her hip. Her favorite tattoo that she had done was of a children's drawing; a smiling family, a yellow sun. I remember seeing a guy come in whose leg was tattooed so that it looked as though the flesh was peeled back to expose metal pistons, which I thought was so fucking cool.

My second favorite tattoo:

Around the time I was 21, there was a local tattoo artist who asked me, a Kinko's drone at the time, to occasionally make color prints of his various designs. As payment for the favor he offered me a free tattoo, which I accepted. It took me a long time to figure out what design I wanted. I finally stumbled on a postcard with a gorgeous dragonfly on it, and that's what I brought into his shop. In the first session he tattooed the black outline of the dragonfly, and I was very happy with the results. During the second session he put in the color, and I was so disappointed. I cried all the way home, thinking I had ruined what could have been a beautiful tattoo. But once the brightness of the color faded, I liked it better. These days, since it's right below my neck on my back, I rarely see it, and rarely think about it. I'm glad it's there, though. I've picked up various dragonfly-themed things since, so it feels like part of a collection.

The fugly tattoo:
I have the world's most corny and downright ugly tattoo. I'll tell you how it got there before I tell you what it is. Back when Yours Truly was striving to be the hippest vampire in all of Corvallis, Oregon - back when Manic Panic hair dye stained every single one of my pillowcases - back when "Cuz It's Hot" by the Thrill Kill Kult was my favorite song to listen to while blasted out of my gourd - back when...oh fuck it, suffice to say it was several years ago. There was this guy, named Raven, who had a homeade tattoo needle. I think the thing was rigged to an electric toothbrush or some shit. Anyway, it was many the local goth that allowed their skin to be permanently inked by Raven's wobbly needle. I wonder how many are now facing thirty, wishing they had never gotten that bat/skull/radiation symbol.

Mine? It's a rose. On my chest, where my heart would be on my right side. It's stretched with time, too, so not only is it a crappy home-grown cheeseball of a tattoo, but now it looks a lot more like a tulip.

I could get rid of it, I suppose, but I hardly notice it. My clothes cover it. When I see it in the mirror I don't even think about it - it's been there for so long that like it or not, it's a part of me.

But I'm not showing you a picture of it, goddamn it.

The almost non-existent tattoo:

When I was in high school, I used to skip class all the time. As punishment, I would get served with Saturday school, a weekend detention a la The Breakfast Club. Except without the, you know, shenanigans and all.

As I remember, you couldn't talk or anything, you just had to sit there. And at some point, there began a trend of using a needle dipped in india ink to give yourself your very own tattoo. What a fucking fabulous idea, no? Lack artistic talent? Filled with teenage angst and pissed at the world? Hey, why not etch something into your body that NEVER GOES AWAY.

I gave myself something that ended up looking like a dagger, sort of, on the pad of flesh between my thumb and forefinger on my left hand. And there it stayed, through the years. It faded a lot, but was still very visible and served as an increasingly humiliating conversation piece - from a boss's curious comment to the palpable disapproval of JB's parents.

Finally, about 3 years ago, I went in for laser treatment to have it removed. They told me it would take about 5 sessions. They also told me that the laser would feel much like having a rubber band snapped against my hand. They were right about the second thing, but not really the first - I only had one treatment and it's faded so much it's almost invisible. If I look very hard, I can see the faint tracings of what it used to be, and there's one solitary dot that resisted the laser, but all in all it's practically gone.

So I have two I regret, and two I don't. Pretty good odds, really, for a person who tends to change their opinions more often than their bedsheets.

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