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So, I Got a Tattoo.

March 12, 2013

After about four years of thinking about and talking about and Googling about getting a tattoo, I finally did it.

I like it.

A lot.

(Sorry, Dad. Also, surprise!)

Here’s the deal: I read basically everything I could find on the Internet about the experience of getting a tattoo for the first time—what to expect, how to care for it, how to clean it, how to make sure it doesn’t fade quickly or become infected or put you in the E.R. I talked to friends who had gotten tattoos before about what they were most surprised about or what they didn’t expect to happen when they got their tattoo. I watched a bunch of Kat von D television. I felt like I knew what was up and what to expect and how to proceed.

So I go to the tattoo place (I refuse to use the word “parlor” because…ew.) and immediately feel like the preppiest, most inexperienced, most precious idiot on the planet. When I explain to the really incredibly adorable, but also very bad-ass looking front desk lady what I want, she gives me no judgment at all and grabs a tattoo artist who is free so that he can sketch out what I want. We talk about my tattoo and he is not as nice about it. He openly rolls his eye at what I want (it *is* just birds, which I know are popular and therefore not hard core, but I AM PAYING YOU. STOP ROLLING YOUR EYES.)  asks me a few questions, tells me to fill out a consent form, and then sketches out my tattoo.

When he brings it over to show me, I’m a little concerned that it’s actually a bit larger than I’d like it to be (I’m that person, shut up.) but I’m too afraid of him to tell him that. So I tell him it’s great and we go over to the chair to get the whole process started.

The actual act of getting a tattoo was pretty much what I expected—it wasn’t a pleasant feeling, but it wasn’t torturous. I bled a little, but I’m not freaked out by blood, so that was no big deal. Because my tattoo is relatively small, it took about 20 minutes to be inked, and all in all, I was at the tattoo place for maybe an hour. I was glad to leave, not because I disliked the tattoo place, but because the guy who tattooed me was the most miserable human ever. I kept trying to make small talk and so I’d say, “This funky disco music y’all are playing is fun,” and he’d be like, “They’ve been playing it all day and I want to fucking shoot myself in the head so I don’t have to listen to it anymore.” For real. Everything I said was countered with something like that.

I hope that someday he finds something in life that he enjoys.

Anyway, what no blog or TV show or person I talked to mentioned about your tattoo-getting experience was that about 15 minutes after you are tattooed it starts to burn. Inside your skin. It is very uncomfortable and all you want to do is writhe around and open your veins and pour water in them. Or go to the hosptial becuase you think maybe your body is rejecting the ink and is going to force it out of your skin. Perhaps in an exploding fashion.

So I look at my sister, who is driving, and who has a tattoo, and I say as calmly as I can, “Olivia. My wrist is burning.” She looks over and says, “Yeah, that’s normal.” And I yelled, “WHY DID YOU NEVER MENTION A BURNING SENSATION?”

She ignored me and kept driving until we hit traffic, which was stopped dead still for awhile. We assumed it was a wreck or a jack-knifed trailer or something, but it turned out that there were hundreds of loaves of French bread that spilled off a truck and people were trying to not run them over. I swear to God, that is the truth. I couldn’t make that shit up.

About an hour later, I took off the bandage the tattoo artist put on. (He told me to take it off after an hour. I’m such an instruction follower it’s ridiculous.) I wasn’t shocked to find that the tattooed area was a) extremely swollen, b) a little bloody around the perimeter, and c) very very very very tender.


So I washed it with the particular soap brand I was told to clean it with and applied some Aquaphor to my wrist.

Everything went as it was supposed to for a few days. The swelling went down, the tenderness subsided, and the tattoo started to heal, which means that it scabbed over. What I didn’t realize would happen is that the scab is black (or, I assume, the color of the ink you choose), and that at the end of the healing process, will start to shed. So it looks like your tattoo is shedding.

Basically what happens is this: You apply some Aquaphor to your scabbed over tattoo, and as you very gently rub the ointment in, big black chunks (I apologize for saying “chunks”) will slough (I apologize for saying “slough”) off of your skin. It is a deeply unsettling thing to watch happen.

But! The good news is that after the sloughing (Really, I’m so sorry. I promise there isn’t a better word to use.), your tattoo is basically healed! Hooray!

Now I’m concerned that my watch is making it wear off. Because I’m clearly insane.

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