Monday, September 20, 2010

A story followed by a random pro-tattoo argument.

The first time I got my ears pierced I was six years old and excited. Until they pierced my first ear, and it hurt so badly that I immediately clamped my small hand over my other ear and refused to let them pierce the other one.

It took my mother twenty minutes to convince me to let them pierce my other ear, and even then, it was only after she bought me a pair of sunglasses that I let them move my hand away and stopped threatening to bite them if they touched me. I actually had bit my mother at one point, and I kicked a lot. I feel rather sorry for those women. And for the doctors who got the same treatment from me every time I had to get a shot.

I left the piercings in for three weeks before I ignored my mother and had Daddy take them out because they were just irritating the hell out of me. My hair kept getting wrapped around the studs and I hated it. Mom was pissed at Daddy for that. Something about wasting money.

When I was fourteen I decided to brave the pain and get them pierced again because I wanted to be able to wear real earrings, not just the clip on earrings they sold in the kids' section of jewelry. It hurt just as much as I remembered, but I was smarter and had them pierce both ears at the same time so that I couldn't freak out and change my mind. The women were a little put off my by my request, but they did it.

It's much more efficient to be in pain all at once rather than doling it out into two separate times.

When I was sixteen my older sister was eighteen, we were down in Jax (Jacksonville, Florida) visiting old friends and family with our mom when she decided to get her naval pierced. When we went to the tattoo shop to get it done, the guy said they were having a two for one special, so I could get my done for free.

He told me it would hurt less than getting my ears pierced, and since my mom gave her consent, it seemed like an good idea. Sherrell made me get mine done first so I wouldn't chicken out.

Yeah, the piercer lied.

Let me just explain something: having a fat metal bar jammed through the skin of your belly button and out through the top above it is NOT less painful than having a skinny needle put through your earlobe. Your ear lobe is just cartilage, and your stomach is actually skin and muscle and it's got lots of nerves. It hurt a million times more.

In fact, I screamed bloody murder. I screamed so loud I actually scared people out of the tattoo shop. Sherrell said that a girls face turned white when she heard me, and she said she didn't really want a tattoo anymore.

I felt like I'd done a public service. I saved her some awful pain.

And I know I saved that girl from some pain because I got a tattoo when I was nineteen (against my will, I'll have you know. I tried to jump off the table and run when he stabbed me the first time) and it was WAY worse than my ears and my naval being pierced. Of course it hurt. I was being stabbed repeatedly by a needle that was pushing ink into my skin to leave a permanent mark on me.

I still have my piercings and my tattoo, but I'm done with intentionally causing myself pain with needles. I'll not get a second set of holes in my ears, I won't pierce my lip or my eyebrow or my female areas. I will not get another tattoo. I'm so against the pain I'm not even going to have the tattoo removed unless they could do it in one session. Even then, I'd only do it if they could put me under a LOT of painkillers and could knock me out.

Which I doubt they'll do.

So I'll just leave it as is. It's scarred from my jeans rubbing it when it was healing. But I'm not even going to get it touched up. Absolutely not.

I won't even go with my sisters to get tattoos. Rells (the oldest) has seven, Brat (second youngest) has five, and Wheat (the baby) has one, but it's huge and it's on her ribs. I don't know how the hell she endured the needle that long, but more power to her, I guess. My mom has one tattoo. I'm pretty sure both of my uncles have tattoos as well. It actually makes me more inclined to get mine removed.

It's not that I don't like tattoos. I admire them. I admire the people that can deal with the pain to get back pieces and sleeves. I admire the artists that create them. And make no mistake, a tattoo is art. A tattoo is greater than art because you live your life in it, you take it with you everywhere, and the word sees it as a representation of you and what you've been through and who you are and what's important to you and where you're going with your life. A tattoo can say so many things, and they're all different, just like the people who wear them are all different.

Admittedly, there are some tattoos out there that are just bad. Portraits done by tattooists who can't draw or shade to save their lives, misspelled names and words, disco balls that look like golf balls. Some people just should not tattoo, and you should always check their portfolios, just like you would before you hired an interior decorator or you commissioned a portrait from a painter or a photographer.

I know there are a lot of people out there who see someone with a tattoo and automatically think "drug addict" or "alcoholic" or "tacky" or "dangerous", but there are a lot of soccer moms out there who go out and get tattoos because they've lost a child, or a husband, or a parent, and they just want a way to remember them, to honor them, to keep them on Earth in some tangible way that won't fade. And you shouldn't judge people for that, ever.

Because it's their body, and they can express their love and their pain and their sense of humor on their skin if they want to, and you should just appreciate the aesthetic beauty of the creation.

Or that's the way I see it. Don't judge my tattoo. It just shows that I love my sister, even if she is a giant dork who wouldn't buy me a real present if I didn't let her get me permanently marked as being related to her.


  1. I don't judge people for having tattoos. I'm a very "live and let live" kind of person. In fact, I came very close to getting a tattoo right after I lost my second pregnancy to a miscarriage. I wanted some way to deal with the emotional pain and the dark place that I was in. But in the end, I just couldn't brave the needles. They really freak me out.

    I admit I snickered just a little as you told your navel-piercing story. Did you seriously clear the faint-hearted out of the tattoo shop? Classic! :)

    Also, just out of curiosity, what is your tattoo?

  2. The whole judging others thing never made sense to me. We all make our own decisions, and as long as we don't hurt anyone else in the process, no one has a right to judge us.

    I hate pain, so no needles for me. Though I DO donate blood regularly, because I figure a little pain is worth it if it helps someone else out.

    Thanks for the blog-follow! Thought I'd follow your link back and say hi. Nice to see another writer!

  3. Candice: Yes, I seriously scarred other people out of the shop when I got my naval pierced, and the man looked mad when my sister told everybody. Apparently screaming customers is bad for business everywhere. I can't bring myself to feel guilty for it, though. Like I said, it was a public service.

    And my tattoo is a blue (of course) sister symbol to the pink one my sister has, mean younger sister and her's says older sister. She looked it up and did the research and had a friend design the silly things. Frankly, if she hadn't promised to buy me that really awesome clock, I wouldn't have gotten it done. I HATE needles almost as much as I hate bugs. And that's saying a lot.

    Carmi: I don't remember leaving a link. It must do it automatically.

    I think I accidentally followed you twice. Actually, I think I'm following Candice twice, too. I have no idea how I did that, but I'm sorry if it seems like I'm stalking you. I just like to read your blog. Maybe one day I'll participate.

    I tried to donate blood once (in a moment of pure insanity) but they told me I was too underweight. I thought maybe it was like a sign that I'm not meant to get over my aversion to needles, so I never tried again. I do donate clothes to the homeless and money to the Make A Wish Foundation and Saint Jude's. I'm poor, but I like to help when I can because even just a little makes a difference.

  4. *sigh* I SCARED people. Not scarred. My hands get excited and type faster than they should sometimes.


My Shelfari Bookshelf

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog