My Recent Facination with Tattoos

I have a confession to make. On April 1, 2006, I jumped on the tattoo bandwagon and got my first tattoo. I had known for a while that I wanted to get one, but I had no idea what I wanted or where I wanted it. The fact that I don’t like needles didn’t exactly encourage me, either. (In 3rd grade, I cut the back of my head on the little chalk holder thing on the blackboard in Mrs. Phelps’ class. When my mom took me to the doctor, he asked me if I wanted a shot of pain-killer or ice cream–there was a Baskin Robins in the little strip mall next door–and of course, I chose the ice cream.) In 2005, the television world discovered the tattoo world was becoming popular and “Miami Ink” aired on the TLC network and A&E countered with “Inked”–both were stories about tattoo shops, how they were started, the artists, customers & their stories. Decent shows that made me want to get my own tattoo that much more.

As I watched these two shows and the desire grew, I started to research different designs. I’m not sure how much time I spent on it, but it was pretty decent. At one point, I was drawn to Celtic crosses. I really loved the way the crosses looked–very gothic and meaningful. The only problem was that I’m not a very religious person (raised Catholic, been through all of the sacraments through Confirmation, but haven’t been to mass since February 2004) and I just didn’t think that I should get such a religious symbol permanently etched into my body. So I kept researching. That led me to the claddagh. In case you don’t know, a claddagh is a traditional Irish symbol of two hands holding a heart with a crown on top, simply meaning “friendship, love and loyalty.” I thought it was perfect it was perfect for me and started to look for different claddagh designs until I found just the right now.

At the time, I was living in San Diego and planning a quick weekend trip to the Phoenix area for a job fair. On April 1, 2006, I drove over to Tempe and before stopping at my friend’s house in Chandler, I walked in to Club Tattoo on Apache Blvd, just down the street from ASU. Since I only had a limited window, they were able to squeeze me in that night. After a couple of hours of pain, I walked out with my first tattoo, just 2 weeks before my 30th birthday. I was eager to get this one out-of-the-way because for some reason, I wanted a tattoo for my 30th birthday. That much was important me for reason that maybe I’ll get in to later on, but not right now (gotta leave ‘em wanting more, right?).

Of course since then, I’ve been thinking about getting a second tattoo. I had a few ideas, but nothing that ever made me think “I must do this and I must do this now.” Until the fall of 2010. What happened in the fall of 2010? Well if you’ve read any of my earlier posts–or just know me on a personal level–you’ll know that the San Francisco Giants made a run to the World Series and won the title. I made the mistake (some would call it a mistake, probably) of telling several people that if the Giants won the World Series, I’d get a Giants tattoo. I mean, c’mon. At the time I was 34 years old, the Giants had been to the World Series only 2 other times in my life (’89 & ’02) and had been close to winning the whole thing just one of those years. Trust me when I tell you that the Giants winning the World Series was a big freaking deal. Well, the Giants won, so I HAD to get a Giants tattoo.

I took my time trying to figure out what I wanted to do for this one. I knew that I didn’t want a logo. Be it the simple “SF” on the Giants hat, the World Series Champions logo or whatever else–no logos for Mark. And then in the summer of 2011, it hit me: the Golden Gate Bridge to represent San Francisco, MMX for 2010 and the word “Torture”–a kind of slogan one of the Giants announcers gave the team to describe life as member of the Giants family and what we went through with so many close games that year. Again, I hit up Club Tattoo, made my appointment and got it done. Trust me when I tell you that the inside of your arm is a painful spot for a tattoo. The skin is so sensitive and raw there. Holy moly, that wasn’t fun. While the claddagh was a fairly traditional design with basic black & grey coloring, I wanted plenty of color in my Giants tattoo. That’s probably what I like most about my 2nd tattoo–the coloring. The reddish/orange of the Golden Gate Bridge really pops on my pale skin and I really do get a lot of compliments on the coloring it. Rick Godsey at Club Tattoo really did a great job and I look forward to going back to him for more.

Yup, I want more; definitely not done. Now, this time I do have a few ideas. I know I’d like to get a memorial to Pat Tillman, but I need to really figure out what I’d like to do with that. Again, no logos, though. I know that I want to get two portraits done: one of my Grandfather Ray; the other my Uncle Leo. Both were in the Army and I want to get their Army pictures done. My Grandfather fought in World War II in north Africa before heading into Italy where he marched up the entire length. When the war in Europe was over, he was on a transport ship to the Pacific when Japan surrendered. My Uncle Leo was an Air Combat Medic during Vietnam. He won a Bronze Star for his actions during the Tet Offensive and was killed on February 12, 1968 while saving other men’s lives. Both men are heroes in my book and I’d love nothing more than to be able to carry around their memory with me and to share their stories with others.

None of those will be next, though. My next tattoo is currently being designed by a very talented student I had in class one year. It’s a tribute to my home state and home city. So far, we have an outline of the state of California with a star down on the bottom left hand corner for San Diego. Filling in the outline will be the numbers “619”–the area code for San Diego. That part of the design is still up in the air–what style “font” will the numbers be in, how will they be placed, etc. I have my ideas, but I’m leaving it up the artist for now. I’d still like to leave some wiggle room for when the actual tattoo happens. If I go back to Rick at Club Tattoo, I want him to have some freedom to improvise. I’ll definitely give him some ideas for colors, additional designs, but as long as the basic design is intact, I’ll be OK. I have no idea when I’ll get this done, either. Tattoos aren’t cheap, especially when you want good work done. When it’s done, I’ll let you know.

What’s your tattoo story? Oh, and getting a tattoo done on April Fool’s Day is bound to make for a good story. Remind me to tell you about that some day!

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