Aprill in Tattoo-land

Aug. 4, 2010 at 3:04 a.m.

Is there anything I won't do for a story?

Well, yes, actually. But luckily, I don't think my editors would ever require me to swallow a live goldfish. A dead one, maybe. But never a live one.

Other than that, however, there is surprisingly little I'm not willing to attempt. So when the powers-that-be decided that we were going to do a special tattoo issue for the M3, all eyes were on me to be the assigned reporter to actually get a tattoo and then write about it. It went something like this:

Editors: "Hey, we should do a tattoo issue of the M3."

Me: "Oh, oh, oh! Can I get one and write about it!? Please? It'd be so AWESOME! PLEASE!?!"

Editors: "Um...OK."

And here we are.

Now I'd been thinking of getting a tattoo for quite awhile. (Well, technically a "second" tattoo. But considering I got the first when I was 22 and it probably has a good shot at getting into the Guinness Book of World Records for Smallest Tattoo Ever, this would be my first "real" tattoo). So I already had an inkling (pun COMPLETELY intended) of what I wanted to get.

Much serious deliberating (and many happy hour drinks) later, I settled on getting the word "muchness" on my wrist. According to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (look at me, doing research and junk) the definition of muchness is the quality or state of being great. But the reason why this word resonated so deeply with me was a quote in the recent "Alice in Wonderland" movie. In one of the scenes, the Mad Hatter tells Alice:

"You used to be much...muchier. You've lost your muchness."

Now, I've never been accused of losing my muchness (if anything, I'm accused of being too much) but I wanted a permanent reminder to always stay true to myself.

So, armed with my concept, I headed down to In The Skin Tattoo & Piercing where tattoo artist Gayle "Tatatouille" Austin was waiting with needle in hand and a maniacal laughter erupting from her throat (OK, technically that last bit is what we in the media call an outright lie...it was more like a demonic laugh).

Now in the interest of real, hard-hitting, investigative journalism, I must admit that if I deeply examine what I was feeling right before that needle went into my skin, it was pretty much a "pee in your pants and start sucking your thumb" level of scaredy-catness. Luckily, Gayle, demonic laugh aside, is a true professional and one of the friendliest people on the planet, thus bringing my anxiety to a more appropriate "just broke Mom's favorite vase" level. And I knew I had to ink or wim (Ha! See what I did there?).

And now comes the part where everyone wants to know "did it hurt?" To which let me respond "Are you freaking nuts? Of course it hurt!"

Now did it hurt as bad as childbirth? I don't know. I've never had a child (much to the relief of Child Protective Services, I'm sure). But if childbirth feels like a needle repeatedly going in and out of your skin at a rapid pace, then yes, it hurt as bad as childbirth.

But I got through it, thanks in big part to the ever-calm Gayle, who distracted me with good conversation and told me "Yeah, it hurts. But it makes you feel alive, doesn't it?"

It does. Better yet, once it's over, a sense of euphoria washed over me, especially once I saw that the tattoo turned out beautifully. It was exactly what I was picturing.

Granted, I do have some fears that once my skin starts to wrinkle, I may get a lot of questions such as "Grandma, why do you have the word 'munchies' on your wrist?" but I take solace in the fact that at least I'll always know what it means.

And that's pretty much the point of a tattoo. We get them not for the sake of others, but strictly for ourselves. Already I've gotten some weird looks and people asking me "Muchness? Really?" with the same tone of voice they'd ask the question "You stabbed yourself in the forehead with a big knife on purpose? Really?"

But that's OK. The muchness in me can take it.



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