Friday, September 21, 2007

The Tattoo

On Saturday, I went for my tattoo. I spent a lot of time deciding exactly what to wear to have the most comfort and the least exposure as the tattoo placement was on my "lower back". I finally settled on something, and headed out to hit the wine bar, before my appointment. I had it carefully planned so that I would arrive at one of my favorite wine bars about 45 minutes before the appointment. The wine bar happens to be just around the corner from the tattoo shop.

When I arrived at the wine shop, it was closed! For a person who believes in "signs" this seemed like a potentially bad one, because I desperately needed some alcohol to calm my ever increasing case of nerves. For those of you who know me, you know that I am not afraid of too many things. The small list of things that I am afraid of include: snakes, satyrs (those men looking things with cloven hooves), stepping over water into a boat, and needles. Just to give you some indication of the depth of my fear of needles, .......I had my babies at home to avoid them. I tried to overcome this fear my giving blood for 2 years. I got a nice pin from the American Red Cross for being a 1 Gallon Donor, but my fear of needles remains.

I have one tattoo, which I got about 10 years ago in Miami, after drinking heavily. I planned to tackle this one in the same way. Even though the wine bar was closed, I decided it wasn’t really a bad sign, because wine is easily accessible in Florence, and I went to the next wine bar, 2 doors down.

I drank several glasses of wine and my appointment time, 3 o’clock rolled around. By now I was calm and tranquil and ready to go. When I got to the tattoo parlor, it was very crowded. There were people in the lobby looking through the pattern books, a woman in the back being tattooed, and some others making appointments and finishing transactions. I told them that I had an appointment and took a seat to wait.

In true Italian style, we didn’t get started on my tattoo until 3:45. I started doing Lamaze breathing at one point to avoid hyperventilating. Once I got back into the tattoo room, which was all glass, I begin to calm down again. I discussed the colors again with the artist, and although originally I had told them a purple outline with a dark yellow in the center, I changed it to a purple outline with a red center. I had wanted red from the beginning, but some concerns around "red die #5" crossed my mind. I decided to put those aside, as I saw many red tattoos being done in the shop.

The first step in getting a tattoo is to apply a stencil of the pattern. I had to lower my pants (more than I was really comfortable, but I got over it when the needles started) and he applied the stencil to the location I had indicated. The tattoo is located just above my waist on my spine, and extends towards my "lower back". The placement was perfect, and he told me to sit down on a backless stool and lean forward with my elbows on the arms of another chair. At this point, he asked his assistant to lower the shades in the all glass room, and I was thankful for that.
He started with the purple of the outline. This part hurt the most. Actually, it hurt like hell, especially the part right on my spine. There was music playing loudly and I tried to concentrate on that and continue the Lamaze breathing. Outwardly, I was the picture of courage! All the while he was working on the tattoo, his assistant was helping others pick out patterns, and coming back to consult with him on colors, appointments, and costs.

After he finished the outline, he asked me if I was in much pain, and I replied that I was fine. He said we would take a 5 minute break, which turned into 15, and I was okay with that.
When he came back, he started on the interior of the tattoo which was the red part. This part did not hurt much at all, which surprised me. I did not look at the tools that he was using (because they are needles!), but it seemed that the larger surfaces were easier and did not puncture as deep. I don’t know, maybe my body had created a natural anesthesia by then.
When he finished, he sprayed it with alcohol, and then rubbed some Vaseline over it, and covered it with a plastic bandage. He gave me instructions to leave the bandage on for 3-4 hours, wash wish plain soap and water, avoid sunlight, salt, and chlorine for 10 days, and apply Vaseline for 3-4 days 3 times per day.

I had intended to have them take some photos of the tattoo, but once he was finished I was so relieved, that all I wanted to do was get out and have some more wine! I paid for the tattoo, and went to one of my favorite restaurants for a celebratory meal. I had spaghetti con vongole, and grilled vegetables and a half liter of wine.

Afterwards, I headed to the market for a little grocery shopping, and then back home. Once I got back to the apartment (around 7:30 p.m.) An overwhelming exhaustion hit me and I laid down for a nap. To my amazement, I woke up briefly at 9:30 p.m., made a few phone calls, and back to bed for the night waking up only minutes ago at 9:00 a.m. Boy! Getting a new tattoo is exhausting!


Anonymous said...

Karen, you are a brave women, wish I had been there to hold your hand and help with the wine!!!

Anonymous said...

Your Florentine "Giglio" tatoo is fabulous.
Hai fatto bene !!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm studying abroad in Florence, Italy and looking to get a tattoo while I'm here. It is my first one. What is the name of the parlor where you got yours done? Did they speak english at all?