“I’m here! I’m here!”
I ran through the front door of the tattoo parlor panting and sweaty. I’d gotten stuck late at work, drove across L.A. during rush hour and poked an old lady in the eye to get the last remaining parking spot in all of Hollywood.
“You can sit in that chair there,” the tattooist said.
My friend – we’ll call her Jennie because that’s her name – was lying in front of her in a paper doctor’s office gown and yoga pants. Jennie was three hours into a four-hour, full-back tattoo, and I was moral support.
It’s possible I was not the best choice, but there are certain things you just can’t be expected to know about yourself ahead of time. For example, did you know there’s such a thing as sympathy nausea? Yeah, me neither.
If you’re one of those people who really aren’t into pain, you should probably skip getting a tattoo on your spine. For four hours. A normal person in that situation would have gone ahead and died and gotten it over with. Jennie was just grimacing and sweating and humming to herself while clutching a stuffed frog. (Medal for bravery right there.)
I was sitting a foot away trying to be chipper and loving and oh-my-god-don’t-look-at-the-needle-piercing-her-skin-100-times-a-second, which was translating into the sort of nervous, nonstop, question-based monologuing you might expect from a three-year-old. Let us just say that the tattoo artist was a goddamn saint.
“Where are you from? I’m from Kansas City. Did you take the bus? I only take the bus in San Francisco. Have you ever taken the bus in San Francisco? Weird people try to touch you there. What kind of shoes are those? I wear shoes. Is your arm tired? My arm isn’t tired.”
OH MY GOD, SHUT THE FUCK UP, you might say. Except if I stopped talking, it was entirely possible I would have thrown up instead because watching Jennie’s face was making me hurt, which was confusing my nervous system, which had decided nausea was the most obvious course of action.
Awesome. You don’t think it would distract the tattooist if I just threw up on myself, do you?
You’ll be happy to know all of us made it through the experience without being covered in puke. The tattoo was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. And afterward, we went out for tequila. I needed it.