Ink: A Write of Passage

Aug 252003
Authors: Shannon Baldwin

At least it often seems that way, especially when you get to

college. Maybe it’s because some students feel the need to rebel

against their strict upbringing and express their individuality.

Maybe it is because they have wanted to do it for a while but were

not allowed while still residing under their parents’ roofs.

College, aside from meaning a continued education, means freedom to

make choices like this while out from under the disapproving eye of

mom or dad. They don’t have to find out, do they?

The freedom of college can be intoxicating, and many students do

it just because they now can, or because everyone else is, or

because they haven’t really thought about the long-term

consequences. Some people wait till they have an emotional reason

and have found just the right one before taking that plunge. Of

course, many students choose not to do it at all, for their own


For those who do indulge, it is most important to be smart and

safe about it, or you could end up contracting a disease. However

much you may find yourself caught up in an impulsive moment, taking

that plunge without precautions is pure lunacy. Both of my tattoos

were done in a parlor -Snake’s Tattoos and Piercing- that has been

awarded multiple times for its sanitary conditions and


It took me until I was 25 before I decided to get my first

tattoo, and I am glad I waited so long. I have changed so much in

the last few years alone that I am not sure that a design I would

have chosen at 18 would fit me as well now. When I finally did take

the plunge I chose a symbol that represented a side of me that had

been with me all my life and I guessed would always be a part of

me. I thought it much better than the Av’s logo a friend of mine

wears on her hip -I love the Av’s as much as the next guy, but do I

really want a sports logo with me when I am 60?

For those of you considering getting your first, I am not going

to lie. Depending on where on your body you get it, the sucker

hurts like a…well…like your skin is being embroidered by a

sewing machine. After a while, you get a little numb from it and

actually feel light-headed from the adrenaline. You have to remind

yourself to breathe and imagine you are going through a tribal rite

of passage. You are defining yourself- making yourself unique

(unless you’re getting a rose on your ankle or something like


After a while (a really long while if your doing a large and

intricate design on your back) the buzzing stops and you’re looking

foggily at it as your artist patches a cotton bandage over it and

instructs you to keep it dry and lotioned until it peels and


And slowly it hits you. You have a tattoo. You got inked. And

after a few more hours, perhaps when you have gently cleaned the

blood off and gingerly rubbed some oil-free lotion on, it really

hits you. Holy cow, this sucker is never coming off (unless your

Angelina Jolie and can afford the laser surgery to remove Billy Bob

from your shoulder).

The night after getting my first was a little bit of a freak-out

for me. Dying my hair was one thing, but this…this thing on my

inner-leg…I did a lot of useless second-guessing about it, and I

will admit the reaction of my second family (my roommate’s mom and

dad) didn’t help. “Ummm, wow Shannon. It’s very…it’s bigger than

I thought it…ummm okay.” And then they gave me that

we-love-you-anyway smile that just made it that much worse.

But after a few days I got used to it and now I can’t imagine

not seeing it there, shining up at me. A part of me. And many of

you know that getting a tattoo is a little like opening a tin of

Pringles. “Once you pop, you can’t stop”.

I got my second one when I was 26 -on my lower back (oh, how

trendy of me) and something of my own design. This one didn’t hurt

nearly as bad and I like it even better than the first. My mom got

her first after her divorce and now she has four. My friend in the

Springs would add to her collection every two years if she could

afford it.

So if you decide that getting inked is right for you, just

remember to go to a clean place and get something that you won’t

mind having on your skin 30 years from now. If it’s right, it’ll be

worth the pain.

After all, it’s just a little prick.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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