September 1st marked the very first item completed on the To Do List of The F in Forties! As a birthday gift, my husband got me a gift certificate to Sin Alley Tattoo on Benefit Street in Pawtucket, RI.
How did we choose that particular joint?
It seems as though everyone has a favorite artist - kind of like when you ask about a good real estate agent, everyone seems to know "the best." When it comes down to it, if they had a good comfortable experience and they like their tattoo, then it's not necessarily a bad reference. But when it comes to tattoos, you need to keep in mind that you have it there for the rest of your life - you can't just move out like in a real estate transaction.
Mike Johnston, an artist at Sin Alley Tattoo, specializes in realism. His attention to the fine details and his dedication to perfection are purely spectacular. After seeing a friend's fairy tattoo, I had my mind set that Mike was the one for the job. And boy...was I ever happy with my choice!
Did it hurt? Details, Girl!
I walked in those doors cool as a cucumber. After all, two of my friends (Marci & Amy) were meeting us there for moral support. Then I heard the buzzing of a tattoo needle, and I suddenly felt like I was getting on Space Mountain at Disney for my first time. "You can't wuss out now, Mama," my husband Andy challenged. Nope - I'm no quitter.
Mike looked at the design I had, we discussed how long it would take to make it exactly as is, made some modifications, and then it was time for the tracing table. About 10 minutes later, Mike pressed the design onto my back - just the outline to start for placement and design purposes. Once I approved, I laid down on the table and the rest is history.
The first couple of strokes hurt - kind of like a bee sting. But after 5 minutes, I felt mildly uncomfortable with little (if any) pain. Marci, Amy, & Andy watched for the first half hour, goofed on me, and then marched over to the local (and I mean "local") bar next door. I was kind of jealous!
So here's the scene: there's thrasher music playing, the sound of buzzing acted as background noise, and the lights were dim except for the overhead light used over Mike's "work area" (AKA my back). My legs started to sweat and stick to the table from nerves and my cell phone buzzed constantly with friends checking in on me. "What the hell is taking you so long?" My friends are so supportive!
The last half hour was painful. There...I said it. It hurt BAD! Because of the detail and amount of shading, it felt like I was just getting carved with a scalpel. Mike's very calming voice kept me from jumping from the table though. "Starting to hurt? Yeah...I'm sorry. Just a few more minutes...10 max," he reassured.
"It's really starting to smart," I tried to say without a whimper.
"Awww! My mom uses that word. 'Smart.'" Great. I just turned 40 the day before and already I'm sounding like 31 year old Mike's mom!
That made the next text from my friend Amy (sipping happily on a draft next door) even more ironic. "Jesus...what are you banging him or something?" I just hope poor Mike couldn't read that one over my shoulder. Eek - nightmares.
I love it. I went to Ireland and found a design I could live with for the rest of my life - 2 Celtic Birds in a Heart. Mike did an unbelievable job modifying the details ever so slightly to cut down on time and cost. My mom said I'd regret it, but so far...I just plain love it. As a matter of fact, I might just get another one. Thanks for making it such a good experience, Mike!
And to my "partners in crime" - I can't believe you didn't save me a Guinness!!!