Gretchen's first tattoo
Friday, June 15 2007
Gretchen first wanted to get a tattoo back when she was fifteen. That time her parents strongly cautioned her not to, telling her she didn't want to ruin her chances for getting certain jobs and whatever else tattoos render people ineligible for. That was back in the mid-80s, when tattoos were still rare enough that they rendered those having them outsiders. Now, of course, even the Bush twins sport tattoos (one assumes), so such reasoning has lost its utility. Still, in all these years Gretchen has had difficulty settling on a design she'd actually want to wear for the rest of her skin-having days.
The issue came to a head a couple months ago when Gretchen spent an afternoon with Barbara, her erstwhile companion of five years, while Barbara was visiting New York City from her home in Pittsburgh. Barbara has been steadily accumulating tattoos over the years and wanted to get another, and they thought it might be fun, perhaps as a ceremonial ending of a multi-year estrangement, to get tattoos together. In the end, though, they hadn't been impressed by the tattoo parlor they'd visited and hadn't gone under the needle. But Gretchen had finally come up with an idea for a tattoo.
She'd been inspired by the death of Kurt Vonnegut and wanted to get a fragment of one of his quotes permanently printed on her right bicep. Vonnegut had gone through life with comic grimness, perhaps best encapsulated by his line, "I'm whistling as I walk past the graveyard...and I'm whistling as beautifully as I can." Gretchen wanted the phrase "...and I'm whistling as beautifully as I can" in a spiral tattoo, and she'd drawn her first draft of the design by hand. Yesterday, while visiting Penny and David, she'd had Penny (a graphic designer) refine her design in Adobe Illustrator using the Century Schoolbook font.
Today Gretchen took the plunge into the world of the tattooed at Pat's Tats, a tattoo parlor across from the Harley Davidson dealership on Route 28 (between Kingston and Woodstock). She came back with a bandage on her arm and an unexpected feeling of elation, one she could easily imagine getting addicted to.
A volunteer dandylionesque flower growing from some moss I collected last year in the Adirondacks (with an actual dandylion).
Gretchen's arm before being tattooed.
Her new tattoo.
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