I was 17. I thought I was 25. I thought I was a badass. My best friend and I and our best friend at the time, Jack Daniels, took a little road trip to Rapid City, from our hometown of Pierre. Tattoo time, because we were the epitome of cool. In our minds anyway. We were independent. We were wild and we were free. We grew up in a small town. We had big dreams and big attitudes. John Mellencamp rocking on the radio. Our favorite.
At that time nobody was getting tattoos. It was not like it is now. Now pretty much everyone has a tattoo. We were trailblazers. LOL. In high school it was not uncommon for us to day drive to Rapid City or Sioux Falls, spend the day shopping and then drive home. This time it was tattoo shopping.
We made the three hour trek to Rapid. At that time the speed limit was 55 miles per hour, so it took a while. We talked the whole way, as we always did. We were always together. Never apart. Best friends to the end and best friends with the tattoo gun and needle that day.
We found the tattoo shop and sat out in the car. A little liquid courage was in order. Nice to see you Jack, thanks for the shot. We each did a shot and got out of the car and walked up what seemed like 100 steps to the house. The tattoo shop was in a house. How weird. We wondered if we even had the right address.
We were walk-ins, no appointments necessary and apparently IDs either. We looked at the posters of tattoos hung up on the wall. We had to choose. What life had we lived yet that would help us decide what tattoo we wanted to get? What had I done that would help me choose? I hadn’t. I didn’t. We hadn’t lived any life yet, so we didn’t really know what kind of tattoo we wanted to get. Really, how could we? We finally decided. I picked out a rose with a heart and Mary got a shooting star. She was a shooting star. She was going places. She did go places.
The place was shady. We saw a gun in a drawer and it wasn’t a tattoo gun. The guys were kind of scary looking. My tattoo guy’s name was Mouse. Ummmm, okay. Seemed odd, but maybe because he was kind of small. He had long hair and ended up being really nice. It didn’t take that long. We were all done in less than a couple of hours. It wasn’t expensive either. We even left a tip.
We got back in the car and sat there for a few minutes before we took off back to Pierre. We really felt badass after that experience. On the way home we stopped in Wall and went to the gas station restroom. We took off the bandages and looked at the handiwork. Wow! Soooo cool. So bright and shiny. And then we started laughing and couldn’t stop. We decided we had zits that hurt worse than the tattoos. We picked up some fountain pop and Bazooka Bubble Gum and headed home.
Forever bonded. Forever friends. Forever firsts. And so began my obsession. I love the sound of the tattoo gun. Every time I hear it, I smile. Every time I hear it I relax. Every time I hear it I am taken back to that hot summer day and getting my first tattoo.