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Column: A permanent decision

Anyone who says getting a tattoo doesn’t hurt is either lying or experienced an altered state of consciousness while under the needle. I can personally attest to the pain of getting a tattoo because June 11, I actually got my first one.

I always wanted a tattoo. It’s something that gives a little window into a person’s personality. But what kind did I want, and where did I want it?

I didn’t wake up the morning of the 11th and say, “Ah, what a fine Tuesday to get a tattoo.” Actually, it stemmed from something more important, involving my boyfriend, Dewey, which is why I think I really made the right decision. About two months ago, Dewey’s father died. The 11th was Dewey’s dad’s birthday. To mark the day, his sister, Alana, and his mother, decided to get tattoos. Alana, knowing I’d said several times that I wanted a tattoo myself, decided this would be a great day to do it.

I agreed. After all, a tattoo is a rite of passage in many cultures, a ritual that signifies an important passing or event in one’s life. I was actually honored that they asked me along to participate in something I thought was so personal.

On the way to Ybor, there was a running bet with 3-to-1 odds that I would back out. I should have placed money on the bet; I could have made almost enough to pay for it. We went to the Blue Devil where Alana had already gotten a few tattoos done.

I stepped into the parlor and started looking through the books of designs and stared at the ones on the wall. After great deliberation, I finally chose the Sanskrit “om,” the Hindu symbol for the vibration of the cosmos. It is a meditative sound meant to focus one’s mind.

I joked to the artist that by getting this tattoo, I was showing true dedication to the religious studies department where I am working on my master’s degree.

Dewey’s mom went first. She got a little tattoo of a heart with wings on her left wrist. She winced several times but made it through. Once she stood up, it was my turn in the hot seat.

I watched my artist like a hawk as he cleaned the area, sterilized his equipment and prepped for my tattoo. The first time the needle hit, I breathed a sigh of relief. Ah, this was easy. But then the needle kept going. Even though my ankle isn’t a very sensitive spot, the needle going back and forth over the same places wasn’t very pleasant. But about 10 minutes later it was over. I got my first tattoo. Um, I mean only tattoo, Mom.

Alana went last, getting the Chinese symbol for “father” tattooed on her left foot. She said it hurt quite a bit, but not as badly as she thought it would.

What did Dewey get? A pristine body, free of ink. He isn’t into tattoos; he just went for the experience. He almost changed his mind, but I’m glad he didn’t. It wasn’t time for him that day, and it would have been out of character, and possibly regretful, had he done it.

Of course, now we’re all taking bets to see who gets the next one. Dewey, so far, has pledged $20 in my favor, a bet I may just take up … as soon as my mom gets over the shock of my first one.