The first tattoo, Part II, 2000

Seven years had passed since my first tattoo. The same friend mentioned in Part I had now been talking about getting a tattoo - in fact she had been talking about it for almost five years. When she came to the tattoo parlor with me to get my fifth tattoo (the caduceus medical symbol) she finally came to a conclusion about what she wanted: the same tattoo on my shoulder.

I decided it was time to have my own tattoo redone. After four years living on the beach in Florida, my tattoo had become extremely faded. The red lines were worn, the blue moon was nowhere near as intense, and the once-brilliant white/gray outline had become dull and blurred.

We made an appointment about two weeks after my calf tattoo. She brought in a basic outline and Darren immediately went to work. Darren suggested some shading and a bit of a different color scheme. The moon was outlined in light blue and the inside had a lot of shading. He even added some purple highlights. He also added yellow highlights to the orange sun.

She decided to get the tattoo on her ankle, and Darren convinced her the outside was better than the inside ("So you can show it off!"). I took her back to Darren because it was her first tattoo, and I knew he would treat her well. She weathered it extremely well! A few grimaces now and then, but she made it all the way through. Darren worked fast - after half an hour the tattoo was complete.

We had some trouble with my tattoo. Darren was very surprised at the amount of fading and briefly chastised my original artist. It's difficult to color over an existing tattoo, so he couldn't really match my friend's coloring exactly. We settled on redoing the red outline, covering the gray outline with purple, and adding a small amount of highlighting.

People describe the feeling of getting a tattoo in different ways. When Darren described the feeling to my friend as being cut with a razor blade I scoffed; I generally liken the feeling to having sandpaper rubbed against the skin. But when Darren started tattooing this time, it felt like a razor blade; not the familiar sandpaper. I soon found out why. When he lifted the needle he said, "That red outline isn't going anywhere for years!" He had gone extra deep on the outline this time. The rest of the tattoo was much less painful - back to the light touch I was used to.

He left the original orange and blue intact. He added some highlights here and there. I don't have a close up picture of the old tattoo, but here's how the redo turned out. The scan doesn't do it justice - Darren really did a beautiful job.

Seven years had passed since that fateful day at a bar in New York when we had made the original pact. Me and this good friend now have the same tattoo. She commented after the session that now we could never stop being friends. My comment was that after more than fifteen years of friendship, there was no way we were ever going to lose touch. Tattoo or no tattoo, we were in it for life.

The original jacket is still around, too. She didn't want it anymore but felt bad throwing it away, so I still have it in my closet. I don't think I will ever wear it (unless "MCs" come back into style), but it is a nice reminder of how our tattoos were conceived.

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