pickngrin17 47M
2 posts
5/17/2006 1:05 am

There was a spring in my step this morning, and when I sauntered into the office of my favorite department manager here at work–a smile splayed wide across my face from ear to ear–she regarded my entrance with a sort of bemused detachment. Glancing over her sheaf of papers, she adjusted her glasses, studied my face, and said, “Oh God, what you have you gone and done to your poor body this time?”

Why is it that the people in my life are beginning to equate my happiness with pain? Now, it is true that in the past few weeks I have gotten both nipples pierced, a complete Brazilian wax, and a new tattoo that covers a good chunk of the center of my back, but I’d been planning on having all this stuff done for years. It just so happened that I got it all done in a two week period, that’s all.

So I showed her the tattoo, and after she ooh’ed and aah’ed, she asked me how long it took. “Five hours,” I said.

“Five hours!” she responded. “You really do like pain, don’t you?”

The funny thing is, the answer to that question is a resounding “No, I don’t like pain!”–I mean, I don’t like biting my tongue, stubbing my toe, or having to watch someone else’s children for longer than forty-five seconds.

Or at least the answer is a hearty “No”–smacking my thumb with a hammer, getting a splinter from a rough wooden fence, and being forced to spend “quality time” with a girl I am desperately trying to break up with all suck.

But maybe, if I really consider it, maybe I do like pain a little. Just a little–like a bite on the nape of the neck during sex, or crashing into a tackle during an over-zealous game of touch football, or the “hurts so good” stretch I get in my morning yoga practice. That’s all good pain.

And sometimes I even like a lot of pain all at once, if it’s over quick–like when I got my nipples pierced, for instance, or the first time a girl shoved a pinky finger up my butt. So I guess, yeah, I might be into pain a little bit, but like a good American, I’m mostly in denial about it. I’m certainly no masochist, and I don’t get off on being beaten into submission, but the pain involved in body art I have come to associate with the good type of pain–I’ve gotten to the place where I actually kind of like it. And I must confess, I feel that I’ve rather earned it, this fascination with and appreciation for decorating my body. I mean, I live a pretty balanced and healthy life these days–no drugs, no booze, I’m a vegetarian, I go to bed at ten pm and get up with the sun to do yoga. Body modification is like the final frontier for me. (Well, that and my sex life, but more on that topic some other day…

Human beings have been poking holes and carving designs into one another since long before recorded history, and there is definitely something primitive, tribal and timeless about body art and jewelry. It’s dense–magnetic–and I feel the pull. Even as a child I admired tattoos from afar, and after puberty I fairly salivated at the thought of covering my body in ink. Thank God I waited until I was in my mid-twenties before getting my first design, because as a teenager I wanted to look like Motley Crue, and let’s face it, folks–I think the world has seen just about enough skulls and roses on skin.

My first piece of ink was done in 1996 at a place called Jinxproof on M Street in Washington, DC. I was a college student at the time, a sophomore at Georgetown University studying international history. I had taken a bunch of courses that touched on early Meso-American history, and I was fascinated by what I’d read about the Aztec culture. Tragically, most college-level history books don’t come with pictures, so halfway through my beautiful “Aztec” design on my lower back I heard one of the other tattoo artists in the shop call out to the guy doing my design, “Hey–those Norwest Pacific American Indian pieces take a lot longer than you’d think, huh?”

I was like Maverick in Topgun, thinking, “Eject, Goose, eject!” but I was stuck with it. That was the first and last time I walked into a tattoo shop and picked a piece of flash of the wall to have stenciled on my body. Nonetheless, even though it wasn’t quite what I thought it was, it wasn’t far off in spirit, and I came to love it. In fact, the back piece that I began yesterday is to be done entirely in Northwest Pacific-style art.

My second tattoo was a wedding band, a Celtic knot around my wrist drawn by my brother. I and the woman I married (after a long courtship of almost two months) wanted something more permanent than rings, which after all can simply be taken off. So we got these bands tattooed across our wrists, and the punch line came when the marriage didn’t even outlast the courtship. This was my second lesson involving a tattoo–permanence rarely means what you think it means at first.

At this point I was thirty years old and had two tattoos, neither of which represented what I thought they were going to represent, but both of which I liked. Oh yeah–I also had my tongue pierced, even before I got my first tattoo. I got it done my freshman year at Georgetown, in 1995, and I did it because I thought it would be good for sex, plain and simple. Better kissing, fun to use when going down on a girl–that was my thinking at the time, and it proved correct. More than a decade later I still have it, and I still have fun using it. 

Almost five years passed between my wedding band and the piece I began last night, and in the interim I gave a lot of thought to my next design. Ideas came and (thankfully) went–I recall one misguided assumption back when I first started doing yoga on a daily basis that it would be really cool to mimic the “Intel Inside” design with an outer space visitor seated in lotus with the cosmic mudra and the caption “Alien Inside” done on my solar plexus. I’m still grateful to this day that I let that one pass.

Then one day a friend drew some mythical cats in the Northwest style for me–not as a tattoo design, just a piece of art she wanted to give me. That’s when I got my big idea, and it has stuck with me ever since. I’d been practicing yoga on a daily basis for several years at this point, and what I really wanted to do was to take her cats and make them the center piece of a design that would eventually cover my whole back. My idea was to have an artist draw a series of eight totem animals in the Pacific Northwest style, doing the yoga poses that had been named for them. For instance, the dog doing a stylized “downward-facing dog,” the eagle in garudasana, etc. Well, I found an artist in Nashville, and old friend of mine who is an amazing painter, and she has agreed to draw and ink the totem animals that will surround my centerpiece like clock points.

I got a local tattoo artist for whom I have much respect to work up the cat drawing my other friend did several years back. He actually wound up completely redrawing the piece, and it came out fucking amazingĀ¬–just check out the photos that accompany this post. Two weeks before we started work, his wife pierced both of my nipples (I’m attaching photos of those, too, and what the heck, of my new Brazilian wax as well–might as well get the whole show!), and I could write a book about that experience alone. I have never before in my life felt the intensity of exhilaration that I felt during the nipple piercing experience, and if she hadn’t been married to my tattoo artist I’d have asked her to strip down and straddle my cock before piercing the second one–it was that hot of an experience, and I probably would have exploded inside her the moment the needle went through my nipple. I am eventually going to let her do the series of phrenum piercings known as a “Jacob’s Ladder” (I plan to do four, two at a sitting), and the thought of one of her hands around my erect dick and the other one holding a piercing needle makes it difficult for me to concentrate on finishing today’s entry.

Something about steel and ink is addictive–as addictive as any drug–and I am just grateful that I’ve been able to take it slow over the years. I’m 35 years old now, and I have three piercings (two nipples and a tongue) and three tattoos (left wrist, center back, and lower back–which the teenage twins of a friend of mine refer to as a “tramp stamp” when girls get it tattooed). I plan to add totem animals around the centerpiece on my back at the rate on one every couple of months or so, so that should keep me busy for a year or two. After that I want to say that I’m done, but after a couple years pass, I know I’ll get a bug up my butt to get another one done. That’s just the way it goes with these things. As for the penis piercings, well, I like pain as much as the next guy, but those may have to wait a while. After all it’s spring, and genital piercings take months to heal…

P.S. If anyone reading this (if anyone is actually reading this) is into ink & steel the way I’m into ink & steel, drop me a line and let’s chat. We can trade stories and photos, and I’ve got some rated far beyond what you could see in most movie theaters these days…

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