To ink or not to ink

Walking in to the tattoo parlor on Pearl Street on Sunday at noon, a little after their reported hour of opening, could be viewed as a mistake. My parents would think it’s a mistake immediately… I may think it was a mistake 20 years from now when I can’t comfortably take off my shirt at a company barbeque.I walked in and knew that no matter how badly I wanted my new tattoo, and despite how long I’d spent thinking about it, I might be made to regret it someday. “I still like them as much as I did when I got them,” said junior Brian Porbansky, who, almost two years after getting his first tattoo, still doesn’t have any regret.I am not afraid of regretting my tattoos in any immediate sense; college life is very forgiving to piercing and tattoo choices. These things are celebrated, especially in Vermont’s community.I was concerned with how I would deal with my tattoos much later in life. Where will I be and how will I deal with my tattoos when I am well over the hill and my tattoos are faded and wrinkled?”I think when I’m 80 I’m going to have more important things to do, like worry about whether I can get my dick up or use the bathroom or something,” said tattoo enthusiast Jake Dimeo.”Even if I’m a Jesus freak and I have an upside down cross on my leg and the devil on the other and a Baphomet on my arm… whatever, screw it.” According to a recent attendent at the shop on Pearl Street, despite being located in a college town, they “deal with almost no drunks … because [they] close at eight.” He indicated a man who had just left (after havingbeen asked very politely) and who was particularly lively and explains, “That’s probably the most lit anybody’s ever been in here”.I did have some concern about the design of my tattoo. I had a vague idea of what I wanted and no artistic talent with which to manifest it. This meant relying on the artist’s judgment.A misspelled, misplaced or misconceptualized tattoo will almost certainly lead to regret, which is why most shops require the patron to both write out a description of what they want and then sign the sketch produced by the artist before it is tattooed.A tattoo artist I recently encountered had the words “Spell/Check” tattooed on his hands. When I asked him why, he said, “To remind myself and so people ask me about it and then I can tell them what a horrible speller I am. I always get someone to double-check me. I had a few misspellings in my early career. The patrons were not happy.”The process of fixing these and any other mistakes can range from easy to terribly inconvenient.So-called “cover-up” jobs, where new tattoos are drawn over older ones can be simple or really complex depending on the size of the initial tattoo and the colors involved. These can be expensive and often require an artist who specializes in cover-ups.I have been told time and time again that if I decide later in life that I don’t like my tattoos, that I can get them “lasered off.” Unfortunately, this is not quite the case.The lasering process is incredibly expensive and imperfect. As can be seen on http://www.bmezine.com’s laser surgery gallery, remnants of tattoos remain after the process for many individuals; I would rather don my tattoos in their full repulsive glory than as faded artifacts of my past.Getting my tattoo was considerably less painful than the potential pangs of regret. I guess I will just have to hope that I never get invited to a company picnic.