So yesterday was my appointment with Joe Rose, my tattoo guy, for the touch-up work. I showed up at 1 p.m. as scheduled, but Joe had just run out to get something to eat. Cool. I decided to do the same. Unfortunately, this was in New Hope, tourist trap extraordinaire, where the restaurants have $24 chicken caesar salads on their menus. There are a couple of mexican places, but I worried that would take too long to eat. So, I headed to Villa Vito, an italian restaurant. When the maitre d' (Memo To File: Avoid pizza parlors with maitre d's) seemed disappointed that I wanted "two slices and an unsweetened iced tea," that should have been my first clue.
Two slices and an iced tea cost me $7. That's much more than I'm used to paying for two slices and an iced tea in New York City, but after all, that's only New York City, not New Hope, Pennsylvania. There's simply no comparison.
Since Villa Vito only had tables with tablecloths and cloth napikins (in a pizza parlor?) inside, I took my box of pizza and unsweetened iced tea and headed out to find a bench.
Worst pizza ever.
Totally the worst pizza I have ever had.
It was cold, and the cheese was rancid.
I managed to get a few bites down, then headed back to Lion's Den II (I say that "Lion's Den The Second"), Joe's place of business.
Joe laid out the plan. He'd do my arm today, and the next session work on my chest and back, and then finally do my leg in one or two sittings. As he explained, if he took on touching up my entire tattoo in one session, I'd leave slathered in vaseline and wrapped in Saran wrap, and that might not be a winning strategy.
For my viewing pleasure, Joe put on Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. I had never seen the movie. It came out not too long after Platoon, and Platoon rocked me for a long time afterwards, leaving me asking all sorts of questions about whether we are fundamentally violent and such.
While Joe re-did the lines on the chain snaking up my arm, I took in the boot camp sequences in the first part of the movie. It's absolutely brilliant. Kubrick should have stopped when he was ahead, not inflicting that tedious waste of time with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman on a world that already has way too much grinding boredom in their lives. Full Metal Jacket is amazing, although the performance of the Marine D.I. made me feel wildly inadequate as a SM roll play Top.
And Oh Man.
Somehow I had forgotten just how much it hurt having those tattoo needles searing into the most tender parts of my arm.
I remember Joe told me when he was doing the work that tattoo artists like to tell people with bands around their biceps that it's bad luck to complete the band. This is a lie. The real reason is that most people can't take the pain of getting tattooed on the tender flesh under the arm.
Which is where my chain goes. Twice. As well as my elbow and my wrist.
Ow. Ow. Ow.
But, I was mostly able to make it through the ordeal by distracting myself with Full Metal Jacket, clutching my shin with my free hand so hard I cut off circulation of the blood to my foot, and breathing deeply. And then there's that Zen thing, where you just notice the pain. Sort of sitting bac and taking it in seems to gum up the works of your adrenaline response that's telling you, "Yo! That hurts! Make that guy stop! Get the hell out of here! Do something!"
Just when I didn't think I could take any more, it was over. At least for now.
And I have to say that the result is pretty great. My tattoo looks even more amazing, with the thick black outlines darkened and emphasized. The effect is probably going to be temporary. I spend way too much time in the sun to have black ink stay black on me. Y'know how old polaroid photographs become discolored? Same deal. The sun degrades the red ink. The color black is made by combining blue, red, and green pigments. Once the red goes away, you're left with the blue and green.
So since I'm apparently entitled to a lifetime of touch-ups from Joe, I guess I can look forward to spending a few days every year in excruciating pain.
But in the circles I travel in, that's not so extraordinary.
As always, it was great spending time with Joe. Such a great guy. He told me that he's reading the Harry Potter books. In response to my, "You're kidding me..." he said that if you had told him a year ago that he would be tearing through them he would have laughed. But, the writing is good, the early ones just fly right by, and the books get darker and darker. Apparently, in Joe's reading, it's all leading up to a race war, a battle between full-bloods and half-mugs. And in the books, there's this "oppressive all-powerful government" theme that is de-emphasized in the movies.
So I'm totally crushed out on Joe after hearing that. Perilous path that might be.
Back when I was in college, I used to go with friends of mine to this "experimental film night," which we referred to as "Tuesday Night At The Movies." I saw Derek Jarman's Carravaggio there, the film noir classic Detour, and bunches of other great stuff. But I remember one Super 8 thing, this sort of montage of bleak images and disconnected bits of recorded dialog as a soundtrack. At one point in the soundtrack, a woman's voice said, "It's like falling in love with a straight woman."
Among me and my cool friends, that became quite the trope with us for a while.
"How was the Modern Drama final?"
"It was like falling in love with a straight woman."
Spending months repeating that phrase over and over again in varied contexts ("You're living off campus this year! How is that going?" "Are you all ready for graduation?" "Have you tried Tofutti? What do you think of it?") let it sink in a little bit, and I think I decided that if at all possible, I would avoid necessarily unrequited love.
But I sure could make an exception for Joe.
Anyway, much to do today. The Baron is taking the train up here to the Howling Wilderness, and we're going to spend the weekend together. Planned festivities include First Friday tonight in Doylestown, tooling around Bucks County tomorrow, and heading to NYC on Sunday so I can play softball and the Baron can be a lounge lizzard in some dingy boîte. Then on Monday, it's my father's birthhday, so there will be a cake to bake and a Special Birthday Dinner to prepare.
So it should be fun. Or, perhaps, it will be like falling in love with a straight woman.