Tattoo U

Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am not the most adventurous person in the world. Growing up, I wasn’t one to find his way to the hot weekend party or go out to buy the latest fashion trend in an attempt to fit in. I did, however, have a pair of the original Air Jordans when I was in high school, which has nothing to do with this article.

Time to Rebel

Brandee Gordon of Native Ink Tattoo.

Brandee Gordon of Native Ink Tattoo.

In my mid-forties, I began to take inventory of my life. Yep, still the same boring, buttoned-up guy that I was in high school. Go to work, stay out of trouble, and do what is expected of me. I started to get a thought in my head. Why should I continue to feed this preconceived notion that people had of me? What could I do that would be outside the box? Something that no one would expect … something bad … a tattoo.

Growing up, I don’t remember seeing many tattoos on anyone. Maybe an old military man every now and then had some faded, green ink blot on his forearm that used to be a ship or Navy logo. Every so often you might see one on an average Joe, but NEVER on a woman. My how times have changed. According to a 2012 Harris Poll, women are now slightly more likely than men  to have a tattoo (now 23% versus 19%).

Numbers Don’t Lie

The Harris Poll also reveals currently one in five U.S. adults has at least one tattoo. Adults aged 30-39 are most likely to have a tattoo (38%) compared to both those younger (30% of those 25-29 and 22% of those 18-24) and older (27% of those 40-49, 11% of those 50-64 and just 5% of those 65 and older).

I was ready to join these people in getting “inked” up, but where to start? I wanted someone reputable, not some back-ally shop where you had to worry about cleanliness and quality. I am a big Indiana Pacers fan. I noticed that most if not all of the players had tattoos. Indiana’s star player, Paul George, was among them. I knew these guys weren’t going to put their health and multi-million-dollar careers on the line by getting a shady tattoo. I wanted to go where Paul George went. Well, after doing some research, I found out that he was a client of Brandee Gordon of Native Ink Tattoo.

Unexpected Advice

My first tattoo .. my high school mascot, a cougar peering through mist.

My first tattoo .. my high school mascot, a cougar peering through mist.

I had never met Brandee before. I set up a time to pay a visit to her shop and speak with her about my idea for a tattoo. I am a very loyal person, thus I wanted to pay homage to my high school, which has a cougar for a mascot. I wanted something of sentimental value, not some barbed wire or something like that. When I made it up to her shop, she was working on someone. I waited patiently to talk with her. Eventually, she took a break from her work, when I noticed Lance Stephenson, formerly of the Pacers, in her chair. I asked Lance about getting a tattoo. He jokingly told me it felt like he was being stabbed with knives. Even so, I was ready to shed my boring image. I made my appointment to bring out my inner rebel … I was actually going to do this tattoo thing. I hoped I wouldn’t regret it.

Regret is not common, according to the 2012 Harris Poll. Among those with a tattoo, most have never regretted getting a tattoo (86%) and three in ten say it makes them feel more sexy (30%).  One-quarter say having a tattoo makes them feel rebellious (25%),


This is Crazy,This is Crazy, This is Crazy

The day for my appointment finally arrived and I was ready to get it over with. I am not a fan of needles, thus I wasn’t really sure why I was doing this. Nonetheless, I made it to the shop and into the chair where Brandee would work her magic. I originally thought I would be the only person with a tattoo of a “period” on my arm after I made her stop because the pain was unbearable. Well, after getting over the initial discomfort, I decided it wasn’t too bad and, hell, yeah, I could do this damn it! I am a new-found rebel after all.

My second tattoo, this one for my Grandfather who I grew up fishing with all the time. The words are from a Train song,

My second tattoo, this one for my Grandfather who I grew up fishing with all the time. The words are from a Train song, “When I Look to the Sky.”

After the buzzing stopped and Brandee said I was done and could look at my newly-created art on my upper arm, I couldn’t believe how much I liked it. I liked it so much that I have been back to see Brandee two more times since then.

The second tattoo she gave me is a silhouette of my Grandfather fishing. I was very close with my Grandfather, who was a huge influence on me growing up, spending so much time fishing with me. Along with the Silhouette are the words from the rock band Train’s song, “When I Look to the Sky,: which say, “When I look to the sky, something tells me you’re here with me.”

My latest trip to see Brandee has resulted in a tattoo featuring a rose on a wooden cross with a lady bug on the rose. This tattoo has sentimental value for my Grandmother and my wife’s Grandmother. This tattoo seemed to hurt the most when I got it. Not sure why. Maybe I am getting soft in my old age. Not sure that is possible now that I am a bad ass with three tattoos.

My latest tattoo, one for my Grandmother.

My latest tattoo, one for my Grandmother.

Will Be Coolest in Nursing Home

It has been at least a year since I have sat in Brandee’s chair. I never used to understand how people could have so many tattoos. Were they crazy? Well, now I understand. It is somewhat addicting to see the new art on your body, something special and meaningful to you. My wife has often asked me how I am going to look when I am in a nursing home later in life. My response is simple. I tell her that no matter how wrinkled my skin is, etc., I will be able to look down at my arms and remember when my tattoos were done and what they meant to me. I will always have the memory of getting them and what they signify. I will never regret that.

-Photos courtesy of Brandee Gordon

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