[Originally written on this date in 2005]
Every year I make a vow to do something on my birthday that does not royally suck ass, since there were a number of years where I was the only one making an effort to celebrate. However, there have been many fond memories of Jon surprising me with things like tickets to the circus or a Broadway play. In fact, being much closer to my partner in crime has led to a general improvement to my mental health and overall quality of life. Though we still only see each other about once a week or so, I appreciate every second I even get to exist in the same space as someone who is so amazing. He is not perfect but I never expect him to be, and his flaws are all reasons that I love him for who he is instead of for something shallow.
After dragging ourselves out of bed early, doing laundry and dying my hair [black and red is such a hassle to keep up, but I dig it too much to get rid of it], we quickly dressed and rolled up to E-town. Since I got a lovely gift from my dad, I could not think of anything better to do than invest it in a new tattoo. It has been over a year since I last sat in the chair and watch the needle penetrate my skin to leave behind a brilliant work of art, so there was definitely a small bit of apprehension sitting in the pit of my stomach, mostly due to the fact I knew how much it was going to hurt. Granted there is always a level of awareness to being tattooed no matter the location on the body, but some places are more painful than others.
Jon gave me an encouraging hug and kiss on the forehead before we entered the shop, and I was surprized to see a few customers ahead of us, though did not mind the wait. Not only for the others to be finished, but Kevin had to draw up my banner from scratch using a few reference images and my detailed instruction. This just built up anticipation and adrenaline, which made me thankful to have Jon with me. My sweaty palm was grasped firmly in his tattooed hand, a smile on his face as though he was a proud father whose child was about to receive a prestigious award. Perhaps it was pride in the selection of images that I wanted to compose what would become one of my most prominent tattoos. In a way I was branding myself for eternity, but that was exactly why I was there to begin with.
Eventually I was called in, and the first part of my tattoo was transferred to my skin. Checking out the placement in the mirror and discussing it with Jon for a few minutes, we agreed it looked good and I finally sat down. When the machine started, nerves got the best of me – pain radiatied through my chest which far outweighed any I had felt from the previous two times I had been inked there. Jon nonchalantly clutched my hand for comfort and I was so happy to be going through the process with him by my side.
Once the outline of the banner was completed, he applied the stencil for the swallows and had me approve position once again. More pain followed, but it wasn’t as bad as when he had been outlining the banner. Shading then came into play, and I knew that the color wasn’t far behind. To be honest, I haven’t spent that much time under the needle before and it really takes stamina to be able to sit still when your skin feels like its on fire. The final stretch was the color itself, which is where Kevin’s talent really shines through. He has told me numerous times that he finds it easy to tattoo my skin, though why that is I’m not too sure. He was kind enough to finish the banner before doing any work on the birds, which made things that much easier.
Hours later and the process was finally complete, though I got a chance to see the finished product before it had to be covered up. Not only was I impressed with the way that it came out, but also proud of myself for having endured the hours of pain. In the end, after all is said and done, it is worth going through to have a piece of art I can wear on my skin for the rest of my life. Thanked him profusely [as I got a good deal on the price] and paid for my newly acquired ink.
We crossed the street to White Castle for some grease where Jon continued to smile and said that it looked good, even if I was sitting there with a chest full of meat pads. Laughing, I was so happy not only with how everything turned out, but also that I got to share the experience with my best friend. Once we were full, we stopped off at a liquor store to purchase a bottle of whiskey, returned home for a quick change and picked up the props I would be needing for my performance that evening.
A fellow performer I had met at the Coney Island Sideshow School had invited me to do a few acts at a basement show in New Brunswick, which I obviously said yes to since the date happened to coincide with my birthday. Mischief Brew, Witch Hunt and SOIP would be providing the tunes, while Johnny Pitstains and the Great Gozleone Circus with a special appearance by Electric Sideshow [that’s me] would be entertaining with appropriate sideshow antics. Though I was doing so with my new partner, Jon was an essential part of my birthday and escort for the evening.
Once in New Brunswick, we sat in the Chevy to have a smoke and in true form, Jon challenged me to a drag which may have lasted longer than I had wanted it to. Armed with whiskey and a few props, we made our way to the basement to rock out. Enjoyed three great sets while moshing around, though I had to be careful since I had a new and still slightly sore tattoo. The ‘bandaging’ had been ditched in the bathroom and I just slathered it with ointment right before the sideshow started. Everyone gathered in close for that and it was one absolutely ridiculous thing after another, which kept the crowd laughing, gasping and applauding.
We spent some time talking to my friend and some of the band members, then wandered outside to ravage one of the grease trucks. It was a long drive back to Jon’s house, and I had the daunting task of trying to figure out how in the hell I was going to sleep, seeing as how I was beginning to feel the pain of my new tattoo again. Thanks to smoking a joint, I passed out and didn’t have to worry about that.