Dear the Man Who Tattooed Me:

Regarding the third tattoo that you have inked on me in the past five years, I have a few things to say. First, it hurt. The pain that I endured for this particular work of art was intense and incredible, much unlike the minor pain that I experienced during the inking of the first two tattoos. Thankfully, the whole ordeal was a relatively short process (a little over thirty minutes) and I was able to suck it up enough that nary a drop fell from my tightly clenched eyes. In the future, however, you may want to make it a point to your repeat patrons that getting a needle drilled into your skin approximately 1,000 times per second in the exact middle of your back is astronomically different from the sensation that accompanies doing it to your arm. There is (in this case) an enduring pain that begins with the deeply embedded outlines and only subsides when the final shading is drawing near. Just as a sort-of postscript, you may want to alert any customers seeking a tattoo in this particular area that when the needle makes the spine tingle a little, they may experience a sharp chill down their arms. Remind them that this feeling is completely normal and that they have nothing to worry about. Except, that is, for the pain they’ll feel for the remainder of the tattooing process.

Second, your tattoo after-care instructions were a bit confusing. They would have been easier to understand if your verbal directions, to apply only Vitamin E ointment (which, of course, you provided at the hefty charge of an extra ten bucks) after the tattoo is uncovered, did not directly conflict with the written directions that I signed, and you provided, at the end of the session. Maybe some customers don’t find this type of contradictory explanation of how to care for something they will have on their body for the remainder of the lives confusing, but I was a little lost. Or maybe some people just don’t care if their tattoos look more like bird droppings than their precious initials in a couple of years. Do you get a lot of that? Just to be on the safe side, I disguised my voice and called your shop a few hours later, pretending to be someone who had certainly never been tattooed before, begging for after-care information. What should I do after I first get a new tattoo? You repeated your verbal directions so I crossed my fingers, crumpled up the written ones, and tossed them into the trash. You might want to get those amended. It would save your patrons much confusion. Or maybe I should know by now how to properly care for my third tattoo. Should I be blaming myself here?

Finally, in reference to the particular design that you permanently etched upon my skin. I understand that the Chinese symbol I requested means “success” or “achievement.” Just to clarify, (as I know you may have been wondering) I haven’t really achieved much to qualify my placing this symbol between my two sentimentally valued initials, but I loved the design and I knew it was something I could live with for the rest of my life. Maybe it could be inspirational and I could find something rather grand to achieve. When I, in fact, do succeed at whatever this achievement may be, I will be sure to drop you a line and send you a picture of the finished artwork. I know you might want to frame it and hang it right above your little inking station.

Your work, as always, is incredibly impressive. Thanks again.

A conflicted, but nevertheless, pleased customer.
Scott Neumyer