Yes, I did feel the drilling of the black ink into my arm, but the psychological effect of that buzzing sound is more unsettling than the physical sensation. In fact, having gone through the tattoo process twice now, I secretly enjoy how it feels, which took me by surprise because this time I didn't have two friends to hold my hands. (My pal Devarni, who is visiting from Melbourne, split the scene to spend some quality time poolside, leaving me to fend for myself.)
Getting tattooed the second time around was certainly less uncomfortable than having your body waxed. During the 30-minute inking process, I started to get how people become addicted to it. In September, I met a guy in his late 50s in Pattaya whose body is covered with tattoos. He said he didn't get his first one until about 10 years ago, and now only his face is tattoo-free. (His boyfriend, who apparently caught the tattoo bug, had permanent eyeliner installed while they were in Pattaya!) Despite my newfound understanding of tattoo addicts, that will never be me.
I can't believe it took me two and a half years to follow up my first one, a bull on my right bicep representing my astrological sign. I didn't come up with the idea of getting my name in Thai on my left forearm until a few weeks ago when I noticed how cool Hugh Jackman's name looked in Thai on the movie poster for Real Steel.
I just need to come up with something else that's just as personal as my name and my star sign. I don't want any generic designs or someone else's name printed on my body for eternity. The guy who did my body art at Jimmy Wong Tattoo Bangkok on the 7th floor of the MBK shopping center asked if it was my girlfriend's name. I looked at him as if to say, "Girlfriend?!" Then I told him that I'd never get anyone else's name etched into my body. Have we learned nothing from Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie? At least Melanie Griffith is still married to Antonio Banderas.
Shortly after I left Jimmy Wong, I went to pick up a DVD from a store in MBK, and the guy behind the counter asked to see my tattoo, which was covered by plastic. "Jeremy," he said when I revealed it to him. I was relieved. As my friend Erin pointed out later, you don't want someone playing a terrible joke and tattooing "hamburger" onto your arm!
I'm now officially accepting ideas for tattoo No. 3. What should I get and where should I put it?