“We Rough Tattooin’ Up in Here” or The Time I Got a Tattoo in an Apartment in Queens

21 Feb

Tuesday I went to work. That’s what you do on a Tuesday: You go to work, and you sharpen some pencils and point at some graphs (or whatever your boss pays you to do–mine likes me to rhapsodize at length about hammers), and then you go home and make some sort of chicken casserole. Maybe you work out, if you’re some kind of fancy boy fitness buff. If there’s something on HBO, you watch it. That’s a Tuesday.

But apparently I’m bad at Tuesdays, or, at least, maturity, because after I went to work on Tuesday I got a text from Gay Meow Meow (whose real name is Linda, which I guess I can just go ahead and say now that our embarrassing exploits are outside the statute of limitations for Crimes Against Maturity) that said, “hey, maybe we should meet up at this apartment in a part of town you have literally only visited once, 8 years ago, and let some guy you’ve never met stab you with a needle until you have permanent marks on your body.” And I said, “Ok, sure.”

In Queens, they have these addresses with hyphens in them that are Google Maps kryptonite, so after getting off the subway I wander alone among a block or two of warehouses wondering if this particular Tuesday is the Tuesday I finally get my Mugged in NYC card. Then I realize I’m in the wrong section of Astoria, so I walk 10 blocks in the snow to an enormous apartment-manor building. Linda is there, and she waves in the direction of the array of doorbells to indicate that no one is home.

The person I hope will have steady enough hands not to draw wiggly lines all over my abdomen shows up 10 minutes later, holding an enormous basket of laundry, as if that’s a normal thing to be carrying around the streets of New York City in a snowstorm. “He’s kind of crazy, but it’s awesome,” says Linda, as he almost drops his uncovered load of …socks? while waving hello, then gets stuck in the gate and curses.

We enter the apartment, which contains a very friendly cat, lots of scented candles, and dozens of large painted canvases. We all sit in the kitchen and the tattoo artist, whom I will nickname Rolex on account of a story he told about making so much money as a teenage model that he once threw a perfectly good $3,000 watch over the side of a boat, begins asking the appropriate questions about what we want and where we want it. It turns out he’s a former bartending colleague of Linda’s who now works at one of the top tattoo parlors in Manhattan. He’s booked solid for the next month.

The Party Monster shows up in a wide-brim fedora and a layered wrap coat that makes him look like some sort of sexy gay wizard, because that’s how the Party Monster dresses. He points to one of the paintings on the wall, which appears to depict Albert Einstein in a ghetto letterman’s jacket. “Awesome Einstein painting, man,” he says.

“Dude, that’s my grandma,” says Rolex, who is rather large and brandishing a needle gun, and the Party Monster impressively backpedals, citing the similarity of hair and his poor eyesight. “I just, yeah, you know, those ads, with um… the hair…” He trails off.

The Party Monster goes first, getting a quote tattooed across his thigh. He displays impressive stoicism. Rolex makes an impressive number of jokes about being very close to the Party Monster’s impressive junk. Then it’s my turn. I’m getting a star on my ribs, for reasons I will explain momentarily, and Rolex says, “So… I can set up this bench so you can lie down, or you can just lean over the side of this chair here. I’ll be quick.” I look at the chair. “Is that okay? Will it turn out weird?”

Rolex looks at me like I’m a crazy person. “I’m gonna put on a stencil first,” he says.

“Oh, sorry, yeah, I’ll just lean over the chair.”

“Great. We rough tattooin’ up in here!” he says, waving the gun with more excitement than I would maybe like.

So I lean over a chair with my shirt pulled up to my bra, and grit my teeth for 10 minutes while Rolex scrapes my ribs. I only have one other tattoo, but I can confirm that any tattoo on your ribs larger than a half dollar should only be considered by people with brass testicles.

Looks nice though, right? Also, I MAY have taken this photo at work.

Looks nice though, right? Also, I MAY have taken this photo at work.

Linda goes last, and complains so much about how much it hurts that Rolex, sadistically, starts counting every single line he’s making. Hers also turns out great. Then we go to dinner in a 24-hour pan-Asian restaurant with lots of mirrors and vases of eucalyptus branches.

Queens is weird.

EDITED TO ADD: Rolex insists that the watch in question was, in fact, a Breitling. Thank you, Rolex, for your continued contributions to this blog.


Ok, so in explanation for the star, and in fact, for this entire escapade, I have to be temporarily serious. Apologies in advance.

My longtime blog readers will remember my best friend the Bad Idea Bear (Jenna) who was the light of my god damned life. We moved to NYC together and worked together and lived together. She was the closest thing to a sister I’ve ever had. She unfortunately passed away two years ago in what was the single worst summer of my life. I lost an entire month to grief.

The Bad Idea Bear had 5 stars tattooed on her shoulder, one for herself and one for each of her closest friends: Me, Linda, The Party Monster, and a chick named Marne who lives in San Diego and has not appeared much on this blog on account of distance. So when Jenna died, we all made a promise to get tattoos for her. Two years later, we did it the way the Bad Idea Bear would have wanted– with a vaguely dangerous-looking former model in an apartment in Queens.

One Crew. One Love.

One Crew. One Love.


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