If you can remember a date, that makes it important, right? On March 15, 1995, my dad and brother flew down to Sacramento after my dad got a call from his father. Two days later on March 17, my mom and I went out for Chinese food and came back to a blinking red light on the answering machine. December 31, 1999 must have been a bad day for me, because I remember shouting “BAD NEW YEAR” at my brother, to which he replied, “You RUINED my millennium!” On October 2, 2009, I saw a now-prominent NPR host drink way too much and make an ass of himself at a karaoke bar in Seattle’s International District.
I don’t remember the day or even the month, but that doesn’t make this memory any less vivid or meaningful. I think it was sometime around late November or early December…it was cold and wet, and I remember it being fairly dark out when it wasn’t particularly late. Regardless, I remember almost everything around me as John’s gloved hand held the buzzing tattoo gun against the inside of my left forearm.
Since that moment, every time I hear the beginning of Yellow Submarine by The Beatles, I remember what felt like flaming knives being dragged through my skin. It was my first tattoo, but I have been with friends as they go theirs.
“It doesn’t hurt! It kinda tickles, actually…”
And I believed them. Three thousand little pin-pricks every minute drew a noticeable amount of blood, yet they giggled. I expected the same—perhaps maybe something akin to a bee sting, but not nearly as much as I felt.
“In the tooooown, where I was booooorn, lived a maaaaan, who sailed the seeeeeaaaa…”
I gritted my teeth as I watched what would eventually become the left wingtip of a dove being etched into my skin one pinprick at a time. FLAMING KNIVES. Of course, mind over matter—and just like I grit my teeth and sit through my weekly massage therapy appointments to help me recover from a recent car accident, I sat in that sterilized chair for an hour and twenty minutes as an absolutely gorgeous black-and-white dove with an olive branch was skillfully created on my left forearm.
The dove serves as a reminder that I have never thrown a punch in my life, and I will die a happy man if I never have to. Whenever anyone asks if the dove has meaning, that’s what I tell them…but every time I look down at it, …
“In the tooooown, where I was booooorn…”