Foot Snake

So like a few of my stories this one is from “back in the day”. This particular one takes place waaaay back in the day. Before the day of tattoo appointments with deposits and phone numbers and all that good kind of stuff.

Our story begins with a nice enough lady who came in to talk to me about a tattoo on her foot. She came in and asked a lot of general questions and then came back a few days later. When she returned she had a stack of post-it notes and a Peterson Field Guide.

She wanted a small coral snake on her foot. She had marked the field guide with the particular colors of the snake that she wanted. She had post-it notes with bunches of different shapes of the snake and the position with the head end indicated on the notes. She took me through the process of how she had arrived at the one she had chose.

I did point out to her that the shape she had chosen looked a little bit like a question mark and since the snake was going to be so small on her foot – it might look like a stripy question mark instead of a snake. I offered to redraw the snake in some other positions for her by the time she came back for her appointment.

When she returned I had several drawings for her to choose from – she still went with the original shape that she had given me – fully understanding that people might mistake it. She didn’t care. It was her little snake and she had decided on the colors and the shape and had put a lot of thought into this…

I put the tattoo on her.

She loved it! She was very excited. I bandaged her up, gave her care instructions.  She gave me a big fat tip and went on her way.

A couple of hours later the phone rings and it is the snake lady. What’s Up? I hate my tattoo. What? What do you mean? You loved it when you left here… what’s the matter? What changed?

I don’t know.

What do you mean you don’t know? Does your husband not like it? What is the problem.

I just don’t know. I’m sorry, I don’t know what it is – but I hate it and you have to cover it.

We can’t cover it now.

How long do I have to wait? You have to cover it. You have to get this off of me.

I really don’t understand. What is the problem with it?

(This goes on for a little while and she is getting much more agitated and offering no further explanation. I agree to cover the tattoo after it heals up and we book an appointment to do so several weeks following)

The intervening weeks are hell for me.

I am full of self-doubt. I wonder what it is that I have done wrong. I take the film out of the camera (I told you this was a long time ago) and rush it off to the one hour place to get the pictures developed so I can obsess over the tattoo.

I show it to everyone.

I interrogate people about what is wrong with the tattoo.

I make a general nuisance of myself.

After a while I get so worked up that I start canceling appointments and giving all of the walk-ins to the other artists.

I have to figure out what I did wrong before I screw up someone else’s tattoo.

Saying that I am upset is a massive understatement.

The only thing anyone can see potentially wrong with the tattoo is that it looks a little bit like a question mark. I am sure that can’t be the problem as she said that she was fine with that.

FINALLY she arrives for her cover-up appointment. I launch at her the second she and her husband walk through the front door.

WHAT IS IT?!? What did I do wrong?!?

You didn’t do anything wrong.

What? What do you mean? You loved your tattoo when you left here and then you hated it when you got home. What changed? Why did you hate something that you loved a few hours before? I have to know what I did wrong. Really you can tell me. I have to know.

You didn’t do anything wrong – I’m afraid of snakes.

Come again?

I’m afraid of snakes. They scare the shit out of me. I had no idea that the tattoo would look so real. I got home and got in the shower to wash it off and looked down at it on my foot and it scared me. I have to get this covered up. You have to put something pretty on there.

I can not tell you the range of emotions that went through me at that point. Of course there was a tremendous amount of relief. I hadn’t done anything wrong. But there was also a overwhelming sense of disbelief. Really? You are scared of snakes? You spent all that time pouring over snake coloring and types in the Peterson Field Guide of yours and during all of that time – it never occurred to you that you were afraid of snakes?!? Really? There was also some anger mixed in there I have to admit. Weeks of torturing myself. Believing that I should quit tattooing all because she chose to have something tattooed on herself that she didn’t REMEMBER she was TERRIFIED of. Really?

Anyhow, I covered the offending snake with tribal and flowers and charged her about four times the price of the original tattoo for the cover-up. She left happy (again) and presumably stayed that way.

I never saw her again and I was pretty okay with that.

Really, you just can’t make this shit up.

Snake Photo stolen from:

~ by justteejay on August 20, 2011.

3 Responses to “Foot Snake”

  1. The best stories are the ones you couldn’t make up! Makes you wonder what was the original thought in her head to get a snake…

    • I often wondered that myself… And more than that, even if she hadn’t remembered she was afraid of them… Why didn’t she figure it out when she was sorting through an entire book filled with detailed photos of them? These are things that we will never know the answers to.

  2. The laughter I found in this blog took many of my fears away. Humor is beautiful. It helped me to see not only your side of overcoming fear, but also this woman’s huge expense because of her ideas about overcoming fear. The process of it all gives so much meaning to the words you shared on paper today. I love your light. I am always humbled by the “perfection” you are in the chapters I write to my soul. Thank you for the blessings you offer in all that you say and do.

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