My tattooed mission from God

My tattooed mission from God


The Final Word column by Chris Graham

Famous last words: “Well, the transaction cleared the debit card, so I guess I can’t change my mind now.”

And that, honestly, was the first time I ever gave the idea that had been hatched in all places sitting in church a couple of months ago a second thought.

I think the missus, for her part, thought I was bluffing when I first informed her of my scheme. “OK. Whatever. It’s your body,” she said, with the tone of a parent not really expecting the rebellious teen to go through with whatever nonsense idea they might spout off at any particular time.

She even went with me to the tat store, and snickered out loud when we were intercepted on the way by a local church pastor who pulled up in his car literally in front of the tattoo place downtown as we walked to the front door.

“Out for a stroll?” he asked by way of making uncomfortable-for-me smalltalk, considering.

It gets better. Turns out that the tattoo place in question was booked for the day.

“I can probably get you in one day next week,” he started, and I was having none of it. Because there was no turning back, or, well, you know what I’m saying. Namely, that if I turned back at this stage, my bet is I’d never go through with it. And I was bound and determined.

Which landed me at the other tattoo place downtown. But not until after I’d run into a nice lady who had been a big supporter of mine when I ran for City Council last year.

“Nice day for a walk, isn’t it?” she said after intercepting the traveling party down the stairs from the shop.

Soldiering on, I handed the printed V logo that I’d been carrying in my back pocket to the nice man behind the counter, who, to my surprise, wasn’t covered head to toe in tattoos.

“I can do that,” he said, and then the debit-card machine did its magic, and voila, I was sitting in a chair with a man with all manner of needles and instruments that sounded like buzzsaws attached to them and little bottles full of ink surrounding him at my side.

The wife sat a few feet away with the video camera ready to record the moment for posterity. Having since seen the video, I have noticed, one, how she laughed uncontrollably through the whole thing, and two, the fear and trepidation in my face at the first sound of the buzzsaw, or whatever it was that the tatman was going to use to dig into my arm.

“Argh!” was the word of the day, or at least the next 10 minutes, give or take. I can be seen at one point on the video wiping back, er, moisture, yeah, moisture, from my eyes. “I’ve got to get closer if you’ve got tears,” my obviously-concerned-for-my-health-and-wellbeing beloved said to me, unable to contain her amusement. “No, it’s just extreme sweat. My eyes are sweating,” I corrected the record.

The last 20 minutes or so were relatively pain-free, I have to say. That was the part where the guy filled in the orange coloring against the outline that he had gnawed into my shoulder with the buzzsaw.

It was to a point where I got out of the chair saying out loud, Yeah, I could do this again.

“It’s the thirst for ink,” the tattoo artist said to me. “You’ve got it now.”

That, and a right shoulder that looks awful bare now in comparison.

Sidebar – Web Extra: Eye sweat, or tears?

Watch the YouTube video “Think ink” to see the pain etched in Chris’ face at



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