When I asked my best friend what he wanted for his birthday, I didn’t expect him to say he wanted me to give him a tattoo.
Usually, I plan his birthday about 4-5 months in advance. I like to give him well thought-out homemade gifts, and if I’m being honest, it’s like an exercise in seeing how easily I can make him cry (it’s not as easy as I’d like). We also have this sort of tradition of giving each other children’s picture books that describe our friendship. So far, we’ve given & received I Like You, Side By Side, You and Me, several Little Elliot books, and my favorite picture book in the world, Paul Meets Bernadette. I generally spend an agonizing amount of time looking for the perfect book, but this year my luck came early when I read How To Make Friends with a Ghost in May. The book was not only super cute (you can see me crying over the ghost’s little face in Cindy’s vlog of that week) but it detailed a fun friendship that lasts beyond a lifetime. Perfect!
But that wasn’t the end of my gift-giving, apparently. I wouldn’t say I was surprised when he asked me to give him a tattoo. It was more of a feeling of, “are you sure you trust me to be anywhere near you with a sharp object?”
The answer is yes.
I had some time to think about what kind of tattoo I’d like to give him. It couldn’t be too intricate, because I’m not artistically inclined enough to pull that off, and it couldn’t be too big, because I was sure a stick-n-poke would take a while to do even the smallest of designs. At first, I thought about giving him a little doodle galaxy with the coordinates to somewhere in New York City, like the neighborhood we lived in or maybe a place in Manhattan with a nice memory. The morning of his birthday, though, I suddenly decided that I’d give him a little infinity symbol instead, one that would match the one on the back of my neck — my very first tattoo!
17-year-old Nikki’s first tattoo~ It’s weird seeing my neck so… bare like this.
We watched a movie (Paprika) and some videos of one of our favorite YouTubers (Sushi Ramen) and then sat down to get to work. I was hoping the videos would loosen my nerves, but there’s really no way to prepare myself to repeatedly jab my best friend with a needle, you know?
This was at the height of my nerves, tbh
After disinfecting and making sure the area was ready, I drew on the infinity symbol with a shaky hand and got to work. I didn’t expect the ink to bloom so big and at first, I was worried that I’d messed up and was giving him an extra beefy tatt. But after the first time wiping the ink away, I saw a thin dotted line marking proof that I’d actually done it.
What it looked like before I wiped the excess ink away…
…and after! This was the result of the second round. Also, that bruised-looking area is just wiped-away ink. I promise he was not hurt during this process apart from the obvious! 😬
We spent a few more rounds going over it, maybe 6 or 7. We jammed out to Ariana Grande and Selena as we went along (this was a much better way to ease my jitters) and he occasionally showed me some memes as he scrolled through his phone. I gotta give him credit, he handled it pretty well. I mean, he does have probably more tattoos than I have and gets piercings so impulsively, he probably doesn’t even feel them anymore. But those were done by professionals. It can’t be easy to sit there while someone who has almost no idea what she’s doing presses a needle into you over and over for an hour.
Finally, we were done! I gotta say, I was pretty pleased with the end result. It’s a little lopsided and funny-looking, but I think it’s a nice marker in our friendship, and represents it fairly well — silly, impulsive, made with tons of trust.
And now I can say that I’ve given a tattoo! What an event for the baby book. It was a fun way to end my summer and realign my beliefs about myself: why shouldn’t I be able to do something that seems impossible or at least out of my reach? I’m not sure I would give another tattoo in the future, but at least I know I can!