Thursday, March 11, 2010

What's in a Tattoo?

Over the years, I remember my dad telling me how disgusting it was seeing people with tattoo's. Well, he really never officially said it, but he had a dislike for tattoo's themselves. It was kind of funny because one of his good friends owned a tattoo shop and I remember visiting him often at the shop on several occasions.

Fast forward a few years. I've thought about getting a tattoo close to 20years now...geez, has it been that long now? Well, anyway, I've been thinking about getting a tattoo that has a lot of meaning for me. One that would remind me of the two best years of my life. Those years happened after I graduated high school and marched with The Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps from Rosemont, IL.

I wasn't sure what type of tattoo I wanted, but several had come to mind.

One was what we called the "Standing Man". In 2003, a few alumni and I were talking and we thought about getting this tattoo somewhere on our bodies. Well, one actually did it and put it on his calf, while the other two chickened out. Of course it turned out really cool and I really wanted to get one, but I was way too nervous to actually do it. I didn't know if I wanted this or not as well as know where I would put the tattoo, would I put it on my calf, arm, shoulder-blade? I just didn't know.

Another option was to get the "Guido" head shot. This is a little more detailed and up close, but again would remind me of the hard work, dedication, the many miles we traveled, marched, and the countless number of new friends (brothers) I would make not only during my two years of marching, but the new friends I would make over the years from the great organization. The idea again went to where would I put this tattoo? I couldn't come up with a good idea, and just never thought about it again.

Two other options I thought about which linked to the Corps itself: a 'Rainbow' tattoo (as one of the two corps songs is "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"), or a 'Rose' tattoo (because the corps has been sponsored by The Village of Rosemont, IL since 1982.) Neither of these really struck me close to home, but I kept thinking to myself how I could remember those wonderful years. What am I missing that when I look at this tattoo (which will be forever) that I could say "yeah, I worked hard for that tattoo, and made some very lasting friends and grew up because of them"

It finally donned on me during 2003. I got laid off of work for 5 months, and it couldn't have come at a better time for me. It was Summer time! That meant the corps was already on tour, and I could finish out the rest of the season volunteering my time with them giving them my 'expertise' (or help) with administrative duties, or better yet, help drive one of the Support Vehicles, or Souvenir truck.

A few of the current marching members had tattoo's that resembled another 'nick-name' that was associated with the corps. "The Green Machine".  The Cavaliers marching was so precise, that when they marched around the football field, they literally looked like a moving machine. You could usually hear a pin drop in the stadium because the crowd was so intent in what the corps was doing, or waiting to see what kind of drills would be made.

Some of the young guys had 'Gear' tattoo's. Gears resembled this well oiled machine. We received 1 gear for each year we marched with the corps, and a separate gear for being initiated. These gears would be worn around our necks. New guys didn't have any gears as they haven't completed a full year marching. Some only had 1 gear, while the 'old guys' would have 5-10 gears.

Since 2003, I knew I wanted a tattoo, but just couldn't bring myself to actually getting it done. Now that I've narrowed it down to either the 'Guido', 'Standing Man', or 'Gear', the question became where was I going to put it. I couldn't put it too far down my arm due to work (they look down on tattoo's), and I didn't want to have it always covered up when I was off duty. Did I want to put it on my leg? What about my shoulder blade where I've seen other tattoo's?

One of my great friends here in Minneapolis already has several tattoo's, so we were talking about me getting one finally. He has a tribal band around his arm that he altered to put a lightening bolt in, as well as a dragon tattoo down his forearm.

As we were talking, he kept asking me what I wanted, or where I wanted to put it. I mentioned the shoulder blade, but he made a very good point as when would I ever be able to see it and enjoy it. He knew this tattoo meant a lot to me, so why not put it in a place where I could see it. So, I finally made my decision. The upper part of my left arm. I chose the gear along with the two years that I marched. I chose the Green, Black, and White as it's the corps' colors as well, but I didn't think the white would really come out well. The Tattoo artist at Saint Sabrina's did an outstanding job!

I gave her two idea's of what I wanted. I wanted the gear to be 3-D, as well as colored. I told her about the significance of the gear and years and this is what she came up with. I'm extremely happy to finally have something that forever links me to an organization that means so much to me.

I was surprised that it didn't hurt as much as I was expecting. I suppose that the technology has changed so much over the years that it's gotten a lot better than it was in year's past. The funny thing is, I'm already thinking about putting the 'Guido' tattoo on my other arm where the feather would go off onto my back....what do you think?

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