• The Tale of Taz

    For those of you following my photos over on my Facebook author page, you will remember me promising to tell you the story behind my Taz tattoo. Well, here it is.

    Many many moons ago (1996) I was travelling the USA on a Trek America style holiday, and our tour had landed in Panama City Beach, Florida.

    Let loose for the day, my friend and I did the one thing neither of us should ever do… we went sunbathing. Both tending towards the milk bottle glow, we knew very well that it was a fine line between white and lobster, but we didn’t care; three weeks on the road cooped up in a van with a bunch of strangers can do that to you.

    Promising not to be gone too long, my friend disappeared to find us some lunch. Four hours later she returned to find me sound asleep on the beach, the back of my body a beautiful shade of ruby.

    Now, you may wonder what this has to do with Taz, but bear with me, all will be revealed.

    After one of the tour guides thought it funny to advise me to take a ‘hot’ shower to ease my sunburn (don’t ask), I stiffly accompanied everyone out for an evening at the fair.

    Being of the ‘unable to resist’ a dare variety, I jumped at the chance to do something wild; the options being bungee jump or tattoo.

    Well, this choice wasn’t difficult. As I valued my brain and didn’t want to compress it doing something stupid, I opted for tattoo.

    Picture it: midnight in a tattoo parlour in Panama City Beach, my first tattoo option (a butterfly on my tummy) turned down by the artist (he didn’t tattoo women on their stomach as pregnancy distorted them permanebtly) I was left to browse the hundreds of options.

    Cue an idea! I was frequently called ‘Taz’ around this time, for my ability to go from calm and serene to cataclysmic in seconds, and so I hunted down the Taz pictures and found the perfect one. Taz with a halo – a contradiction. I couldn’t have hoped for a more apt representation of myself.

    Pleased, I presented my choice to the Tattooist who smirked before asking where I wanted it. ‘See the white bit amongst all the red,’ I said, indicating my expanse of raw skin. He flinched before nodding. ‘Put him there.’ The Tattooist asked me why and I replied, ‘Because my dad will never see it!’

    Side bar in my tale – my dad did see it. Unavoidable really when you get married on the beach and take your parents as witnesses – to your nuptials AND the change in bikini fashion!

    Anyway, back to the Tale of Taz. I was told to straddle what reminded me of an upright bench press and was given a pillow to “bite down on”. Now, I was a little alarmed by the news that I would need to bite down on something, but a dare was a dare.

    The Tattooist went to work and I could feel a tickling sensation on my lower back and after a few minutes he showed me the result.  Although much larger than the picture I’d given him, I was impressed and gave him the pillow back, surmising that most of his clients must have a really low pain threshold. I started to get up, when he asked me where I was going. I looked at him, puzzled, and said, ‘Haven’t you finished?’, to which he erupted in laughter and pushed me back down. ‘I haven’t even started,’ he replied.

    Apparently, all that could be heard in the waiting room was, ‘Ow, ow, that f***ing hurts’ over and over, until I ran out to show my friends the results of my dare. That the waiting area was packed with people I didn’t know, people who got a full on view, not only of my lovely Florida suntan but also of my ass, still makes me shudder!

    Once my embarrassment was over – no amount of blushing could rival my posterior chain! – I was sent away with strict instructions to clean my new friend in a couple of hours. There were two issues with this – firstly, it was now 1am and I would need to stay awake (didn’t go so well for me earlier in the day), and secondly, I was on a campsite.

    Being the good little Girl Guide I once was, I managed to stay awake and at 3am precisely took myself off to the less than clean bathrooms on the campsite. Naïve is probably the best way to describe my expectation as I peeled away the covering over my brightly coloured devil. Expecting to see a pristine tattoo, I was not prepared for the amount of blood that covered him.

    Horror writer or not, I passed out cold on the grubby tiled floor of that bathroom, shorts halfway down. Lucky for me, one of the girls I was on the trip with came in half an hour later otherwise who knows when I’d have woken up!

    You’ll be pleased to know my second tattoo went much more smoothly.

    May fear protect you when the darkness comes.

    ’Til next time.