Friday, June 12, 2009

The Queen of Pictavia

Irish Wolfounds the size of small tractors bound out of the backroom of a Santa Barbara storefront on State Street near Hwy 101. My eyes are the size of saucers; I’ve never seen one in person before. Standing up at the gate, knowing they are going home, they dwarf all 5’ 7” of me. Named after their purpose – wolf hunting – not their appearance, Irish Wolfhounds are, on average, the tallest dogs on earth. (I must have had a really scary ‘big dog’ experience as a child because any time I see a big dog my first impulse is to throw up my hands.) However Irish Wolfhounds are known to be sweet-tempered, patient, generous, thoughtful and trustworthy with children.

Presiding over them is the world famous Queen of Pictavia, tattoo artist Pat Fish. The minute I first saw her earlier in the day, I realized – having seen photos on her web site -- that she has lost a lot of weight since those pictures were taken. I see a face with fabulous bone structure – the kind models have.

I’ve driven from San Jose – a four-hour Saturday drive from Santa Barbara – with my husband and ‘partner in adventure’ -- just so I can get my tattoo from the Queen; it is her design. I’ve looked and looked for a couple years -- and Eureka! -- this is ‘the one.’ She’s asked me to arrive 2 hours before our appt. so that I can work with her assistant, Colin – whose face, voice and mannerisms are entirely known to me although I’ve never met him before, at least in this life – to make sure I’m getting ‘my’ iteration of the tat, making any design modifications and that it’s sized properly for me.

Early on Colin and I have the conversation about whether the tat – an armband for my upper right arm – will go all the way around, or will it leave the tender underarm unscathed. The answer? Only girlymen do the half-way thing. My husband and I joke about how many people will see it before someone asks if it goes the whole way around.

Finally I’m on my back on the table; the Queen – who’s been doing this for 25 years – has a light hand. With a low threshold of pain, I consider myself somewhat sissy-ish. But I find it only mildly unpleasant to ‘I’m drifting off into my head’ for minutes at a time; the underarm is more tender but only slightly so.

I love my new tat. And I’m already planning the next one a month or two down the road (literally and figuratively) – with the Queen. Of course.

Oh…! And how many people saw it before THE question? The very first person who saw it, on our trip home. He says “Nice tat. Does it go all the way around?” I say, “Yeah.” He says, “Didn’t it really hurt?” I say, “Nah, not that much.”

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