Dolphin Tattoos & Still I Rise

There comes a time in every 17-year old girl’s life where you’re sitting in your room, staring at your Kirk Cameron poster, and thinking “what should my starter tattoo be?” I had a weird fascination with manatees during the formative part of my teen years. This tied in to my weird fascination with Florida before I realized that Miami is cool, but the rest of Florida is like a really large Bakersfield.

So my original thought was that a manatee tattoo was the way to go. On the left ankle of course. That way I could hide it with socks, and if you get it on the left ankle it means you’re straight. I asked a friend to draw me a sketch of a manatee. The drawing was hideous because manatees, which are notoriously the miss congeniality of the sea, are not beautiful creatures.

I loved the ocean, always have (this was noted in the love letter that I wrote to wrongly convicted, but recently exonerated Ryan Ferguson). I loved swimming and anything aquatic. I have volunteered for the Special Olympics on several occasions, and always give out awards in Aquatics. (Side note: I have only had one verbal altercation with a Special Olympics athlete. I stand by the fact that I was provoked). So I settled on a dolphin…with the sign for infinity on the side. Because I want dolphins to last until the end of time? I’m still not sure why I added that, but moreover I was a naïve teenager from the Midwest that was totally unaware of the dolphins’ proclivity towards gang rape.

Then there comes a time when your dreams of moving to Florida come true, but you’re still homesick for the Southwest so you go to Vegas with a friend and get another tattoo. I was going to meet some So Cal friends of mine there, and we were staying the first night at a random hotel off the strip on Tropicana. As a nervous flyer, and an alcoholic, I often imbibe heartily before and during any trips that I take. By the time I reached Vegas, I was definitely tipsy, and just wanted to get to the hotel so that I could shower and eat. I reached the hotel and asked the concierge for a room key under my friend’s last name. He was a young kid who didn’t even look up as he handed me the key. I went up to the room, and noticed clothes laid out on the beds. They must have already went out, I thought. I looked around, and tried to decide if I should shower or take a nap. As I scanned the room trying to figure out what to do I noticed Popeye’s Chicken on the kitchen table. Thank God, they ordered food. I put some fried chicken and mashed potatoes on a plate, and popped it into the microwave. I started unpacking my suitcase on the couch as I wasn’t sure which room was mine. All of a sudden there was a knock at the door. I opened to find not one, but eleven Hispanics of Mexican descent on the front step. One of the men that was about my age asked what I was doing in their room. We went back and forth for a few seconds until I realized that the front desk guy must have given me the wrong room key. They filtered in, and surrounded me as I repacked my bag. As I was getting ready to leave I heard the microwave ding that my food was ready. I paused as I was still drunk enough to consider going back in to get it.

The next night I went to Ago at the Hard Rock with my friends, and we saw Vince Neil, his wife, and about 8 other people seated at his table. I had just read his autobiography, and not being a huge Vince Neil fan in the past, I was all in at this point. When the waiter came over to take our order, I asked him to send a shot of tequila over to Vince. He walked over, whispered in Vince’s ear, and then returned: “Mr Neil says thank you, but he’s a recovering alcoholic.” Undeterred I asked the waiter to send a slice of cake over to Vince. Again the waiter went over, whispered in Vince’s ear, and then returned: “Mr Neil says thank you, but he’s on a diet and not eating sugar.” Again undeterred, I asked to buy a round of appetizers for the table. This ping pong game of ordering items off of the menu for Vince Neil only to be turned down by Vince Neil went on until finally the waiter was sick of the game, and refused to go back over.

My friends wanted to go to Drai’s that night/early morning. I said that I would only go if I could get a tattoo first. I promised them that I had wanted to get a second, more prolific and meaningful tattoo for years. So my friends agreed to go with me to Hart & Huntington to do the deed. I wish I could say that Maya Angelou inspired me to get the tattoo, but I had actually just read a Karrine Steffans: Video Vixen book where she had talked about Maya Angelou’s quote, and that is why I decided to get “Still I Rise” tattooed on my arm. I had originally wanted it on my wrist, but after talking to the tattoo artist and telling him that I had a Corporate job, he suggested that I get the tattoo on my bicep. Here’s the problem: I had not wanted that tattoo for years. I had only wanted it after a few Red Bull and Vodkas, but I didn’t want a cliché Vegas story so I lied to my friends, shelled over $200 for a tattoo in cholo cursive on my bicep, and then I woke up the next day and cried. In my head, people would see the tattoo and weep and throw roses at it and light Jesus candles in it’s glory. None of that happened. My friends made fun of me, and I was so self-conscious of the tattoo I covered it up with band-aids and ¾ length sleeves until I could get it removed. My unknowing friends and colleagues just thought that I was very generous with donating blood. It took seven sessions at $200 a pop to get it removed.

I only have a picture of the dolphin tattoo as I removed all of the Still I Rise tattoo photos in case I ever want to run for President.

Dolphin tattoo


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