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Rebel Without a Clue

On Removing Tattoos

Copyright © 2000 by Perry Gaidurgis


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The heated up flesh with its pungent odor smells like a body on fire. The sweat soaks the clothes and gets uncomfortable. I almost want to cry for the old and new me being revealed. “A Rebel without A Clue” would be the title of my life story.

Why in the hell am I going through with this again? Does it hurt more to have these old ink markings than not to? Why again am I going through with this screams in my head? With 19-20 tattoos I wanted to look normal for others and myself and have fewer eyes on me. Police, old people, and children either commenting out-loud or with their eyes with surprise, curiosity, contempt or suspicions. I am just tired of pretending this didn't happen or that it even bugs me.

It hurts like hell. It's revisiting the old acting out me that is dead.

There is something very angry about this self-inflicted pain at each treatment. There are many of these painful treatments needed to fully remove each tattoo. It feels and looks like I'm a mummy with the gauze and bandages and netting and tape. I am a mummy ghost of sorts in this sad grieving process. There are times I'm so sure I want this and others times when this is confusing as to why and why now.

It's very expensive and easy to go poor from this cosmetic procedure. I do wonder just how vain this appears? Is this an ego driven process, as was the getting of tattoos in my teens? To shock others and rebel and either have you scared of me or like me? Am I so special to be looked at either way? What you think of my appearance and me is it really that important? (To your judgements and me as well.)

Can changing the outer you change the inner you? Does the outer reflect the inner or the other way around? I get to repeat it and it hurts either way. I've changed but the tattoos haven't.

What I thought was cool and neat at 16,17,18 years old, with alcohol and drugs and criminal behavior and gang membership thrown in, is not in this current 42-year-old body. It's not really much of a choice anymore; I want to look like me and not my past.

HATE on your knuckles isn't very attractive to most regular people that I now live and work around. I'm not in prison anymore. A semi-nude large woman on the inner arm or the playboy bunny does not exactly attract the love life I want or currently have. A skull or the snake around the bleeding knife doesn't usually invite friendliness to strangers either. Trying to explain Schlitz across my shin while playing golf is downright embarrassing. Is it true I could have been used as a lampshade in world war two?

The addictiveness of getting lots of tattoos tends to kick in as you get them off. It seems it can't happen fast enough. You wait at least 6 long weeks between treatments. As you make the next appointment you're skin tingles and crawls with apprehension of promised pain. You get to park next to the Doctor's new Jaguar that you helped pay for. Oh this all makes for great conversation, as people see your healing scabs and wonder why you do this, except for others with tattoos they don't like either.

I remember the time a few months before beginning the first removal treatment that I was called in to be an extra in Clint Eastwood’s film In The Line Of Fire. I was to be a secret service agent wearing a tux in the French embassy state dinner. I was so paranoid the whole day of shooting that anyone including Clint was going to spot the HATE on my fingers and tell me to get the hell out of here and not ruin their film. But for that, it could have been a better experience.

There was the first time meeting my future ex-mother-in-law, where she asked in her politeness if those letters on my knuckles were Greek. She really didn't want to believe what was there said HATE, gosh, her daughter was in for trouble.

Driving across the country in the heart of Texas I was stopped for speeding early one morning. The State policeman saw the HATE tattoo and asked if I had ever been in prison and I honestly answered "yes". He asked if I had any firearms in the car and I honestly answered "no". He told me to get out of the car, and could he look around inside the car and get out of the car so he could pat me down. I drove away with a speeding ticket, hating him and myself and life.

So in hindsight I would have wished I never had gotten a tattoo and wished I had a self-esteem that could and would let me be me in this world just as I am. I would have been richer inside and out if I never had tattoos. There is something mature of not having to call attention to yourself at any age. I sometimes like tattoos on other people and don't always judge others for their choices, only my own.

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