Not very long ago I was in New York for a few weeks and decided to get a tattoo while I
was there. It was a partly impulsive decision. Iâ€™d thought of doing it for years, but I think
of doing all sorts of relatively exciting and ostensibly transgressive things and never do
them, either because I am too lazy or too cowardly or because I come to my senses in
time to stop myself.
I was in New York mostly on account of not wanting to be in Boston. I was at sea from a
breakup, and the former beloved happened to live next door. You are probably supposed
to get a tattoo removed at the end of a relationship, get that name in the heart erased or
changed to signify something else Â— Ken to Kenya, Olivia to Bolivia. But somehow this
great unpleasant change in my life made me feel as if it was the right time to get the
tattoo done. You have all sorts of ideas for self-improvement at such times. And I had
always had a particular self-improvement purpose in mind for my tattoo: that it should
serve as a visible reminder to be a better person, a symbol that, every time I saw it,
would remind me that I had made a commitment to myself to be good.
A friend recommended a place to me, but I waited too long to call. So I just wandered
around in the East Village looking for a place. I told myself I wouldnâ€™t go anywhere that
had a chain of bongs hanging in the window. Half a dozen parlors on St. Markâ€™s Place
eliminated themselves immediately, and I was g...
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