Of course, I couldn't allow my parents to see it, and since I was away at university at the time, that proved to be relatively easy to do. Even when I returned home for summer, it was no effort at all to hide all but just the tip. You see, I had thought about it and I knew I was going to be in the mainstream working world and at the time (early 1980s) tattoos were still frowned upon by "polite society" as were earrings and pretty much any other personal flash on a man. So I had decided to put the tattoo on my lower leg. It was easy to hide, because back in those days, three-stripe tube socks (to the knee, natch) were the thing.
Almost a year after I had it put on my body, my father saw it.
“What is that on your leg?”
“What? Where?” I had no idea what he was talking about. For all I knew it was an alien predator sucking me dry.
“Poking above your sock. It looks red. Orange?”
Uh oh. Here it comes. The Brow is going to blow.
“Uh, it's a tattoo, Dad. It's a dragon." I pulled down my sock. “See?”
He leaned in a bit closer and peered at it. “Huh. You know that's permanent, right?” I assured him I was aware. “Your choice.” he said. Then walked away. Damn, I miss him.
Fast forward several decades, and there I was, standing outside a tattoo studio in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I’d been noodling with the idea of getting a tattoo for about the last six to nine months. I’d finally found pretty much exactly what I wanted. All I needed was the courage to open the door. So I did. I talked to the artist to get an idea of how much, and how long it would take. After all, I can’t have sitting around getting tattooed cutting into my ever important afternoon $0.50 beer drinking time. Ninety minutes. Doable. How much? $60. Sealed the deal. How could I possibly turn around when it was the same price I paid oh-so-long ago?