I got my first tattoo in the summer of 1989. My friends and I had just graduated high school, and someone came up with the brilliant idea that we should commemorate the big occasion by going together to get tattoos. We were all starting different colleges in the fall, and figured it would be a great bonding experience; a memory that we could share for years to come.

During those days, tattoos were not nearly as mainstream as they are today. The majority of society frowned upon them, which made me want one even more. For the most part only hardcore bikers, prisoners, artists, and other people that lived outside the borders of society would enter into a tattoo parlor and walk out with some fresh new ink.

That being said, my group of friends was certainly not angels. We did our share of partying and destruction. However we did come from a small town, and not a single one of us even knew someone that had a tattoo. Needless to say, our little adventure was not only daring, it was groundbreaking.

Originally, we were a group of eleven brave souls. Five guys chickened out a few days before we were planned to do the deed. They still hear about it to this day. Ironically, one of the chickens is now covered in tattoos. He has so many that we cannot even count them anymore.

At this point I was not sure what I was going to get for a tattoo. Some of my friends knew exactly what they wanted, while others decided that they would pick them off of the wall once we were in the shop. I am the type of person that does not wing it, so I had to come up with something good. I certainly did not want to just choose one off of the wall, and then end up regretting it.

Back then, either laser removal was yet to be invented or it was so new that nobody really had heard of it yet. This was going to be a permanent decision, and I wanted to make sure that my tattoo would be something that I loved for the rest of my life. Time was ticking, and I needed to figure out what I was going to have done. And then it dawned on me. Donald Duck, my favorite cartoon character from childhood. I could not think of a more poetic way to enter into the first adult phase of my life. Tattoos are grown up decisions, and cartoons characters are the obsession of children.

In 1989 it was illegal in our state to tattoo people, so obviously there were zero parlors. That did not stop us; it was legal in the next state over, and they had plenty places to choose from. By the way, performing the art of tattoos is perfectly legal in our state now. An older sibling of one of my friend’s knew a guy that knew a guy that had a cousin that heard of a good place to go. So the six of us piled into my buddy’s pick up truck, two in the front, four in the bed, and headed out.

We decided that it would be cool to get our tats in the same spot. What it really came down to is that every single one of us was afraid of our parents’ reaction. So you must have guessed it by now, we all decided to ink the hip area. Someone had to have their tattoo done first, and there were absolutely no volunteers. Naturally it came down to me. I still have that Donald Duck tattoo on my hip, and love it just as much now as I did when I first had it done. Since then, I have been inked three more times. I enjoy each and every one of them.

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