I blame my kids for a lot of shit. I mean, they’ve taken so much from me. Time… money… okay, mostly time and money, but these are legit things. If I hadn’t had kids I’d… I don’t know, have more time and money? And just maybe having a tattoo.
Just kidding, I love my kids. I mean, yes, I’ve dumped a ton of time and money into them that I’ll never get back, but that’s the deal, right? It’s not like you can have a kid and negotiate with them.
Me: Okay, so you’re born now, so I’m going to need a 5.75% annual rate of return on my investment in you when I get old. Investopedia says around $230k by the time you reach 18. Let’s add a bit for the shit economy and you living with us for a few years and round that up to an even $350k. That means we’re looking at around $677k. You good with that?
Now, Evil Fire-Breathing Dragon-Lady (Her preferred nomenclature, and from here on she’ll be referred to as Dragon Lady or EFBDL for brevity) and I decided early on to have our children… well, early. So as budding, low-income parents in our very early 20’s, my wife and I put everything we had into our kids and our home stability. We almost never went out, we didn’t drink, we didn’t party… in fact, right after we got married, we only went to the movies because she worked at a theater and we got in for free.
And, now that my kids are adults, we should start seeing our expenses per child start to decrease. That’s the theory, anyway. Part of that theory also states that we get more personal freedom since we don’t have to actually take care of them.
Again, that’s the theory.
ANYWAY… Sometimes this freedom manifests as us doing things usually relegated to young adults. Lately we’ve been able to go out to eat and have real date-nights. This week, it was getting a tattoo.
Getting tattoos is something she and I have discussed every so often since we were dating. At one point, we agreed that we’d each get one as soon as my first book came out. Well, Scarlet Angel publishing launch came and went and we never had the time or money to do it. That was nearly five years ago.
I will say, that part of our hang-up has been what to get. Since I was a teenager, I wanted Spaceman Spiff, Calvin’s (of the eponymous Calvin and Hobbs) scifi alter ego. Dragon Lady, on the other hand, has wanted a bunch of different things—bunnies, dragonflies, special phrases, and I’m sure a dozen more. It’s not necessarily that she’s indecisive, it’s just that… Okay, she’s a little indecisive. I’m not talking about finding a place to eat dinner, that’s a whole different animal that even Weird Al recognizes and has immortalized in song.
In many ways, our waffling on what to get has been a huge part of why we didn’t get one at all. I mean, it’s a big deal. As our parents told us, it’s permanent. Of course, that was before the advent of laser tattoo removal, but that’s beside the point. ANYWHO! Whatever we decided to get, it has to be something we both want without question. At times we’d agreed on various things, but I don’t think we ever really felt confident in those decisions.
This last week though, we finally did it. And while we could have, we didn’t pull any of those cliched couple’s tattoo ideas. No dates, no phrases… No, we decided to pick something a little different, a fandom.
See, Dragon Lady and I love video games. We met online on the old Bulletin Board Systems, before the Internets was a common thing. (Yes, we’re THAT level of nerd.) We ended up meeting in person straight away (Yes, at a Dungeons and Dragons game, because we are certainly THAT level of nerd.), but through those BBSes we became friends, then later started dating. And over our entire relationship, video games has been one of our consistent mutual pasttimes. Hence why our children are named Tyriel and Diablo. Just kidding, those are not their names. But they should be.
The best games are the ones we can play together.
Among our most-liked are Guild Wars 2, Warcraft (the original), Minecraft, Diablo, Age of Mythology and a few others. But I think one stands out as our favorite together. It has cooperative play, headshots, adventure, cars, headshots, and loot. And did I mention lots of headshots? Of course, I’m talking about the Borderlands franchise.
Coincidentally, our timing matches up with Gearbox’s release of Borderlands 3, the fourth game in the series, and fifth in the franchise. (Don’t try to do the math on that. Just trust me it works.) This was a chance for us to have something we both love that is individual and still related without being ridiculously corny. Part of what gave us the idea is that the game has a fairly distinct logo, but it’s used in multiple ways. That left us room to have a little fun with our designs.
It JUST so happened that shortly after coming to that conclusion, we were on the way home after work on a Friday night when EFBDL pointed out that Om Ink Gallery was along our route. Om came highly recommended to us, so we decided to stop in.
Om Ink Gallery is right down the street from where we live on the west side of Phoenix. Inside, the place is pretty cool. It’s comfortable and pretty zen, not at all like the mythological biker tattoo parlors on TV. Lots of really cool art all over the place, too. Even in the bathroom. (Which kind of made me think of Charmin’s bear commercial slogan: “Why not enjoy the go?”)
At the counter, we met the gallery’s receptionist who had some pretty badass ink herself. She introduced us to Damien, our would-be artist. He was nice, very knowledgeable. He showed us some of his work and we were duly impressed. It didn’t take long for us to decide that, yes… we were going forward. We were going to get this done.
So we set an appointment for the following Friday, a day we happened to already have off for errands and stuff. Of course, this meant dropping a deposit.
This was the moment of truth. We had to commit money—non-refundable mon-ay!—to the idea of being repeatedly jabbed with a needle (or multiple needles really) just to have a corporate video game logo permanently carved in our flesh. Was this something we really wanted to do? Did we really want to drop $160 to marr the temples that are our bodies?
Hehe… Hell yeah!
Right off, I knew what I wanted. This tat was going to be the first in my left-arm geekdom gallery, each piece a flesh-mounted bit of art representing some of my favorite fandoms. I haven’t decided on the others in the series, but I have more than a few options… Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Wheel of Time, The Expanse, American Gods, Guild Wars 2, D&D… and plenty more.
My wife, on the other hand, was not so decisive. I mean, she KNEW what she wanted: a logo representing an extremely violent video game that made explicit and excessive use of head shots. Also, she wanted something cute.
By Wednesday, she had it figured out. See, if you’re not familiar with Borderlands, you need to understand that one of the most amazing characters in the game is also one of the most genuinely FUCKED up. We’re talking an crazy-sauced mix of adorableness with bloodthirstiness and a heavy dose of insanity. Oh, and explosions. Yeah… I’m talking about Tiny Tina.
Dragon Lady LOVES Tiny Tina. And also bunnies. And since Tina has a couple stuffed bunnies in the game, THAT was what she wanted. So we sent off our art.
Then Friday came…
<To be continued>