Luke Matthews

Luke gets a tattoo


For the last 10 years, I’ve known exactly what tattoo I would get if I ever decided to get one. I had the design in my head for years, occasionally thinking about it and wondering if it was still what I would want. I never wanted anything different, I just couldn’t bring myself to get it done.

Recently, I was reading my friend Becky’s “40 before 40” list she made. It reminded me that I myself wrote up a “30 before 30” list when I was 28. At the age of 35, I am still crossing things off that list. Becky’s list inspired me to go back and try to finish what I had started. I had 13 things remaining before Tuesday. Now, there’s 12. This is the story of me getting my first tattoo.

I decided to get my work done at 5 Point Studios in Clive. My friend from high school, Jen, and her fiancé own the shop and I knew I could trust her. I knew that Craig was one of the best artists in town and that I wouldn’t have to worry about the quality of work, especially since it was a design I’ve had in my head for 10 years. I didn’t tell many people what I was getting beforehand. I didn’t want people to judge what I was getting and somehow talk me out of it. I had come this far, I wasn’t turning back.

Tuesday night was my appointment. It was to last just 2 hours. I was feeling good as I sat in the chair. I had two friends, Z and Brea watching over as the process began. I decided to get the tattoo on the side my left calf. As the first needle strikes began, I thought to myself, “Wow, this does kinda sting, but nothing I can’t handle.”

tattoo1About 5-10 minutes into the session, this woman comes into the shop and wants to talk with Craig while he’s working on me. She’s had some bad experiences at other tattoo shops in town and she’s pretty distraught about it. When I say she’s distraught, I mean the woman broke down crying half a dozen times. She was talking with Craig so much and freaking out so much about the work she had done that she was starting to stress me out. Craig had told me in the beginning that I needed to be calm, breathe, and don’t tense up while he was working. Tensing up would make it more painful, he said. Despite my efforts to not tense up, this lady was making me very, very tense. After about 15 minutes of this, she finally leaves. But I’m not doing well.

Right at this point, my wife arrives to check on the progress. I’m tense and getting really hot. I ask for a glass of water. Craig asks me if I’m feeling dizzy. I’m not, but I noticed that not only am I hot, I’m a bit nauseous. Then, there it was. I was dizzy. Craig put a cold towel on my neck. I was breathing heavy. I was a great candidate for passing out right there. Wait, no. I’m not going to pass out.

I’m going to throw up.

Craig puts a trash can in front of me, but my pride won’t let me throw up in front of anyone. I dart for the bathroom with my wife in tow. I sit down on the toilet and let the room spin like I was back on the Silly Silo. After a few minutes, I get my equilibrium back and things seem well. I’m still drinking my cup of water when my hand forgets how to be a hand and the cup falls, right on to my shorts and underwear. They are now soaked.

It looks like I’ve peed my pants.

This is not the manly tattoo appointment I had envisioned. I’ve nearly passed out, nearly vomited, and now it appears that I’ve wet myself. Ladies, the line forms to the left.

After drying myself the best I could, I reemerge to have my work finished. Craig forces me to chug a can of Mountain Dew. As a guy that quit drinking caffeine, this sounds like a stellar idea. Craig goes back to work and I seem to be doing much better. That is until the caffeine starts to take effect. My leg starts to randomly shake for no good reason. Luckily, Craig is just finishing up. He was going to put a white outline around my design to help it pop, but decided against it because my leg was shaking so much. Welcome back to my body, caffeine.

At shortly before 8:00pm on Tuesday, my first tattoo was finished. The tiger paw is that of my beloved Valley High School. Crossing through the paw is a banner with the frequency “88.7.” It’s the frequency of the Valley radio station, KWDM. KWDM was my very first radio station more than 21 years ago. That station gave me the start to the career I have today and this was my way of showing my eternal gratitude.

I already have plans for my second tattoo to honor my other school, Iowa State. But that will come a ways down the road. And hopefully, without passing out.

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