Grab yourself six tall cans in the plastic seagull catcher, this is a long one. To understand this story, I have to start way back in 2011, when two other NSSR members, along with myself, went to the Goodguys Great Northwest Nationals in Spokane, Washington. On the way home, we stopped at a hillbilly flea market in Idaho, where the vendors lived in tents behind their tables. I purchased a pair of Christmas decorations from a lady who could best be described as “Ozzy Osbourne with tits”. They were made from PBR cans (tallboys, obviously), sharp on all edges, and contained no bonus contraband inside of them (I looked). She invited me into her tent to do Jell-O shots, and had I not had to cross the border without sunglasses in thirty miles, I may have taken her up on the offer.
Ever since that day, they’ve hung from the ductwork above my bar, reminding me of both the awesome trip and the Ozz-Woman. Fast-forward five years, and there we were, headed back to Spokane once again. It was the same three guys, the other two with dates, myself with a flash drive packed only with the hardest of rock. There was a catch, though, as our Calgary member had terrible news: The flea market had been shut down. I guess whoever owned the land chased them off to parts unknown, meaning no more dickering, no more barrels of shotguns, and no more Ozz-Woman… That was it, I was getting a tattoo. Maybe not my best quick decision, but it certainly would always be there to remind me of the trip.
Fast-forward once again to the Saturday of the Goodguys event. I had called a few days ahead to a place in old downtown, and told the guy on the phone that I could be there in the afternoon. He told me to show up any time after 3:00pm, so I left the show at 3:00pm on what was supposed to be a fourteen minute journey. Long story short, I had a Google fail, didn’t account for the one way streets, and got there at about 3:30pm. Even though 3:30 is still technically after 3:00pm, the door was locked and the lights were out. The dude in the store next door told me he hadn’t seen any activity there all afternoon, and that I was likely out of luck. My only saving grace was that he mentioned there was a tattoo guy in the back of the hairdressing shop down the street next to the coin wash… A bit sketchy, but what the heck, right?
CLOSED! Lights out! Door locked! Strike Two! God had it in for me that day, I thought… I threw in the towel, got in my truck, cranked up Rancid’s first album, and headed south down Division street, the one-way street that messed me up previously. On that street, I saw the most glorious hitchhiker I’ve ever seen in my entire life. He looked kind of like Kelso off That 70’s Show, no shirt, sweat pants, sleeping bag over his shoulder, and a sign. On that sign, there was only truth, it read “Headed south. Have sleeping bag and weed”. Brutal honesty, ladies and gentlemen. Had I been heading further south than Sprague, I would’ve picked him up just to share the story.
As I made my way further south, I noticed a little red 50’s Dodge Cornet out of the corner of my eye. It was a two-door hardtop, and on the side in giant letters it read “TATTOO”. As I slammed on the brakes and simultaneously changed lanes twice without signalling, I managed to avoid running over a cyclist and make my way into the parking lot, laying the front crossmember and both exhaust pipes into the concrete hard. I parked, shut the truck off, and observed silently. The neon sign said open, and someone was just getting into his car with a freshly shrink-wrapped leg. Be still my beating heart… Could this actually be working out?
I got out of my truck, walked inside, and went up to the counter. “Do you do walk-ins?” I asked. “Yeah, whaddayagot?” he replied. I laid out a picture in front of him. It was a picture of Jay Adams. He was a skateboarding hero of mine when I was a kid, and he’d passed away two years earlier, almost to the day. On his chest, he had a piece that I always liked. It was an oddly drawn skateboard cross with the words “100% Skateboarder” underneath. I wanted a tribute to that, but with wrenches and the word “Hotrodder”, as I have a skateboard that I’m both hopeless and dangerous on. He drew it up real quick in MS Word, using wrench clip art that he found on Google. The font I wanted didn’t have numbers associated with it, so he offered to draw the “100%” freehand. When I saw the fine, plain, black numbers in a smaller mis-matched font, it reminded me of a liquor label, so I told him to leave it for comic relief. I almost had him change it to 100 Proof Hotrodder…
He finalized the drawing, we agreed on a price, and I sat down in the chair. The walls of his little room were covered in punk rock stickers, and a giant Ramones poster was displayed proudly in the corner. There were shelves covered in 80’s toys, and Happy Gilmore was ready to start playing on the television. The background music was the entire Rise Against discography, or at least I assume it was, as nothing else was ever played in the two hours I was in the chair. This wasn’t an accident, everything happens for a reason, and I was supposed to get it done here all along.
In those two glorious hours, I found out the guy doing the work on me not only worked there, he also owned the shop, not to mention another one across town. The Cornet was his first car sign, and at his other location he had an early 50’s Bel Air with the same graphics. His daily driver was sitting outside as well, a 46-48 Chevy Stylemaster street rod. I was getting a hot rod tattoo from a hotrodder. Not only was he a hotrodder, he also owned a punk rock club back in the day. Seriously. Those two hours ended up being all old cars and punk rock, and those two strikes with locked doors ended up getting me a home run at the third stop.
That was all a month ago now, and not a morning goes by that I don’t walk by my PBR can decorations to the bathroom, look in the mirror, and laugh at how awesome my liquor label skateboarder tribute is. The flea market being closed? Oh well, after writing this, I’m over it.