Thigh High

Like all good addictions, it started small really small. Just a little one to try it out. Then, slowly, I found myself spending nights fixated on how it would feel to have more. Yes, I wanted more. I had to have it. "Just one more," I would tell myself, as if to justify my actions. This was 10 years ago. Today, I'm a full-blown junkie.

My nephew was visiting for the winter holiday. After spending two wonderful weeks getting to know each other all over again, he turned to me, smiled and asked if I could hook him up.

"Consider yourself warned, you will become addicted," I said. "One is never enough."

He insisted and off we went to find him the best first-time experience any future addict could have.

We arrived at Fine Art Tattoo on 27th Avenue and Thomas Road. We carefully selected the best design to fit his virgin arm, and eventually chose a large sun with a face in the Toltec style. The artist went to work, and I watched as my nephew tried to hide the pain. He acted cool, but the red color of his face told the truth.

Ten years ago it was illegal to give or receive a tattoo in Mexico. Currently, a Mexican with a tattoo cannot serve in the country's armed forces. And the Catholic Church still frowns on body piercing and skin art. In the last decade, however, there's been a proliferation of tat shops throughout Mexico. While I traveled the country a couple of years ago, I hoped to find an extraordinary body artist. My entire left leg I've dedicated to pre-Columbian food and art, and I needed some new designs.

I found what I was looking for in Xpú-Ha, a coastal town with turquoise beaches, where my leg received a wonderful artifact: a Toltec skull with a corn stalk coming from its mouth. In Zacatecas, I gained another Toltec skull to complement the first. My thigh is also the canvas for a Mayan woman riding a deer, and a scene in the style of Diego Rivera of two women making tortillas.

Genaro, a very talented artist from Fine Art Tattoo, drew my latest acquisition. Kum-Kaax is the Mayan god of maize and he's the perfect addition to my leg. In the indigenous Mexican culture, corn represents life.

The art of tattoo has been part of my culture for more than a thousand years. When Hernan Cortez came to Mexico, he found the Aztec royalty, both men and women, adorned with elaborate tattooing from head to toe.

My sister jokingly told me that I should be working in a side show. You never know, if my career as a chef fails, you just might see me as the tattooed lady when the circus comes to town.

The author is a local chef and restaurant owner.


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