Monday, June 27, 2011

To Tattoo or Not To

Hubby had the tires rotated today, and as we sat and waited we observed people of all ages with tatoos. Which brings me to this recently rejected essay that I will share with you. If you enjoy it, will you tell someone else? Direct them to my blog

I am trying to hit 150 followers. Thanks everyone. Well, not HIT them.

Marked for Life

Everyone agrees that laughter is good for what ails you. Like most people I like a good comedy; I enjoy a funny joke, but when the joke’s on me, or my body, it’s no laughing matter. I am not one to judge others. I’m a writer and an artist and I believe in self-expression, but I prefer sketches and paintings on canvas or graffitied on the sides of buildings, not on biceps, legs and necks and certainly not shining from the back of a teen-aged girl’s low-cut waistband. Ouch!

In the 1950’s it used to be guys with “Rosie” tattooed on their chest. Old Navy guys, who in their youth, spent shore leave getting anchors and girlfriends’ names etched onto their forearms later buried them like old memories under long-sleeved shirts and hid them from wives with different names.

Nowadays you see young people, girls and guys, whose bodies look like walking bulletin boards. I am not a prude; I don’t object to what other people do to their bodies or how they flaunt their tattoos. Some display brilliantly hued ‘sleeves’ from shoulder to wrist. It is not uncommon to observe respectable looking men and women standing in check out lines with numerals and letters etched on their forearms and necks.

Personally, I prefer a plastic name badge to announce my affiliations. Nobody’s inking my neck!

When my children were small, I adamantly disapproved of rub-on tattoos. When they
came home from birthday parties, I rifled through their goody bags. Sure, I snatched a piece of candy or two, but my quest was for those fake tattoos that some dumb mom thought was a cute and harmless party favor. If the kids rubbed them on their bodies, I scrubbed them off. I considered transfer tattoos precursors to permanent branding. I vowed not be a party to the defacing of my kids’ bodies. They did enough of that on their own – my son was a billboard of scrapes, scabs and scars and my daughter sported too-orange blush, clashing pink lipstick and hideous fashions.
Kids are fickle at fifteen; if they had imprinted the names of their latest sweethearts on their bodies, there would have been weekly scratch outs and replacement names up and down their arms. I couldn’t prevent their weekly heartbreak, but I was able to prevent their future pain of tattoo removable. I simply said NO to permanent tattoos as they got older.

Times have changed. Nowadays, I cringe when I see my grandchildren sporting a temporary Spidey on their forearm. What can I say when they shove some super hero under my nose and ask me what I think? If I told them, I’d never get grandma visitation, so I direct their attention to my own "tattoo". Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t a willing participant; in fact I was so mad at my new husband when I discovered the half dollar sized, indigo blue heart shape on my lower left leg, I screamed. “Bill, what have you done to me!”

“Married you on Valentine’s Day and made you my wife.” The big joker laughed. His playful nature and sense of humor drew me to him. I liked my funny honey, but I did not appreciate being drawn ON.

“You know how I feel about tattoos.” I grimaced. He watched me spit and rub; he observed as I scoured and scrubbed. But the image remained.

“What did you do, use permanent ink when you drew this?”

“Honey, I didn’t do it. Let me see your leg.”

I raised my leg and shoved my foot into his gut and said, “Look at what you did! I can’t get it off.”

“Now calm down. I didn’t draw on you. Take a closer look and tell me what you really

“I think I love you, but I’m forty years old, and I don’t want a teeny bopper tattoo to prove it.”

I looked closely at my shin and gasped as the realization sunk in that no amount of cleanser or intense scrubbing – nothing, could remove it, short of a visit to the dermatologist. One of my spider veins had broken into a clearly defined, perfect heart shape. I was marked for life.

Nowadays when my grandchildren show me their tattoos, I hike my pant leg and take each child aside individually and say, “See Nana’s tattoo? I got this one to show the world how much I love YOU, but shhh!, don’t tell the other kids.”

When your body plays tricks on you, you might as well laugh and play along.

No tats yet for the clan, at least not where I can see them :)


Kim Lehnhoff said...

I don't mind the rub on tattoos, but I'm not fond of some of the body art I see around me.

Gravity always wins, so the lovely heart on someone's breast will someday be tucked into their waistband.

Hey, if you can call spider veins a tattoo, can I call my stretch marks 'racing stripes'?

Thanks for making me laugh!

Linda O'Connell said...

Hi JuneFC,

Thanks for stopping by. "Racing stripes" I can't stop laughing.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Funny! And I laughed out loud at your "hit them" remark. And I love that you blamed your hubby for the heart. Too funny.

I'm not into tats, but I don't know too many kids between the ages of 18 and 30 who don't have them, except my son. It isn't that he's opposed, he just figures that what he thinks is cool at 29 won't be cool any more at 40. I think he's right. My 24-year-old daughter has 5 tattoos and loves them all. Years ago had I seen a young woman with 5 tattoos I would have thought some very not-so-complimentary things. But my daughter is on her 2nd bachelors degree, working toward an MBA and PhD. Her best friend is also inked...she just earned her 2nd masters, this one in Special Ed. All of that to say that I guess perceptions change over time. Tattoos have gone from being counter cultural to being trendy. Though I have told my girl those shooting stars she prizes will one day be falling stars. Gravity, you see, doesn't care about trends.

Linda O'Connell said...

There is a story there. write it, my friend.

Susan Fobes said...

Well, if you have to have one, at least you didn't get stabbed and inked to do it-LOL!

I'm not into tattoos either, and since my kids are not particularly fond of needles, I don't think they will go the tattoo route either. (My nephew got a shark across his belly when he turned 19, and we keep warning him that one day that nice little shark will look like a whale!)

Sioux Roslawski said...

I have a two word phrase that I've loved since I was 13. I keep saying I will get it tattooed on my wrist...perhaps this is the summer it happens.

I think it's hilarious that your veins made sure you have a tattoo even though you hate them.

BECKY said...

Linda, I think you told me your tattoo story before! Very cute! But, NO rub-on tattooes for your kiddos or grand kiddos? Aww, that's not fair!

Unknown said...

I totally agree with you Linda.

Terri Tiffany said...

LOL Loved this Linda! No tats for me either--I worked in a nursing home and the thought of me with sagging wrinkled tatoos is enough to keep me from ever doing it!!

Peggy Frezon said...

What a perfect plan that your natural tattoo formed a perfect heart!

Purplesong said...

Husband and I at one time had this crazy idea to get matching tatoos after marriage. Have since changed our mind. He's in his forties, I'm in my thirties, none of us ride a motorcycle, although we are each musicians. Still, NO tatoos, thank you! Personally, I thought those were a fad that began to go out.. thing with tatoos is they are permanent. I love how you show your grandchildren your tatoo-- Im sure they think you're so cool. I enjoyed your story:)

Purplesong said...

Whoops! I meant to say your grandchildren may think its a tattoo on your leg, but its really a spider vein, as you mentioned!
I got that:P

Chatty Crone said...

When all these young kids die - and have their autopsies - think what people will think about them - none for me!

Pearl said...

I think I may have developed some "racing stripes" myself lately!!

My son asked for a tattoo on his 16th birthday. I was adamant that this not be done. I forbade it. He swore that it would say "Mom". I thanked him for his dedication but declined. I told him, "Look around you. Some day, the cool thing will be to never have had a tattoo. The nursing homes will be full of stretched out, fading markings and you'll still have your beautiful skin. Leave it alone."
"Well can I dye my hair blue then?"
"Why not," I said.

He never dyed his hair blue, although the whole lacrosse team became "box blondes" at one point. :-)


p.s. I know a woman in FL who let her 11th grade twin daughters get two tattoos apiece. Not cool.

p.p.s. I've been to your site many times and this is the first time I've been allowed to comment! You can imagine my relief!! :-)

Pat Wahler said...

Most every young gal in my office has at least one small tattoo, typically not in places seen unless a swimming suit is the attire du jour.

In my wild old age I've been seriously considering it. Something about a cute little pawprint neatly decorating some obscure part of me seems appealing. Of course, Hubby is opposed to the idea, but once the deed is done...


Anonymous said...

Just like gauging ears. Doesn't anyone think of what it will look like when your body is 50 years older???!

Tammy said...

I giggled through this. What a sign from above that your spider vein transformed into a heart rather than, say, an obscenity or a likeness of Saddam Hussein! I think from now on I'll tell my kids that my spider veins are TATTOOS of spider veins. It's so much cooler. ;)

Fresh Garden said...

Good, very good. This post made me ponder....

Lynn said...

That's funny about the vein, but you're lucky it turned into a heart.