I got a tattoo last week. It’s across my upper back, between the blades.
Now don’t panic, my family, it’s just an air-brushed one. It only lasts about a week, by the time you read this it should be mostly washed off. Last week I had some free time while chaperoning a group from my son’s school bus trip to a theme/water park, and I thought “Hey, why not?” Its application felt cold but I’m sure that’s better than a needle would have felt. Now many people, myself included, have often wondered what would drive a person to permanently mark themselves with a design that they may regret 10,20, or 50 years from now? What makes the pain of the needle worth the result? Why aren’t these people happy with the skin they’re in?
But having this little experiment done with shiny paints definitely gave me an inkling into the lure of body design. The delicate motif had a surprising affect on me. I felt pretty, independent, and unique. It’s wasn’t an in-your-face kind of thing, (especially since it was behind me), but more of just a decoration. It’s like wearing a necklace or bracelet, and in its innocence reminded me that, at 50, I still can try new things just for the fun of it. I really enjoyed how I could express myself with a simple work of art — kind of like face-painting for adults.
I have several relatives and friends with unique tats and they are passionate about them. One has a gorgeous peacock, and another even has a famous baseball logo on her. Now that’s devotion. Getting reactions to mine was half the fun! Most of my initial reactions were (Gasp!) “Is that real?”, and a then a sigh of relief when they were told it wasn’t. My octogenarian neighbor asked bluntly “What the hell is that?” but then mellowed and even found it ‘cute’ when I explained it to her. But considering that it wasn’t a scary or gruesome design, it was a bit surprising to have to explain the why of it. It was just hearts and flowers, how innocent can that be? Now I do understand both positive and negative attitudes about tats, unfortunately they can become an easy way to judge a stranger. Yet these voluntary designs, simple as a heart or as complicated as a family tree, always express the true soul of a person. Whenever I meet some0ne with a tat I like, I ask about it, and there’s always a good story about it. Always.
The most touching story of a tattoo I heard was from a young man waiting for his lunch at McDonalds. There on his thin, muscled right arm, was a motif of seven military dog tags, linked together in a chain. He told me proudly that the numbers had belonged to him, his late father, and five of his military buddies who had either been injured or killed in Iraq. It was his way of keeping their sacrifices, spirits, and memories alive. I was so touched by this. I thanked him for all of their hard work and sacrifice, shook his hand, and praised him for this loving gesture.
Now I’m not about to get a permanent tattoo, but I definitely appreciate them more than I used to. Next time you see a tattoo you like, just ask the owner them about it. I’m sure they’ll be happy to explain.