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Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Over the weekend, I binged on the Miami Ink marathon on TV. I was fascinated both by the talent of the artists, and by the many odd and wonderful reasons people get the tattoos they get. I don't have any tattoos. Until recently, I never even considered it. And I still probably don't seriously consider it. But maybe. I arrived just a tad too early to be in the generation of women who think tattooing is no big deal. It's a big deal to me. Although I don't know if my tattoo skepticism is due to my generation or to my temperament, my spirit, my A.D.D. Anything one enters into with the expectation of (relative) permanence is a big, HUGE deal to me. Marriage, mortgage, parenthood and the like. Getting my ears pierced at 13 was a big deal. How do I know I will always want this? is what I ask myself. As I inflicted episode after episode of Miami Ink on my family, LG asked her father and me if we had any tattoos. Both of us answered in the negative. Would we ever get one?

Me: Starting to think about it.
Jif: If Mama makes us watch this show much longer, I am going to get one . . .
LG: What would you get, Daddy?! Where would you put it?!
Jif: A stop sign. Right here (forehead).

One of the most-tattooed people that I've had the privilege to know well was a client. He was a young man who looked like, but wasn't, a skinhead. He "talked black," and walked with a very exaggerated swagger. Both arms were heavily tattooed. I did my best to resist judging him based on appearance, as he ambled into my office. As I got to know him, I discovered that he had one of the purest hearts I've encountered. What I thought was some kind of affected badass walk was actually the product of having had numerous cancerous tumors removed from his femur. The symbols, dates, etc., on his arms were in memory of his two babies who had died shortly after birth due to a rare chromosomal abnormality -- his genes and his wife's were very likely to result in this abnormality again, and they were pregnant again. So, he was the first person with whom I really "got" what tattooing is about for some people. Not an adornment, for some, but a way of telling their story. And I love when people tell their stories.

Recently, I've seriously considered "inking" myself to tell a story. I've mentioned here before how lymph nodes pop up and down like little bitty wack-a-moles. And I've thought that if I just "Sharpied" a circle around them when they pop up, I could show the docs exactly which ones are busy, and I can keep track of how often they emerge, etc. No?

My kid watched some Miami Ink with me over the weekend. Posterity may show that this was a bad idea. She's kind of into "ink" now. We've always done the rub-on tattoos, the face-painting and such. I'm not able to go out and do fun stuff with her like I used to, and will again soon, I hope. Thankfully, her Dad and our friends and family are good about that, so LG still has plenty of fun. On Sunday, a friend took her to a local street fair. She got "airbrushed" stencilled tattoos, including this one:

LG Ink

She is tremendously impressed with her own coolness right about now. She likes to pretend that this tattoo and the one on her arm (allegedly the Chinese symbols for "lucky") are real. She spent the other night with her grandparents, going out to dinner and breakfast with them, at which time she showed her tats to the waitress. Nana is something less than impressed with LG's coolness right about now. In fact, Nana is more like mortified that anyone would think her 10-year-old granddaughter is tattooed.

On Saturday, Jif and another Dad took LG's Girl Scout troop to the "Big Event," a GS Cookie pep rally of sorts. (Curiously, some of the girls couldn't go because it was Dads going instead of Moms. I find that sad and unfortunate.) The event featured all sorts of funstuff booths, including face-painting, done by older Scouts with varying degrees of skill.

True story: The "seasoned" face-painters had drawn up a design board, showing the selections that they could do for the girls, identified by number. LG chose #13, which was a stylized, winged, lightening bolt kinda thing. Turned out fine. Her friend, Roxie, wanted the same. Fly in the ointment: Between LG leaving the painting chair and Roxie occupying it, a new painter came on board. Roxie tells the new painter, "Give me #13, please."

Jif and the other Dad are standing by, but not paying too much attention. When Roxie comes over to show everyone, Jif says to her, "Oh, that's nice. Does that have some significance for you?"

"No, I just liked it when LG got it."

Hmmm. LG didn't get that. Jif tries again. "Is that your soccer jersey number?"

"What? I got a number thirteen..."

Jif gets it. "No, Roxie . . . you got THE number 13! You got a 1 and a 3!" Jif and the other Dad CRACK UP. Seriously, I know Moms would have laughed, but I think there would have been a little more sensitivity involved. Jif offered to help Roxie explain to the painter, and get a new one, but she declined. Poor girl walked around the rest of the day with a 13 on her face. At least it wasn't a tattoo.

37 heads are better than one . . .

Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

For some reason, my boy has never wanted his face painted. He politely declines every time. He loves him some tattoos though. Just the other day we put "TNT Fireworks" right on his arm.

Loved the post. I've wanted a "tat" for a long time, but never got one. I once considered choosing a design and then scrunching it up in the computer and printing it out. I'd take my "squashed skull" to the artist and when he'd question me on it I'd just say, "Well, over time, this puppy will stretch and by the time I get old, it'll actually look like a skull!" (you know, ‘cause I ain’t old just yet)

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

LG's "tat" is lovely! I've considered a tattoo, but not seriously. If I got one, it would be something small... like a heart or something.

The kids were all temporary tattoo'd up from the sitters over a two week period earlier this summer. When a rather large one showed up near Punkin's collarbone (in addition to the other FIVE she had), I ordered them all scrubbed off. They were getting too big and too numerous and I wanted my babies' regular skin color back.

If you do get a tat, Susie. I vote for a smallish, but distinct word: "Hope". ;)

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Heh... also, I joked about getting a tattoo when I was preggers... on my tummy, so that it would be really small when I wasn't pregnant anymore. ;)

Blogger Candace said...

I briefly considered getting a tattoo when I was in college. Then I found out that they use automobile paint.

Yeah, no thanks.

Plus, I'm like you: what if I hate it in three years? Or, more likely, three months?

I hope you're feeling well more than you're feeling crappy.

Blogger LadyBug said...

What a coincidence, that you and Torrie are both discussing tattoos today.

I guess tattoos are fine for some folks, but I'm like you about the permanence of them. I just don't think I wanna be a tattooed grandmother. Or great-grandmother.

Blogger MrsDoF said...

LG has some fancy artwork going on there!
It's kinda sad her friend was misunderstood--but that's a story for years to come.
I won't get a tattoo because for a whole year afterwards, no blood donations can happen. My next unit will be the gallon mark.

Blogger Nina said...

LOL, I love LG's tattoo, I need to get me one just like that. I don't have any and my husband doesn't like them. I am thinking it would be fun to come home with one like LG's and let him think it is real. Till I wash it off.
Shawna got a turtle on her shoulder when she turned 18 . . . she told me, I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs and I have to do something. So she got a tattoo. :) Not that I had any say since she was 18 ~ but out of all those things I’m glad she chose a tattoo. Six years later she still likes it.
I worked with a woman who had a butterfly tattooed on her lower abdomen. When she got pregnant and then found out it was twins. She carried those babies for 38 weeks. She got huge and the butterfly never looked like a butterfly again.

Blogger barbschellenberg said...

I love Miami Ink :) I am getting my first tattoo ever, of a butterfly, and it will be close to my "lady parts downstairs". I had cervical cancer twice and am now cancer free, so I thought it would be a great way to celebrate :)

Anonymous SoozieQ said...

That IS funny! 13 is my lucky number (that in itself probably explains a lot about me!!). That poor girl, though.

I'm deathly afraid of needles so unless they invent another way of doing it, I am NEVER getting one. GAH! It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it...and if my skin was crawling MID-tattoo, can you imagine what a whacked out tattoo I'd end up with?!?!

Blogger Dawn said...

For as long as I an remember,I was always into tattoos. Back when my grandfather and I were close, I would study his army done tattoos for hours, tracing them with my finger and always asking about them. I started asking my mother around age 16 if I could have her permission to get a tattoo, as the legal age was 18 then. "Absolutely not", of course, was her answer. On my 18th birthday, I got a small tattoo, that was done just because "I could" I have since covered it up with a new design.

I love all 3 of my tattoos, and plan on getting 5 more in the near future. They're really addictive :)

That's a really neat tattoo LG picked. How long do those stay on for?

Blogger Andrea said...

I've only seriously (even so, not TOO seriously) considered getting a tattoo in the last few years. Maybe something small, and not TOO visible, maybe on my ankle (though I'm told the ankle is a place that would hurt a LOT). But then I would have to tell my kids it was OK for me but I'm not going to let them, not until they are 18 anyway, and I don't think they'd appreciate that! :) But I do like LG's temporary one. Maybe I could get a temporary tat sometime (I'm considering getting some mehndi done on my pregnant belly!)

Blogger Effie said...

I've heard they are very addictive! Did you know that apparently all those really cute tattoos girls are getting just above their butt-cracks--at the base of their backs--are impeding them in getting epidurals when giving birth for fear of ink going into their spinal fluid when having it done?! Crazy eh?!

I personally have never watched Miami Ink and am trying in vain to stay away from it for fear of getting hooked to yet another show!

That one on LG's neck is cute, but don't let her get a real one too soon. Try out a henna tattoo first of the one you think of, then, if you get sick of it at all or want it changed, you'll KNOW how you want it!

Hugs my dear!

Blogger eclectic said...

I so relate to having your mother be horrified -- my own mom freaked out when I got my ears pierced... AT AGE 21. I can't imagine what she'd experience if my girlie showed up with a tat!!!

Personally, I think tats can be really attractive, and I've wished I could have one that would be like a piercing -- removable when I damn well please. But because removal is so complicated and rarely sucessful, I have not taken the plunge. See, I'm chicken and apparently have committment issues. Y'think I should see a counselor? ;)

Blogger dashababy said...

Too funny.
I used to work with a young women who was in love with a tattoo artist. By the time they broke up, she was covered in tattoos. I often wonder if she is still happy with all her tats that she got when she was only 21 years old. I'm like you Susie, what in the world would I want to put on my body for a lifetime? The mind is wandering here,,,, but I don't even like bumper stickers. I am fascinated by tattoos when they're done right, they're beautiful.

Blogger Lynn said...

Ink... an intersting subject. One I think alot about... not tattoos, just... ink. It records, stains, smells funny.

I ramble when I get hungry! Time to go - dinner calling!

Blogger Squirl said...

I have seen lots of tattoos that I really liked. However, I am never, ever going to ink my body. I have two sets of ear piercings and that's enough body art for me.

Anonymous Katy said...

That was a really nice story about the client with the tattoo...

I never liked tattoos because the first one I ever saw belonged to a very loud and crude man who scared me at the tender age of about 4.

The story about Jif taking LG to the Girl Scout event made me think about the time my father dressed me for my Brownie troop meeting. Instead of crossing and securing the neck thingy for my outfit, he tied it like a man's necktie. I don't know the name for that part of the outfit. I still have my beanie about 40 years later and can sing the "I've something in my pocket" song word for word.

Blogger Von Krankipantzen said...

I got a tattoo 15 years ago and I have NEVER regretted it. I love it because it represents a part of my personality. The nice part of tattooing is that you can go "public" with your tattoo or keep it "private". I think the key to loving your tattoo is for it to relate to part of your life. I plan on getting another tattoo when I am cancer free for 5 years.

Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

For several years I have considered have tattooed the Chinese symbols for “Peaceful Warrior” somewhere on my body. What prevents me is that I neither read nor speak Chinese. A friend of mine once bought a print that had what she was told were the Chinese characters for the words “love” and “joy.” It wasn’t until several years later that someone who could read Chinese explained to her that the symbols were, in China, what generally indicated a whorehouse. I must be careful if I am to have tattooed anything I cannot understand on my body.

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

I only have one tat right now (the guitar on my arm), and that's nine years old now. It still is pretty bright, for the most part, and I get compliments on it.

Am working on a rather elaborate design for my next piece, which will be considerably larger. I do love my ink!

Blogger JessicaRabbit said...

As someone with 8 tattoos, two of them quite large and two of them highly visable (one on each hand) my rule for getting ink is simple, pick something personal with meaning to you, NEVER get flash off a wall, and then when you make up your mind and you really really want it, wait for ONE YEAR.

If you still want it after a year, you will still want it once it is on your body. I have even waited several years to get a large piece done, just to be really sure.

I plan a new small arm piece I have wanted for about 3 years soon here, and a large piece for my lower back that I have wanted for about a year, plus some work on my feet as well. I would guess it will take me at least 3 years to get all of that done, I like to space it out and really enjoy the process.

Finding an artist to do your work that you really trust is the key. And then once you have that, you will always want more.

Blogger Susie said...

mrB, I don't think your tat plan will work. Unless you plan on getting really fat in the area of the squashed art. That would stretch it out. Otherwise, choose something that will look good when it droops :)

ck, I know, tats on kids, especially when they start to look real, that's a little disconcerting. We love their skin so much. You know, "hope" is a good idea. I didn't have a plan for what to get. I like words, especially that one. But I don't know where to get it. I find it curious these people who get things on their back as a "reminder" of someone or some idea. Something on my back wouldn't "remind" me at all. If I get one, I think it'll be for me, and I'll want to see it.

candace, yea, I can be very fickle, commitment-phobic, etc. I think Jess gives good advice about the waiting period, here.

ladybug, it is hard to imagine telling your grandbabies about your tattoos. hmmmm. I looked at Torrie's links. Ohmygoodness. A couple of those . . . may change the way I see things, some things . . .

mrsDoF, you are a good and generous person. Thanks for all the blood.

nina, I've thought of doing that to trick Jif, too. Glad Shawna still likes hers, and if LG avoids those other things in favor of a tat, I'll be thrilled. I can only imagine, if I'd been tattooed on my abdomen before pregnancy, whatever it was would look like a throw rug by now :0

barb, hurray for you! I hope you can post a pic, or at least write about it at length :)

soozieq, yea, skin-crawling tattoos wouldn't go over so well. I'm not SO much needle-phobic, after these past few months, but I've never been willing to suffer much for beauty.

dawn, my father had a tattoo, a bad, green one that he got in the army. To this day, I don't know what design it was supposed to be. Whenever I asked him what it was, he always said, "That's where your mother hit me with a frying pan." LG's tattoo still looked good about 3 days later, and then it came off with baby oil.

andrea, maybe trying out a temporary one is a way to go. I'll have to google mehndi, I don't know that.

effie, Miami Ink is a good show. There's another tattoo show, too, "Inked" I think, but I haven't seen it. LG will not have a real one for MANY years if ever. I had not heard about the epidural problems. Oy!

eclectic, yes, please see a counselor. I know one who'd love to see you :)

dashababymama, me, too, I've never had a bumper sticker! I enjoy seeing clever ones on other cars, but I can't commit my bumper! Maybe I should take a lesson from that...

lynn, ha, hope you had a nice dinner. I know, you SPILL ink over there :)

squirl, I only have one hole in each ear. The pain for beauty thing . . . maybe I'm meant to be an admirer or others' body art :)

katy, associations like that can be powerful and permanent. I have a beanie, too. And I must say to you, "I'm sure you couldn't guess it if you guessed a long, long while..."

kranki, I, we all, will be looking forward to your next tattoo :) That is definitely a story to be told.

ssnick, andrea, here, will verify the Chinese for you, I bet. I love the appearance of Chinese writing, but like you, am fearful of what I might be communicating. I won't even wear a t-shirt with Chinese symbols. I saw one I liked, which supposedly said "Peace," but I thought it might have said, "I am a jackass" or some such.

bucky, I love your guitar, I was hoping you'd stop in. Looking forward to seeing your next one :)

jess, I didn't know you had that many. Show us pix of them and tell us what they're about? Or is that too personal? I think your advice is very good, about the waiting.

Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

I ain't plannin' on it, it's just happening.

I think I'm starting to believe all the "America is so freakin' obese" stuff I hear on the news. At least my gut believes it.

Blogger Squirl said...

This is slightly off-topic, but SSNick mentioning that he's leary of wearing a foreign language he can't read reminded me of something from my teenage years.

I went on a school trip to Mexico. As I was sixteen at the time, meeting boys was a fun part of the trip. One that my friends and I met was a really sweet guy. But it was all the rage for kids in Saltillo, at least, to wear shirts with English on them.

Well, we did him the favor of translating his for him. It read, "Instant sex, have you got a minute?" Poor guy was so embarrassed he never wore it again. Still makes me chuckle.

Blogger WILLIAM said...

Hi Susie. I loved this story. I have a tattoo on my ankle that never got completed because I was alergic to the ink. I still get flare ups 12 years later. It is never pleasent. Now I have what I consider a partial story on my leg.

Anonymous OddMix said...

I would have soooooo laughed out loud in his place! #13 indeed.

Blogger Andrea said...

Mehndi (if I'm spelling it right) is just the Indian art of henna-ing your body :) I don't think they traditionally do pregnant bellies, but there is something of a subculture of women who love all things pregnancy and birth (that would be me) for whom it is more common.

Anonymous lawbrat said...

I've thought about a tattoo many times, and have yet to get one. I'd want a small one, a place where it wouldnt show while/if I was in a court room in front of a judge.

So far, no tat for me.

The boys' dad has one, a large one on his bicep of the boys' names.

Hunter wants a tattoo, and many piercings. He will not have them. Nope. Unless he's 18, and like Nina's daughter ;-)

Blogger Momentarily_Distracted said...

I lurve Miami Ink!

Tattoos are addictive.

What would you get?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got a butterfly on my left ankle! I've thought about getting something else (small mind you) that incorporates my daughters and music but I've never seen anything I love like my butterfly so I'll prob'ly stick with that! Funny about that number 13 tho! MWAH!

Blogger Twixie said...

# 13, that is too funny... you just can't make this stuff up.

Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

No tats! Someday when you are 75 or so, you will think, "Why did I do that?" I mean, by then, your tatoo might be really saggy or something....

Anonymous sheryl said...

I once thought of getting a tattoo. I think the idea I liked best was an infinity symbol over my heart, in one, hairline thin, white line. So it would be barely, if at all, ever visible.

The other idea I liked was to put a kyric or poem or prayer, in one line of fine, thin script, around my waist. In maybe a shade of neary-nude pink.
I could never decide on the exact text I wanted.
- - - -

"Hug your dog a lot!"
As you already know, that's my 4 year old niece's advice for you to help you get well quicker.

Will Biscuit, the VBD, comply??

Blogger Susie said...

mrB, my thighs believe it, too :0

squirl, meeting boys is always a fun part of the trip ;) That is funny; people are too trusting with their T-shirt inscriptions.

william, that is just sad. So you have a . . .prologue, or a foreword on your ankle, rather than a story...

oddmix, yea, I'm pretty sure that was the highlight of the day for the Dads.

andrea, OK, I found it. I'm glad you're so enjoying your pregnancy. It is a miraculous time, meant to be thoroughly enjoyed. I will always be so thankful I got to do it (all the way through) once.

peaches, I couldn't help but think of tattoos I'd like to see on the boys' dad's forehead . . . but that's not nice. I like Nina's daughter's story, too. If my kid makes it that far without doing other "crazy" things, I'll go with her to get her tattoo, if she wants. Hell, maybe I'll even get one with her.

MoDis, isn't it great? I can't think of an image; if I got one now, it might be a word, like Hope . . . or something else . . .

traci, I'll bet your butterfly is pretty :)

twixie, story of my life . . . can't make this stuff up if I tried. And it's NICE to see you :)

hoss, OR maybe the key is waiting until you're over 75 to get your tattoo. Think about it...

sheryl, I like that! I like the script, and I like the barely visible, so that only those "closest" could read . . . anyone else would think, "does she or doesn't she . . ." The VBD will totally cooperate with the hugging plan. He's cuddly. He's chubby and cuddly. When he was found in the state park, he was fully grown and weighed about 17 pounds. He now weighs over 30. Very huggable, he is.

Blogger judypatooote said...

Very funny story.....when i went to Disneyworld with my grandkids Pete and his cousin got the airbrush tattoo.....his whole face was covered, and it cost $12.oo. What ever happened to the #1.00 face painting? But they were happy.....at least 13 had a story to tell.....

Anonymous Barb said...

How about your own inspirational rat's ass tattoo? Just thinking about you and praying for some good news soon.

Blogger Bone Machine said...

That Miami Ink marathon was being broadcast on a day of recovery after a road trip. I don't bounce back quite like I used to do, so I stayed in bed and watched many hours of tattoos.

There was a time when I really felt the calling to get a sun tattoo like the one across the back of Henry Rollins and on the cover of the Rollins Band's The End Of Silence. That image means a lot to me and there are days when I still briefly consider it.

My fear of needles and trying to avoid the sensation of folks engraving shit into my skin.


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