Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tattoos I Almost Got But Thankfully Didn't: Cherries, a Daisy Chain Around My Ankle, a Bird, Numerous Quotes

In 1970-something my parents went out on a Saturday night, leaving my brother and me with a teenager named David from down the street. What I remember most about this night is that I wanted to watch Mary go blind on "Little House on the Prairie" but David made us watch a PBS show on Jesus instead. Later that night my mom crept into my room. I have something I want to show you, she said, and then in the small arc of my nightlight she pulled her skirt down or her dress up--not sure which--and there on her butt cheek was a tattoo of a palm tree on a tropical island. Your dad has one just like it! In my memory I did not see my dad's tattoo, though I may have borrowed a bit of Mary's blindness for the occasion, stigmata of the something-you-can-never-un-see.This was not my dad's first tattoo. On his right bicep he had the blurry blue words "Born to Lose" with a few wayward dice scattered about. There was a chin-up bar in one of the doorways at our house and as a kid I used to watch him do one-armed pull-ups and think this was what it meant to "roll the dice." Years later he covered that tattoo with another one, a carmine colored poppy, but I often wish I remembered the faces of those dice. Were they loaded? Shaved? Snake eyes? Or were the pips simply random? (Note to self: ask.)
I got my first tattoo at 20. A dolphin on my ankle. And as if that wasn't bad enough a few years later I added the Chinese symbol for water right next to it, the inked equivalent of branding "the early 90's" into my skin, as good as supergluing palazzo pants onto my legs and a choker around my neck. Oh well, I think now, it was a time, and then I lick my finger to rub some spit into it, not entirely sure if the Chinese symbol means running water or stagnant.
My brother has his and his wife's initials intertwined on his forearm, a romantic gesture for the last hold out in our tattooed family. All of us now inked. Of course my parents are now divorced, and while I do not like to ever think about my mom and dad's butts per se, I do, sometimes, like to think about their tattoos, matching palm trees like some sort of microchip that says here, yes, this one and that one, these are your parents. Tropical islands tattooed more than 30 years ago on what was surely a cold, foggy San Francisco night.

When Zoey was born I had her name tattooed on the inside of my wrist in typewriter font, the best thing I will ever write, I said. Or thought. Whatever. Bryan doesn't have any tattoos, doesn't plan on getting any. And Zoey, well, yeah. She's 4. Who knows what she will want to do when she is an adult? But for now I can tat them up this way, with the Tattoo Shop iphone app. Because it's fun. Because nothing is cuter than telling Zoey to show me her muscles. Because I can write booger across Bryan's face when he leaves his dirty cereal bowl out on the counter to harden. That's why.

8 comments:

mosey said...

Tattoos have been on my mind lately, how did you know? I've been toying with designs for my (probably one and only) tattoo for... oh... ten years now? I finally have decided what I want (also on the inside of my wrist) and now I just need to go and do it.

Thanks for the push. (glad you didn't get the daisy chain...)

Richie Designs said...

that first picture of Zoey made my day. gotta check out that app!

Ciara Obscura said...

Swear to freakin' god, your writing makes me whoop (is that even a verb?)every time I have the extreme pleasure of reading it. Everything from the blinded Mary on Little House to branding the 90's on your skin resonates a little more than it should. (and with a husband who is a tattoo artist, man, we've seen a shitload of that 90's awesomeness.)
Anyway... this made my day. Thank you

Erin said...

Oh, but how I wish we had just iPhoned our cheesy ugly tatoos (or maybe just mine is now cheesy and ugly) onto our photos instead of onto our ankles almost two decades ago. Instead, I now have an almost 20-year-old butt ugly seahorse from the early 90's that just laughs at me when I wear sandals. Why didn't we talk each other out of this?

DREAMER'S DEN said...

no tatts here, but my husband and his son got tattoos to "match". His son is a junior; john got a roman numeral one on his hip; jack got a roman numeral two on his chest.
i think it's cool.

Aunt_B said...

Oh how I wish I had the ninety's dolphin on my ankle. Instead, I have three sassy daisies with a nice tribal design in the background. Not quite a chain, but close enough.

Aw how I miss palazo pants, mine was a palazo pant jumpsuit and I wore the crap outta it!!

Up Mama's Wall said...

I got the '90s dolphin on my stomach at age 20. As soon as I got it I realized it looks as if it's diving right into my crotch.

beachbungalow8 said...

KKG on the ankle and go dog go on my abdomen. thankfully I got neither.