A long time ago in the 80s when conservatism was rampant, the only reasonable thing to do was to rebel against the establishment. Thankfully this usually meant wearing a variety of patterns, mismatched socks, and nail polish with dots and stripes. These things, of course, are the norm now, but then they were the hallmarks of New Wave Weirdos. I was a card-carrying member.
As a weirdo, I was always somewhat attracted to the idea of a tattoo. At that time, like multiple piercings and sex before marriage, only BAD people got tattoos. These were the roughest of the rough, the outcasts, or the former military personnel who desecrated their temples on leave. It seemed like the nail in the coffin of “I’m not normal; suck it up.”
However, like all things of this ilk, it requires a commitment. That, my friends, is really hard for me. After all, how do you select that one icon that symbolizes you that you will want to wake up to for the next 80+ years of your life? If you’re me, and you’re a bit ADD, you can’t. I mean, I’m whimsical, but can you see me, at my age, with an Oscar the Grouch tattoo? What about Lucy Van Pelt or, heaven forbid, some sort of Eastern Mystical symbol that I think symbolizes me (the pretentious me, that is)?
As I grew older, I still considered it. Sometimes the pull was amazing. Yet, whatever I would get, I would have FOREVER. Have I mentioned that I have trouble with “fidelity”? Hell, I don’t even have an official wedding ring. Strangely, I wear the same 3 rings all the time on my left hand. On my right, however. Well that depends on my whims.
Come the mid-90s and tattoos were ubiquitous. While they may not have been EVERYWHERE they sure as hell seemed like it. All of a sudden they were mainstream and, like a pair of pink Pink sweats from Victoria’s Secret, everyone had one. You couldn’t hit the mall without seeing low-riser jeans and the “California Tramp Stamp” (also known as the California License Plate). The small of the back, it seems, is a sexy place to be tattooed (if you look like Brittany Spears). So everyone was, whether they looked like Tyler Perry’s Madea or Miley Cyrus.
Still, every once in a while, I give it thought. I think about a single mushroom on my wrist to signify Sisterhood of the Shrooms (you know, kept in the dark and fed sh*t) for teachers everywhere. Then I consider a cracked pot on my left forearm so people shall know me when they see me. I often think about a hill, a boulder, and Sisyphus — however, I doubt tattoos should be obscure (I think it undermines the whole point of it) or ironic.
These days I’m pretty committed to NOT having one. I figure should my husband or child ever need to identify my remains, they could start by asking for the one WITHOUT a tattoo. Given the current atmosphere, I think I belong to a minority. However, as I get older I start to see the trauma of having one. While I obviously don’t have an issue with body modification for the purpose of vanity (pierced ears anyone?), I have come to accept the idea of not changing my “temple” (although truly ink is less harmful than sugar to my temple). There’s something appealing about a clean slate of skin — at least to me.
If tattoos were a rebellion against the conservative nature of our parents, I wonder if the next generation will reject tattoos as a mark of their parents? Will our hippee stage lead to a new Regan state?