Nice Girl: Tattoo Me
I cannot believe how many people have tattoos. Not because I have any moral or aesthetic objections to ritualistic body scarring, mind you. Quite the contrary. I'm considering getting a tattoo myself. But that's the point: Considering it. Mulling it over. Ruminating. Agonizing. How can these people be so resolute? So sure of themselves? So -- drunk?I mean, let's face it, this thing does not come off with a little nail polish remover and elbow grease. This shit is permanent.The first big hurdle is geography: Where am I going to put it? A common theme has emerged among my tattooed friends: Place the tattoo where you can expose it if you want, but can cover it up discreetly for things like job interviews and first dates with stockbrokers. Good plan.I sort of like the upper arm, but it seems a little too butch, like I may as well just go ahead and get an anchor tattooed on me, or the word "Mother." And the peek-a-boo breast tattoo is just a little too sex kittenish. It sets up exciting, kinky bedroom expectations that I simply won't be able to fulfill.So I've decided on a kind of lower-calf, upper-ankle deal. This seems to fit all the criteria. It's sexually non-specific. And if I want to cover it up, I can just wear pants. Of course, I'll have to keep up a pretty strict leg shaving regime, but I guess I can handle that.The next big consideration, obviously, is what the tattoo will actually be. Pop culture references, while tempting, are always dicey. Take the cool Batman t-shirt I found about seven years ago in Ocean City. It was a quite a find. That, of course, was the year before the first big, Batman blockbuster came out. Batman no longer represents a kitschy crime show from the 60s. It's an advertisement for corporate Hollywood. I'll take a pass.And no, I'm not one to fall into the hopelessly romantic, "Winona Forever" mode. I'm more of the keep-my-name, separate-checking account, prenuptial-agreement school of romance. Hardly the stuff of poetry.If not words, what about symbols? I racked my brain trying to think of a symbol that best represents my true nature and I came up empty. A typewriter? Too retro. A cup of coffee? Too Seattle. A cello? Too pretentious. I was stumped. I think I'm hierogrypically challenged.So I settled upon something decorative. I made some doodles on a piece of scrap paper. I liked this one drawing that was sort of like a sun with a plus sign in the middle. I took out a Sharpie pen (checking to make sure the ink was non-toxic, natch) and drew it above my ankle. Okay, yes, I know this is deeply lame. Probably, indeed, the only thing dorkier than getting one of those temporary tattoos is drawing one on your own leg. Just for the record, I wasn't trying to fool people. I wasn't going around saying, "Hey, check out my crazy new tattoo." I just wanted to get a sense of what it was like to look down and see this foreign image on my leg. To be honest, it kept startling me.The next issue was a big one: the pain. See, I have an extremely low threshold for pain. I'm a three-Advil, load-me-up-with-Novocain kinda gal. When they say, "You're just going to feel a prick," I feel a stab. When I bite my tongue, I make an extremely big deal out of it -- sometimes, tears are actually shed. And I've been told that where the skin is taut and there's not much muscle (i.e. the upper ankle) is the most painful place to get a tattoo. A nice fleshy place like the butt (no way; not on your life) would be better.I asked my (slightly arm-adorned) boyfriend Wil to simulate the sensation of getting a tattoo. He dug his nails into my flesh."Ouch!" I shrieked. "It really hurts that much?""Yeah," he responded. "And once you start, you really can't stop."I try to picture my sun without the plus sign in the middle. Definitely a work interrupted.But I can deal with the pain. The thing I simply may not be able to deal with is my mother. Mom, you see, lives here in Maryland with me. And she's very involved in my life. So there can be no letter with a breezy, "P.S. -- Got a tattoo! Looks great! See ya over the holidays" at the end. When Mom saw the drawing on my leg she was mortified."What have you done?" she gasped.It was then that I realized I could've saved myself a hassle if I'd just gone and done it. Just shown up with the damn thing. There's no way she could've stopped it. Her wrath would've been painful, but short-lived. I would've just felt a prick.Instead, I've now given Mom time to try and talk me out it. This included the following time-honored and well-worn mother technique: "How would you like it if I got a tattoo?" she demanded."Frankly, that would be weird, Ma.""You're going to be 50 one day, too. I know that's hard for you to believe."I hesitated. Weighing my options: "Would it make any difference if the tattoo actually said 'Mother'?" I improvised.She's taking it under advisement.