The first tattoo I remember was a great-uncle who had a Popeye-like anchor on his forearm. It was dark blue and sort of faded, and I wondered where and why he got it. Because he was a chain smoker with a loud, barking cough whenever he spoke I never asked him about it, thinking that he would cough up a lung with his answer.
When I went to fashion school, one of my friends got a tattoo of a red and white polka dot mushroom on the top of her hand. Mushrooms were very desirable back then to everyone but her parents, who paid top dollar at her painful expense to have it removed before we graduated. What kept me from getting a wide-eyed owl (my then-fascination) inked on me was the fear that my own not-so-tolerant parents would want to remove it themselves with a dull knife.
Wingman and I went to a wedding where the bride and groom were counselors at a rehab center and their guests included some very pierced and tattooed friends. Wingman and the other guests at our table were rather loud in their disapproval of the women next to us. I however, was utterly fascinated, especially by a redhead in a strapless dress with her entire body tattooed. Among the pieces, she had a hand grenade on one side of her neck and Chuckie on the other. I went over and introduced myself. I had to know: why Chuckie and not Barbie? Why a hand grenade and not a palm tree? Does she ever wonder what those tattoos will look like when she's in her 80's and Chuckie looks like a squished doll run over by a bus?
A couple of weeks ago I was down on the boardwalk having lunch with a friend. Virtually everyone smearing Coppertone on their bodies had tattoos-from women with small ones tucked into the sides of their bikini bottoms, to guys with tribal bands, full sleeves and more. For conversation, I brought up the subject of maybe getting a tattoo myself. "Why would you put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari?" he questioned. Perhaps because I think of myself as more of a Chevy kind of gal. One with junk in the trunk and dents in the fenders. So maybe a tattoo of my cute granddaughters placed ever-so-carefully to cover up the dimples in my cellulite...
In reality, if I ever get one, I want a tattoo that inspires conversation. When my oldest was in Florida for college baseball spring training, we took him and some of his teammates to dinner. Our waitress had a Chinese symbol on the nape of her neck. He was studying Chinese, and casually said to her "Yes you are". She looked at him quizzically and he said "Your tattoo. It means beautiful and you are." She was butter in his hands after that, and that's the kind of tattoo I would want. But I fear ending up like Brittney Spears who thought she was getting a tattoo that said "Mysterious" and in reality said "Strange".
Then again, maybe I'll just keep looking at the pages of tattoos on Pinterest, checking out the people on the beach and watching repeats of Miami Ink to satisfy my urge. If that's not enough, I'll watch Tattoo Nightmares where people pay good money to fix bad tattoos.
Because I'm still afraid that if I got one, my mother would want to remove it with one of her dull knives.