Monday, July 22, 2013

I Really Regret My Tattoo

A Mother Life


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of enough tattoos must eventually regret one of them.

I have several tattoos, and managed to escape regretting them for a number of years. I’m particularly proud of that because I got my first couple of tattoos at 14, an age when, by all rights, I should have ended up letting some drunken 16-year-old etch a crudely drawn dick onto the small of my back with a safety pin and some Indian ink. He would, of course, have told me was a kitten.

But because I had parental consent, I got to go to an actual tattooist and ended up with some pretty good tattoos – even though I only got the one to piss off a chick at school who slept with (or, in retrospect, probably just claimed she slept with) a guy I liked, and the other one, well, I can’t remember why I got that one at all.

Why did I get this emblazoned on my flesh for the rest of my life? Who knows? Who cares? Not me!

Later in life, I got some more tattoos I really ought to regret, like that one of a pool shark that looks a bit  like Jabberjaw, but I kind of like that about it, because the whole point of being a pool shark is that nobody can tell you’re a pool shark.

Also, it's clearly female. You can tell from the eyelashes.

I’m also not real clear on why I got a tattoo of my high school mascot. On the one hand, high school crushed my will to live. On the other hand, my high school mascot was a buccaneer, which is a fancy word for pirate, so now everyone thinks I’m some kind of badass with an awesome pirate tattoo. Okay, honestly, I just wanted an excuse to get a pirate tattoo, but I secretly feel like a dork because the pirate in question is my high school mascot.

My high school mascot carries a knife in its teeth, though, that's pretty rad.
But the one tattoo that I really regret is this one:



It says, “Mountaineers are always free,” in Latin. It’s the West Virginia state motto, which we adopted to reflect our desire to become a free state and remain with the Union when we separated from Virginia in the midst of the Civil War. I got it when I was living in France and I didn’t think I’d ever move back to West Virginia.

I didn’t start regretting the tattoo until after I returned to the U.S., because French is a Latinate language so most French speakers can puzzle it out for themselves. But now that I’m back in the States, I can’t go any fuckin’ where without some rando asking me, “What does your tattoo mean?” 

And no, I don't mean native West Virginians; they never ask because they already know what it means. So I can’t just tell the rando what it means and leave it at that; I have to also explain why I got the tattoo, which leads them to all kinds of insulting conclusions about my genealogy, level of educational attainment and general intellect.  


So now whenever anyone asks, I just say, “It means, ‘Ask me about my tattoo.’”                                       

20 comments:

  1. Oh Marjorie,

    I think you're the first person I know to come out and say "tattoo" and "regret" in the same sentence. Most people would probably never admit it.

    I'm one of the few people with no tattoos. It's more common now to see full sleeves of tattoos or legs of them. I've read entire graphic novels on someone's arm.

    I suppose I never got one because I believe everything to be impermanent. What struck me as so cool way back when no longer registers, and nothing is symbolically that meaningful to me.

    One good thing for your tats, you got a blog post out of it. Yay. ;)
    eden

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    1. I know, I feel a little weird having my few little tattoos when everyone else has their whole body covered in huge freaking murals. Whatevs. After a while it becomes just another body part.

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  2. Like Eden, I also have no tattoos. I've thought about it, but ultimately I'm not prepared to commit to one for the rest of my life - and I think it might be unfaithful to me as I get older by daring to look shabby and faded.

    Also, nothing puts you off the permanence of tattoos like an ex-husband with your name tattooed on his arm. Lucky for him it's Elvish (don't ask, although it DID look nice). I wonder what he said when his second wife asked him what it meant? :-)

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    1. Ha ha ha ha the first rule of tattoos is NO NAMES unless the person is a blood relative and even then it's best if they're dead. But it's not a commitment in the traditional sense -- it's not like marrying someone and having them sit around clipping their toenails in the kitchen and bitching every time you buy a new dress and saying things like "Should you be eating that?" every time you have a dessert. Once you get it you can pretty much forget about it. Unless everyone keeps asking you about it, that is.

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  3. I actually have two tattoos and was thinking about getting a "Latin motto" as my third but, you raise an interesting point. Having to explain what it means over and over again would get tiresome pretty quickly. Great post, Marjorie!

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    1. Yeah, I mean I'd never get a tattoo in a language that I didn't understand, but I thought it would be okay because I was certain I knew what it meant (I'm secretly convinced that those people who get tattoos in Chinese are walking around with "asshole" written on them). But I didn't count on no one else knowing what it meant. So definitely consider that before you decide to get a Latin motto tattoo.

      Glad you liked the post! Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

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    2. Not "asshole"
      It says "sweet & sour chicken" ..
      ;-)

      I've got a poorly drawn horse ..with wings.. and a horn. Couldn't make up my newly-legally-allowed-to-get-a-tattoo mind.

      ~PolishSpring

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  4. OMG!!! I have the same moon tattoo on my hip, except it is in color and doesn't have the face, but other than that they are identical. When I was pregnant it grew into a banana!

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    1. I've got one of a lizard right around my belly button that's probably going to turn into a big ol' wrinkly dinosaur if I ever get pregnant.

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  5. The only tattoo I regret is the one I got when I was 15 and positive that I didn't want Any kids. It's a rose on my tummy.

    2 kids later, it looks like a Rorschach painting. I hate it.

    Hugs!

    VALERIE

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    1. I bet! I'm still positive I don't want kids, good thing too...

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  6. HA! this is one of my favorites! And I love the recollections of your inner-justifications for what I personally do consider awesome tattoos for all of the above reasons. I was never huge on words in tattoos, especially foreign ones, but I suck at foreign languages and memory: but at the same time, who cares if anybody else can read your tattoo at a strip mall: it's yours, in the language you feel, and you're in the cool club, because Latin and French are both secret languages to most or me.

    I have one tattoo, but it's Saint Christopher, and I figured when I got it as a talisman, eventually, I'd just have to accept he's really there, all the time, with me - all and none puns admitted

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  7. Never mind the regrettable tattoos, you just quoted (sort of) some Jane Austen up in here!

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    1. I was wondering when you were going to notice!

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  8. I have 8 and I'm about to get a 9th. I only regret one...my first one, on my ankle. It's an old high school/college nickname - speedy gonzalez (don't ask, unless I'm drunk).

    I dig the pirate 1 and the moon one (the first one).

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    1. Speedy Gonzalez the cartoon character? Sounds regrettable. Cartoon characters almost always are.

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  9. I have 2, I don't regret either but I was very careful of placement and subject. ;)
    Thanks for being my hooker!

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  10. I don't have any. But if I did, it'd be a yin yang, probably on the inside of my wrist. I once met a guy in New York whose entire chest had a pug face tattooed on it. How's that for regret? Date much?

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  11. To conclude, now you should understand that tattooing is not something that you should teach to yourself. go here

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