Wednesday, October 03, 2007

You asked for it .....

… so here goes. I’m not sure the story of the tattoos is really that interesting, although in hindsight, it did involve scary-biker-men who didn’t speak English and prostitutes, so maybe it’s a little out of the ordinary after all.

Everyone knows in life, that if you want a child, or even better, a rebellious teen or young adult, to do something, just tell them that they can’t. Such used to be the case with tattoos in Oklahoma when I was growing up. Oklahoma was the last state to legalize tattooing (at least I *think* it’s legal now) but when I was growing up, tattoo parlors were illegal. That doesn’t mean they didn’t exist, but I am nothing if not a rule follower, so was never willing to go to any of the unregulated, “underground” tattoo parlors in the city. Not that I even knew where any were. Because, yeah. I’m pretty much NOT in the cool crowd, so wouldn't have even known where to go. But like every other young adult from Oklahoma who was told she COULD NOT GET A TATTOO ABSOLUTELY NOT ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND IT’S AGAINST THE LAW, MISSY, I always wanted one.

So when Blaine and I traveled to Germany on vacation (1994, maybe?) to visit his brother and sister-in-law, I got a wild hair to get a tattoo. What better holiday souvenir, right? So one night, Blaine and his brother left for a boy’s night out, and no, it didn’t actually INVOLVE prostitution, at least not in the sense that anyone paid for or received sexual favors, of course not …. But let’s just say that prostitution is a very above-board, legitimate profession where they lived and since Blaine had never actually stepped foot in a house of ill repute, especially a classy house of ill repute, he JUST HAD to go see what all the fuss was about. In other words, gawk at pretty, scantily-clad women. Sort of like eating at Hooters in this country, only with way more potential. So off they went.

My sister in law and I went out and shot a few games of pool (Who am I, The Female Hustler?) and then headed to the local parlor. I kept thinking about how cool this would be, to get a tattoo in a foreign country. I thought about what a great souvenir it would be, and thought about what a neat story it would make. What I *didn’t* think about, unfortunately, is what image I wanted to get tattoo’d on my body. Which meant I had to make my choice from the selection they had at the shop.

Oh, my.

Skull heads with bleeding eye sockets, naked women on the backs of Harleys, she-devils, fire-breathing dragons, etc. ….. shockingly, no Polly Pockets or Care Bears anywhere. Seriously, not one single image I was willing to have permanently placed upon my body. My sister in law suggested one of those Chinese sayings, maybe the sign for “love” or “happiness”, but I’ve always been a little suspicious that some tattoo artist with a warped sense of humor would put the sign for “gullible asshole” on me, and that just wasn’t a chance I was willing to take.

So I decided to design my own tattoo, perhaps not the best idea for two reasons. Well, three. One, I have no artistic talent whatsoever. Two, the artists, big scary German bikers guys, were waiting for me and not the most patient in the world. I’m not very quick on my feet so had trouble coming up with anything original under the gun like that. Three, and perhaps most importantly, neither of the gentlemen spoke any English.

I decided on getting my initial, the letter “K”, in a nice cursive script, with a trail of roses curving around the back (straight line) of the “K”. Personal, simple, feminine, what could go wrong? I wanted the tattoo on my waist area so it wouldn’t be readily visible, that much I knew. I got into position on the chair-recliner thing, and he got started. Naturally, I couldn’t see what he was doing. My sister-in-law, who is a very artistic type of person, kept making these strange faces, and saying things like, “Oh, yes, I see. That’s, yes … oh, um, ok.” I guess things weren’t going well.

When he finished, I assume he asked if I liked it, but since I spoke no more German than he spoke English, I couldn’t be sure, so I just paid him and left. We headed back to the bar where we had been playing pool earlier, where Blaine and his brother were now waiting for us, in very high spirits for some reason. I guess staring at pretty women will do that.

“Well, did you get it?” Blaine asked. Proudly, I lifted my shirt on the side of my waist and showed off my new design. It was met with silence for a few seconds, then Blaine blurted out, “It looks like a cattle brand.”


I went into the bathroom to take a closer look, and sure enough, because I had been stretched out on my side when he did the tattoo, the “K” looked more like an “X” when I stood up. And instead of a delicate trail of lovely English roses, he put one big fat rose down at the bottom.

Truly, one of the ugliest tattoos ever done. And perhaps the worst vacation souvenir EVER.

A few weeks later, acknowledging that I couldn’t live with the cattle brand the way it was, Blaine drove me to Texas for some “repair” work. (Yep, gotta love having no legal tattoo parlors in the entire freaking state.) We stopped at the first shop we saw across the border, and I explained my dilemma to the artist there. He tried, bless his little inked heart, I know he tried, but I think he made it worse. He added clouds above and a rainbow going through the initial, going for a sort of happy-aura scene, but to this day, it just looks like a big fat ugly cattle brand with clouds, a rainbow, and a blobby rose, all discombobulated and slapped on my waist. Of course, I blame the tattoo for the fact I will never be hired as a bikini model, therefore, there’s no real need to diet. So in the end, it has served me well, don’t you think?

But I still wasn’t happy. I wanted a tattoo that would look nice, darn it, a tattoo I could show off with pride! So for my 30th birthday, we spent the weekend in Dallas with a group of friends, and I treated myself to another one. This time, I went to a very well-known parlor in Deep Ellum called Tiggers. I had my image selected already (hey, I wasn’t making the same mistake twice) and knew right where I wanted it. For that tattoo, I got two blue dolphins chasing each other round in circles, sort of a yin-yang design, on the small of my back. Let me just tell you that even someone as chubby as me does not have a lot of fat on the small of my back and that one? Stung just a wee bit. But, it's also served me well since every time I've ever given birth, the anesthesiologist just aims for the middle of the circle for the epidural --- automatic target practice.

The things is, tattoos are addictive. Ask anyone. (see, also: deep fried foods) So after Kendrie was born, I was ready to get another. I was 33, living in Ohio, and was well-ensconced in my Americana-country-treasure-folk-art decorating phase. So I selected an Americana heart, which I like to this day. I also felt a bit more daring, so had it put on my left shoulder. You can see it when I wear a swimsuit, or a shirt with straps, if I have my hair up.

At that point, I felt done. I wouldn’t mind getting a few more, except I’m not willing to get one anyplace that is highly visible. I think they look cool wrapped around ankles and biceps, but not for me. I wear shorts in the summer, dresses to church and work (when I used to work) and personally, don't want a tattoo that would be easily seen. I like thinking that I’m somewhat discreet with them, even though to some people I imagine that defeats the purpose.

I still like them, and I’m glad I got them. Well, not the ugly cattle brand one, but the other two are fine. I do wish that I had gotten, however, and encourage my kids all the time, if *they’re* ever going to get a tattoo, to get a temporary one. Six months or eight months or however long those things last would have been long enough for me. I could have put one in a more visible location had it been temporary. I don’t regret mine, but don’t feel the need to have them on my body until I’m wrinkled and bent over in a nursing home. But I will, because even more than that I don’t feel the need to go through the time and expense of having them removed. Am I sorry I got them now that I'm older, as anti-tattoo people always predict? No. Would I get them again if I could go back in time? Eh, probably not. Although I probably would, just to prove my point about being told NOT TO DO SOMETHING my whole life.

Next time I go to Germany, though, I’m bringing home a beer stein or nice cuckoo clock.


Jeri from Hawaii said...

I love the story abut the tattoos. I almost got one when I was in Germany...after reading your story I am really glad I didn't! Part of me still wishes I had been courageous enough to do it, but face it, I am a chicken. I have fallen back into lurker status, but rest assured I still check in every single day. Keep those stories coming, often you are the highlight of my day (what does that say about my life?!)

Katie said...

They are addicting, which is ironic considering how fricking painful they are (I have 2, I call them my quiet rebellion since no one ever sees them).

Your Germany story reminds me of when I was studying abroad and a friend of mine woke up the morning after his 21st birthday with a tattoo of some line in Greek (we were in Greece) on his shoulder and had no recolection of getting it. And worse yet, he had to have a professor translate it for him since none of us were that fluent in the language. Whoops.

Amy Grosso said...

Hi Krisite,
I have never ever been a tattoo person, not that I ever cared if someone else had them but not me never, ever......well until Bella was dx with leukemia, that whole thing changed so much about me and after 2 1/2 years of treatment and losing so many wonderful children to cancer I just had to end her treatment with something just for me, a reminder of sorts.
So I did it, I now have a beautiful butterfly tattoo in pink and purple with the letter B on the wing, and I am so proud of it, my tattoo is on my right ankle, the outside of it, the butterfly represents all kids who have, had or have died from cancer, the pink and purple are Bella's and our very special friend Brittany (she passed a year ago) favorite colors and of course the B for both their names.
If you get bored you can go to BElla's website and go into the journal history to June 4 2007 and catch a nice photo of my tat!!
Isabella's Page

Anonymous said...

I am really luckly about my tatoos (3) one on inside of ankle (a scottish thistle), one on inside of wrist (a purple dragonfly) and one going around my right wrist(vine of flowers in the colours of my children's birth stones). I totally love them and am so addicted to them. Not bad, since I got my first one when I was 47. 3 in 2 years, not bad huh. My stories were totally normal as I live in Toronto and tatoo parlours are absolutely everywhere and every one has at least one. Can't wait till the next one (and we know there will be a next one).

Nancy from Toronto, Canada

Grandma J said...

Well, so much for discreet and wearing dresses to church because I'm sure half the congregation reads your blog...discreetly of course!
What a funny story! I have never even considered a tattoo until I turned sixty, and I find myself checking out other people's looking for something cute but nothing yet.
I guess it would be asking too much for just a peek of the K with the rose, clouds and rainbow?

Olivia said...

I have four tattoos (but tattooed 5 times, one had to be redone) and I will get more in the future, I'm sure. The ones I like best are ones that represent something special in my life.

I encourage anyone who wants a tattoo to get one as long as they 1)choose, in advance, something they LOVE!, 2)place it somewhere they can cover if need be, and 3)it's great to get one to commemorate a special event or person.

The Running Girl said...

I admire your courage for getting a tatoo. I don't like it when entire bodies are covered in tatoos, but I think tatoos done in a nice way look good. I wouldn't mind getting one, but I hate needles and can't stand pain. I'm not sure I could tolerate it. Maybe one day I'll get the courage.

M, Ms. R, Mom, Auntie M, Marey said...

Loved the tattoo stories...have you seen mine? Although temporary, I am sporting a signature :)

Amy Fournier said...

I just love your stories kristie. I too was told by my father that I could not have a tatoo but his words were "not while you are living under my roof." I was 28 when I moved out and got married. I told my husband on my honeymoon I needed a tatoo. He already had one so it was no big deal. So I did it, a wonderful paw print on my left ankle. If only you could have seen my dad's face when I returned from my honeymoon and showed him what I had done. He was shocked to say the least but technically I did not disobey him. Just hoping I never have to move back home because of divorce or anything like that. So I am 32 now and can't wait to get my next one.
Thanks Kristie for sharing you stories.

kim-d said...

Ahhh, yes, they are addictive! Like Katie, mine also started out as quiet rebellion, even though I was already old and had nobody to be rebellious to. Issues, maybe? HAHA. I also don't ever want the blatantly in-your-face visible ones, but anyplace on my body that isn't visible is now fair game. I don't know why, they're just so fun. I'd love something like your dolphins...hmmmm...

I love the little star I had put on each of my feet, just to the side and under the big toe, so they're visible when I wear flip flops and sandals. Just giving you an idea...HAHAHA!

Anyway, as always, you rock!

lizinsumner said...

I'm trying to imagine what a tattoo would look like on me right now if I had ever gotten one, at a much younger age, and it had gone through the ensuing years of stretch, then shrink, then stretch again, then shrink again, then stretch again (with a few wrinkles thrown in for good measure), etc., etc., etc.......conjures a frightening image, doesn't it??!! And, I've never, ever heard of ANY state having to legalize tattoos......hmmmm - this IS the same state that you guys say that you WANT to move back to, right???!!!! I still think you need to post a photo of the German tattoo - I'm trying real hard to picture it, but my imagination just isn't doing it justice, I'm sure. If you did a real tight shot so no one could even tell what body part it's on???!!!

Jeanette said...

At least you didn't wind up with a tattoo of a beer stein or a cuckoo clock.

Simply Jenn said...

Yes they are legal in OK. I had one done a month ago for my birthday and to celebrate my friend who had died in a car wreck 2 years earlier. It's a frickin HUGE dragonfly and the wings have disappeared, but I still love it.

KirstyB said...

I read all the way to the bottom expecting photos!! :) :) :) No such luck, huh?! I always say I WANT a tattoo but I am way too much of a wimp to ever do it!!

Kim said...

OMG, I almost peed my pants laughing (a bad habit when I go reading blogs....) at the clouds and rainbow "cover up" story.

I used to work with kids in juvenile hall, and saw a lot of "f*** you" tattoos, written across the knuckles....the rainbow/clouds sounds much more friendly, even if you cant tell what it is....but you know, now we really want to see this tattoo!

Have you ever seen the Saturday Night Live skit, where the lady's tattoo on the small of her back begins to get saggy as she ages? It's one of THE funniest skits ever...

Alice said...

OMG! Loved the story. It made me laugh. I got my tattoo when I was 28 - my best friend had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, my boyfriend had broken up with me and I had just lost my job. A tattoo seemed reasonable! ;) Unlike you - I did opt for the Chinese symbol (mine is Courage), but everytime I'm around a Chinese person I both want to show them my tattoo and ask what it means and run the other way! Thanks for helping me realize I wasn't the only one who decided a tattoo was the answer to life's problems!

Stacey said...

I totally remember our weekend in Dallas when you got the dolphins. I also, unfortunately, remember the karaoke that followed! Can't wait to have you all back!

Love, Stacey

Patty House, Jasonville, IN said...

I've wanted to have a tattoo since I was about 18, but could never bring myself to get inked.

I would like a nice little rose or something, but...just can't bring myself to do it.

Sorry to hear about the branding in Germany, but the other 2 sound really nice!

Dianna in Louisiana said...

As usual-- LOL Kristie--- I haven't ever considered getting a tattoo, ever.... but do think it's neat that you had the guts to do it--- and do it again--- and again!