I’m a fan of tattoos – not so much the prison ink on the knuckles or the gang-related tats of tears and such – but I love an artistic tattoo! I think my ink appreciation started years ago when we lived in Corpus Christi, Texas. Doc was in the Navy and his job was teaching pilots how to survive if their helicopter or plane went down at sea, or if the aircraft lost cabin pressure at 30,000 feet, or if they had to eject from their jet. If they were doing training in the pool, Doc and his coworkers often wore the khaki UDT shorts. Very short, rather tight UDT shorts – and often nothing else.
I enjoyed visiting the unit on water days.
I guess the shorts must have been comfortable, because they also often wore them after work or on weekends, when they were just hanging out.
We would often gather at my friend’s house on the weekends. She was the wife of one of Doc’s coworkers and she was one of those women who entertain effortlessly. People would just gravitate to her place because it was so comfortable place and she made everyone feel welcome. It was never fancy and she didn’t make a lot of effort to impress – it was just a warm, welcoming place and people wanted to be there. One of Doc’s coworkers was there so often, she called him her “son” – so I’ll call him that as well for the purpose of this story.
Son was a young, blonde, attractive man who had a great body. His muscular thighs in those UDT shorts were a thing of beauty – even more so because he sported an exquisite, colorful dragon tattoo that started near his groin and ended on his calf, sinuously winding around his leg. It was massive and it was stunning. I had trouble tearing my eyes away from that work of art, so hypnotizing were the design and the colors. I loved that tattoo (I may have loved Son a little bit as well – not only was he good looking, but he loved to read, and I had never met a man other than my father who loved to read as much as I did). When winter came and Son came to the parties in long pants, it made me rather gloomy.
Now, I have a couple of tattoos – but I’m not wild about either of them. The first is a small butterfly on my ankle that I got in Florida shortly after marrying Doc – except you can’t tell it’s a butterfly, because the tattoo “artist” decided that it would look better with several “stars” around it. The result is just a dark blob on my ankle – rather like a smudge of soot. It’s always a fun guessing game when someone notices it.
“What is that?”
“Yes, but a tattoo of what?”
“Oh, it’s a butterfly.”
About now the brows furrow and the eyes squint. Perhaps there is even a head tilt as my inquisitor attempts to make out the butterfly…and inevitably fails. “Umm…I don’t see it.”
“It’s a side view. See the body here? And these are the wings. And those are…stars.”
There are a few moments more of squinting before they finally give up and say, “Oh, now I see it!” when they totally don’t see it at all and just don’t want to be perceived as a moron.
The second tattoo is a small, red heart on my left breast – could I be more cliché? I got this tattoo when I was in my 30’s and my breasts were still slightly perky. Alas, they have now surrendered to the law of gravity and the heart – once perfectly proportioned and chubby – becomes longer and leaner with each passing year.
I’ve thought about getting some more tattoos – some good tattoos. For example, I have a two-foot scar down my spine due to back fusion I had when I was a teenager. I’ve never worn backless dresses or halter-tops because of my scar and I’ve always envied women who have perfect, sexy backs and who dress to show it off. When I did some research, I saw that you can get a tattoo right over a scar…so I thought it might be cool to get something like a long, colorful, flowering vine, starting at the base of my spine and twisting its way up over my scar to the base of my neck. Then I found out how much something like that would cost – and the fact that it would hurt more than a regular tattoo (and I’m a big baby when it comes to pain) – so I gave up on my dreams for a splendiferous back tattoo.
Then I happened to stumble upon The Tattoo Tourist. This girl knows about tattoos – how to find a good tattoo artist, how to care for your tattoo, how much to tip your tattoo artist, her favorite artists – and she has pictures of all different styles of tattoos (the watercolor tattoos are incredible). Browsing through her site, I fell in love with tattoos all over again.
While one part of my mind tells me I’m much too old to be getting any new tattoos, there is another part that reminds me that life has thrown all sorts of shit at me this past year and I’ve gotten through it. I deserve a tattoo that reminds me that I’m strong, (fairly) steady, and (usually) sane. I don’t want anything as corny as a phoenix rising from the ashes (my apologies if you happen to have a tattoo of a phoenix rising from the ashes – I’m sure it’s perfectly lovely on you). I want something unusual, very colorful, and striking. It’s not going to be huge, as I plan to put it on the nape of my neck – or maybe the back of my shoulder – but it has to be meaningful and make a statement.