“You know that’s going to be there for ever?” Durrrh … really? Having said that, with modern technology leaving no trail unblazed, you no longer have to undertake a near skin transplant to have them removed. Tattoos are now quicker and easier to remove than ever before. In fact, many tattoo parlours also offer tattoo removal as an add on; like a restaurant with a lipo clinic by the loos.
No self respecting mid life reviewer could go through this point in their life without contemplating a tattoo and, as I didn’t have one, that went on the bucket list. Now, it’s not because I didn’t have one that compelled me (I mean, I don’t have a herd of gnu in my garden either but I have never wanted a herd of gnu…well, maybe just a small one). I have always wanted a tattoo but knew I had to navigate several hurdles first.
First and foremost; Papa. My dad. Along with a quite lengthy list of dislikes, Papa hated tattoos. Especially tattoos on women. Dad was of a vintage where women should be pretty, slender and could cook up a good Shepard’s Pie (if you could also strip a machine gun down in under 10, then his world would have been complete). Indelible drawings of cobras, though, were not part of the vista; they were reserved for the Navy and perhaps certain long staying inmates of Mexican penitentiaries…only the males though. Females with tattoos were either rampant lesbians or part of a travelling circus.
Maud Wagner (above) was the 1st known female tattoo artist -this was back in 1900s when women were branded social pariahs if they showed so much as an ankle, so lord only knows what the reaction when the colourful Ms Wagner took a promenade down the avenue. I was not suggesting tattoos on this level but I spent several years skirting around the issue with Papa, thinking that, with age, his views might soften. They didn’t. My lovely dad, sadly, passed away last year and so, like the coward I am, I knew I had dodged the bullet. I was then at liberty to daub myself in any way I saw fit. Additionally, I have also now dispelled any fanciful notions about life after death as, if there were any reason for a little bit of haunting, my act of rebellion would have been it. So far, nothing. Papa has remained shtum.
My second hurdle was to decide where to put my Inking. Whilst on our holibobs in the summer, “Rock” pointed out the lady ahead in the queue for the “Tornado” ride (scary rides of any description are off my bucket list.. I can’t do them…I cry) at the swimming pool had 2 penis tattoos on her back. On closer inspection it became clear that it was the knees of a cross legged Buddha. Due to the the unfortunate design of her swimming cossie, the body and head of the holy one, were pretty much hidden with only the knees on show.
Location, location, location are key and, to avoid such inadvertent disasters, the ‘where’ must not be taken lightly. Being a highly practical person I started researching “which part of the body would go saggy last”. Now, unfortunately I could only ascertain which parts of the body aged first, so, by process of elimination, I was left with toes, back of the neck and wrist. I went with wrist. I have never recalled seeing elderly wrists.
Now, finally, to the ‘what’. Tattoo fashions have undulated over the years from the taboo to the, now almost, de rigueur. With almost half of millennials (yes, I’m aware that I am 30 years over my sell by date there), now rocking a tat, they have never been so fashionable. With the rich and famous leading the charge and displaying their new body art as often as they do their new shoes, it seems everyone is at it. Rihanna, Angelina Jolie, Justin Bieber are all heading for full body suits and, my all time fave, Ed Sheeran (all the criteria of cool…but just not) who has, drum roll, a Heinz Ketchup label tattoo in his rapidly growing collection; no, I don’t know why either. My research lured me down a rabbit hole of hilarious branding faux pas, which, I grant you, all seem to have the same reformatory theme. Look up ‘bad tattoos’ on the interweb. It’s 15 minutes of your life you won’t get back but, man o man, is it funny.
Papa associated tattoos with sailors, punks and the downright feckless so it’s no small wonder that his views were a little tainted. In my time though the art of tattooing has become just that, an art. If done properly. Not, for instance, by your mate with a pin and some Indian ink on a grey Monday morning when you should have been at school (if you ever meet My Rock, ask him about that). Things have moved on in the realm of tattoos, even in the last 5 years; remember the ‘Tramp Stamp’ of a decade ago (a tattoo on the back, on the hinterland between the muffin top and waistband), the un-ironic tribal tattoo on white, freckle covered arms? Luckily, bad, regretful tattoos can now been extricated with relative ease.
After having loitered around the tattoo parlour half a dozen times or more, I took a hearty inhale and stepped over the threshold. Somehow the combination of Funeral Doom Metal playing in the background like the lift music on the way down to the pits of hell seemed appropriate. The young man who came in from his tea break expertly negotiating a cheese bap despite the multiple lip piercings was not out of place. I, though, have never felt so out of place and middle aged but I was now on the inside of the door. I couldn’t claim I was ‘just looking” so had to bite the bullet (possibly a common pastime for some employees at the parlour) and book myself in. One week later, I met with Tom. Tom didn’t have a full face tattoo. Tom didn’t have 6 inch ear stretchers in. Tom looked relatively homely. Tom doodled a design on my arm with a pink sharpie based on what I had described and 45 minutes later… Tah Daaahh.
Tom is amazing.
My tattoo signifies my life, my growth, my courage. Each flower represents one of my children and one for My Rock and like all good, healthy vines, my tattoo will grow… a little.
Ultimately though, perhaps it doesn’t matter the what or the where the tattoo is as, in 20 years or so, you would have to get past the age spots, creases and wrinkles before the tattoo would come into any type of focus.