Tuesday, June 09, 2009

the girl without the mermaid tattoo

Maybe if I put it in writing it will be true, like The Secret says it will. So here goes: This summer I’m getting a tattoo.

It will be my second, so it’s not like I’m working up to it. I’ve known what it will be (mermaid, ankle…not as lame as it sounds, okay?) for a long time. When I was making plans to get my first tattoo (vine, wrist), I had a dream that my mom, who’d recently passed away, was drawing a mermaid on my chest, sort of between boob and clavicle.

She probably wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that her stubborn child went ahead with the vine on the wrist, but come on—when your dead mom comes to you in a dream and tells you to get a mermaid tattoo, you have to do it at some point.

Especially when, later, you’re going through some old drawings she did and you find three or four mermaid sketches. (This is not as Twilight Zone-ish as it sounds. My mom drew fairytale creatures all the time, so there was like a ninety percent chance she’d drawn a few mermaids in her time. I’d probably already seen some of them and filed them away in my subconscious.)

So that’s the plan: mermaid, ankle, winding down onto foot because foot tattoos rock. Because of the aforementioned stubborn streak, I’m not following my dream-mom’s advice and getting it on my chest. I don’t believe in tattooing body parts that are likely to sag and/or get fat. I don’t want my poor mermaid to end up with a deformed face just because I get pregnant or old, or rekindle my love affair with creamy foreign cheeses, which happened Sunday at our book club meeting (book: Giovanni’s Room; food theme: Gay Paree).

Anyway, the reason I’ve been putting it off is because tattoos are fucking expensive! It boggles my mind when I see tatted-up homeless people or 15-year-olds. I’m like, Shouldn’t you spend that $6,000 on an apartment or college or something?

Then again, if you’re willing to make certain hygienic sacrifices, you can find some good bargains. And while I’ll play roulette with expired milk, I prefer my needles clean.

I’ve discovered that there’s never a time in your life when the answer to “What would be the smartest thing to spend this extra $400-$500 [just guessing, I really don’t know] on?” is “A tattoo of a mermaid on my ankle.” So instead I’m taking the piggy bank approach, stashing random $20 bills in a box on my nightstand every once in a while.

There’s no practical difference between this and putting it on my debit card, but psychologically it seems to work. There’s something kind of fun and old school about paying for a tattoo with a wad of cash. Like I’m a sailor. With a mermaid tattoo.


Claire said...

I heartily concur with the non-boob mermaid placement. A friend of mine has several tatts but her first (when she was young) was a dolphin sort of leaping over her breast--peaks out in tank tops/low cut shirts--that I just can't stand, but then I'd never get a dolphin.

She also talked me out of getting one, saying you get hooked and want more. I can totally see that.

Was very tempted once though to get one on whim. After 6 days of a horrible film gig--four 16-hour days in a row w/ only 8 hr turnarounds lead me to quit--I picked up my pitiful $300 check from the office and wanted to just blow it at the tatt shop around the corner. Alas, I had rent and student loans and stuff...

Maybe some day if there's an image I feel really strongly about.

Also, I gather that it's not recent, but I'm sorry about your mom. I feel like I should've known this, but I can't dredge up a post in which I might have read it before offhand.

Here's to a rockin' cool mermaid tatt this summer.

Cheryl said...

I've always been of the "only if it's an image you're really passionate about" school, but I know people who've gotten 'em on a whim and been totally happy--AK is one of them, but then, she tends to be more spontaneous than me on all fronts.

Thanks for the kind words about my mom. She died in 2003, pre-blog, so there wasn't a moment of online announcement. Hard to believe it was so long ago sometimes (so long ago that it happened in an era before everyone announced everything online--crazy!).

El Changuito said...

I look forward to checking out your next tattoo. It's such a lovely tribute to your mother.

I never got my second tattoo because tattoos are so damn expensive! I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way. Maybe I'll try your piggy bank approach. Although, I don't do well knowing that there are wads of cash somewhere within grasp. I've developed an advanced consumer itch!

Cheryl said...

Yeah, it's like having an ATM in your house. I've definitely dived into mine a few times. But the monkey needs a friend!

El Changuito said...

I'm planning to get a tattoo of the sacred heart on my bulging, left pectoral muscle. I'm am optimist that does a mediocre amount of push-up regularly. I'm hoping that's enough to prevent sagging man boobs in my golden years from disfiguing my future tat. :D