Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Story of My Tattoo

It seems as if EVERYONE wants or has a tattoo these days.

I got my first tattoo in 1993.  I was a Junior in high school.

And it wasn't real.

You see, it was a very classy rub on tattoo.  I think I got it from Claire's.  I loved it.  I proudly sported it on my ankle, just above my bobby sock during basketball season so everyone could admire it's beauty in my cheerleading uniform.

The thing about rub on tattoos is they come off.  So a few days later I put a butterfly tattoo on my OTHER ankle.  It was sooooo beautiful.  I think it was a big blue butterfly.  But I could be mistaken.

"Do you know what people think of you when they see those tattoos on your legs?" my mom would ask.

"They think it's in a different location every time they see it," was my smart reply.  (I fear I frequently needed my face smacked in high school.)

So in high school I had a love affair with tattoos.  I would put them on my shoulders if I knew I was going to wear a sleeveless shirt, but I quickly learned they weren't as pretty as the ones I put on my legs, due to my resistance to shaving my arms...

In those days tattoo parlors were illegal in Oklahoma.  I turned 18 in 1993, and I think my parents were quite relieved that I could not just wander up the street and get a REAL tattoo.  However, I was determined that one day I would have a tattoo.  I hadn't settled on the exact design, or even location.   You see, NOBODY had tattoos in those days.  Well, unless you were a biker, active military, or a veteran.  But other than that, no all American girls had tattoos.  However, for some reason I had determined it was my destiny to decorate my body with colored ink. 

I graduated high school in 1994.  That May I went to work at a regional hospital in our area as a nurse's aide.  I did all of those things that nurses receive such glory for.  You know: Bed baths, toileting, diaper changing, spoon feeding, and lets not forget overall cleaner of vomit.  I always tell people who are considering nursing as a profession to work as an aide before they do it.  If you can do the most menial part of the job and still love it, then it is definitely your calling.

So there I was 18 years old, working as a nurse's aide and pondering the exact location of my permanent tattoo, and how I was going to manage to get said tattoo when I was a kid working through college, with no opportunities for road trips in my near future.  I continued with my hobby of temporary tattoos. I would try different designs and different locations, and contemplate which colors worked best with my fair skin... 

Anyhoo as I was pondering my future tattoo, I was working in our local hospital.  One day as I was helping a woman who was the same age as my grandma have her sponge bath, I noticed something on her belly.  At first I thought some jello or something had gotten on her and dried.   So, I tried to help wash it off.  Only it didn't come off.  Then I realized it was a TATTOO!  Of a ROSE!  A withered, disfigured, faded rose.  I was quite shocked.  Here was this sweet little old lady with a TATTOO on her belly!  What made it even worse was that the tattoo wasn't SUPPOSED to be on her belly.  It was supposed to be about 12 inches farther north.  Sadly, as her body began to sag and shift, her once perky rose tattoo was now a sad and saggy shriveled blob.

I never did get a tattoo.  Every time I thought about getting a tattoo after that, I would picture that disturbing image.

Now when I see everyone running around with tattoos, I'm really glad I never got one.  Not because I care that they have tattoos.  I had wanted a tattoo as a statement of being different.  If I had one now, I'd just be like everyone else.  And where's the fun in that?

When I have veterans in as patients, I always look at their tattoos, and ask them about them.  Some of them are embarrassed, but  most of them have an interesting tale to tell about getting it.  I have to say one of the perks about being a nurse, is the ability to ask darn near anything of people, and they answer the questions as if you have every right to know... 

I remember a few years ago, I was trying to start an IV on an elderly gentleman who had a tattoo on his forearm.  He had come in dressed as many men his age do:  Docker pants, button up shirt, sweater vest, gold watch and fedora in place.  I love when men come in dressed like this as it is very similar to how my Grandad Marvin dressed.  Anyway, he was out of his "civilian clothes" and had changed into our very flattering "one size fits none" hospital gown.  I had tucked him up in warm blankets, and gathered my supplies for his IV.

I placed the tourniquet on his upper arm, and began my survey for a likely vein candidate, I vaguely noticed he had a tattoo.  Typical of elderly people, his skin was loose and thin.  I stretched it taunt to see if I had any takers pop up.  I couldn't help myself, but I started to chuckle as I stretched his skin out and realized that he had the oh so classic naked lady tattoo on his forearm.  He asked me what I was laughing at.

"I'm sorry.  I just couldn't help but think that I bet when you got that naked lady tattoo you never dreamed she'd get old and saggy along with you!"

Fortunately, he saw the humor in the situation along with me.


Dawn said...

I'm glad you don't have one either. Funny--I seem to have forgotten the rub on tattoo phase you went through!

Marilyn said...

I don't remember so many of them but I did have a fear that you would come home with a real one sometime. Glad you didn't.

MommaMindy said...

You are such a great story teller!

Andy, it felt so good to read this and honestly laugh for the first time in days. THANK YOU! I needed to do that!!!!!!!!

Marilyn said...

find me at a new sight..marilyn-perilsofthesandcreekranch for some reason, I could not get into my old one and it said it had expired????

Michelle said...

I am rolling on the floor laughing Andi. This is exactly why I didn't get a tatoo (ok and the pain that goes along with it). My sister got a teddy on her belly. I keep telling her she better not get pregnant or little teddy will become large saggy teddy. :)

Megan said...

I wanted to get one when I was 19, but my fear of my mother's wrath was much great than my actual desire for the tattoo.

NaomiG said...

Haha!! That is funny. I am always so fascinated by people's tattoos also, I've just never liked one or felt strongly enough about something to get it printed permanently on my body.

My youngest daughter--age 6, is OBSESSED. She loves tattoos.

KiteFlyer said...

I've never come across anything that I'd like to wear permanently. One idea I saw that I really liked was a friend who had a wedding ring tattooed on his ring finger. I liked the symbolism. Unfortunately, as I type this, I realize he's getting a divorce....