Inked promises or Tattoo you, mom says
Ah…what was that, I wondered. I rummaged around in the disheveled file cabinet; I call my brain, and could not come up with one manila folder promise to an 8-year-old. I had a better chance remembering what I had for breakfast that day other than a birthday gift eight years later. What could I possibly have promised my daughter that she would have remembered for half her life? So…I elicited memory-jog back-up from my youngest.
“Tattoo, mom,” she said in that kind of voice kids use when you forget to pick them up or give them lunch money. “You promised her a tattoo when she turned sixteen.”
I vaguely recalled a conversation about tattoos. It was one of those back and forth verbal sparring matches’ parents and kids have which often ends with the promise of something, anything, just to shut them up.
“Yes, we’ll go to McDonalds, no, you don’t have to go to bed early tonight, and yes when you turn sixteen you can get a tattoo.”
I had given my word; I had to live up to my promise because, well, I had a witness. It never occurred to me that the girls might be conspiring against me because in our family, it’s usually, kid against kid and I’m the one swearing on the good book.
So, on a weeknight, my two daughters and I, a co-worker of mine and her boyfriend, (who knew about exotic things such as tattoos because he was covered in them), all drove to New Haven, a big city den of tattoo iniquity.
“Mom, car,” my youngest said when we headed to the tattoo studio. (They aren’t called parlors anymore.) I was so nervous when I got out of the car I left the keys in the ignition and the engine running. Once inside, my daughter was devastated because even though I was there to give my permission they would not allow the tattoo because she was under eighteen. Back to the car, we headed up I-95 to Groton. (Groton. Navy. Tattoos. Made sense to me). It was late, we were hungry, and the kind folks in Groton agreed to permanently embellish on my daughter the beautiful Asian symbol she had drawn. You haven’t lived until you sit in a waiting room, looking at a photo album of beautifully drawn pictures inked on every body part imaginable, while one daughter does her English homework and the other gets ink drilled under her skin by a guy named Snake.
“Make sure you tell your English teacher tomorrow, where you did your homework tonight.” I said to my youngest. She did.
Some people would consider my decision to allow my underage daughter to undergo such a procedure irresponsible but the place was clean, the instruments sterilized and Snake wore gloves.
Tattoos have become quite the popular permanent accessory of late. During my most recent monumental birthday, an age in numbers actually having its own card, I thought I might celebrate my initiation into senior-citizen-hood with AARP tattooed on my, well you can just imagine, ‘butt’ the only way I could enjoy the artistic penmanship would be in a mirror and it would be backward.
Now, between them, I think my daughters have three, maybe, four tattoos, only one was a promise from me. I don’t promise gifts anymore, except to myself; next birthday, a tattooed bar code with no expiration date.