Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Tattoos have become so mainstream that just about anyone under the age of 50 has their someday tattoo in mind even if they don't actually have a tattoo. I realized this last weekend as I ran into a friend at Borders and when she asked what we had planned for the evening and I told her we were going downtown to get Jeff a tattoo she did NOT say, "Really, you know employers frown on that sort of thing," nor did she say, "Do you know how saggy that's going to look some day?" which are both silly things I've heard old people say about tattoos. Instead she said, "Oh, if I ever get a tattoo it will be the iron man symbol and it will go right here," and she showed me the spot on her arm where she would put her someday tattoo. I should point out she is a banker, not a biker.
Jeff has also had a someday tattoo for some time; musical notes on the inside of his forearm that he could see when he looks down the neck of his guitar. I've encouraged him to turn this vision into reality but so far the opportunity to get a tattoo had not presented itself --until last weekend when the bunny shelter that Lilly volunteers at had a fund-raiser at a local tattoo parlor. Yes, for two days, all the proceeds of all tattoos and piercings would go to the shelter. At last, an excuse for Jeff to get his tattoo (that and his 50th birthday is right around the corner and you've got the perfect storm).
Which is why last Saturday night while our two eldest children were otherwise occupied with the annual high school variety show production, Lilly, Jeff, and I drove into the city. We brought Lilly because even though she is only 11 it is after all her charity.

The place was located in a not-so-gentrified part of town. Inside it was well-lit and set up like a Hair Cuttery. There were several 20 and 30-somethings sitting on benches waiting to get inked and most already had some visible tattoos. As the old suburban couple with a child we definitely looked a little out of place. I approached the counter and a Zooey Deschanel (with black hair not blonde like in Elf) look-alike took our information down and assured us that the wait was not too bad--half an hour. Oh goody, plenty of time to people watch. Lilly grinned happily because people watching is one of her favorite hobbies.

We sat and watched the comings and goings. The tattoo artists themselves were working on various body parts in chairs separated by curtains but all the curtains were open so we could watch. There was a woman wincing in one corner as the inkman bent over her back. I caught her eye and it was clear she was in pain. Zooey came and asked Jeff what he wanted done and Jeff showed her the photo he had brought. She asked about size and placement and then went to make a transfer of it. She said Tom would be doing the work. We had already seen Tom and were fascinated with his full-arm tattoo that was basically a colored dark green solid sleeve from wrist to elbow (picture above).
Lilly was wearing one of her bunny t-shirts (she has an extensive collection) so that sparked some conversation with the other customers. It seems that nearly everyone waiting was there to get a tattoo of a bunny or a bunny paw prints. They all talked bunny talk for some time and then Tom approached us holding the transfer. "So, who is this for?" he asked looking at all three of us.

I nodded toward Lilly and dead-panned, "Her."
Tom waited a beat. Blinked. Then said, "Cool."

I laughed and said not really and the others sitting there laughed with relief because really, a tattoo may be mainstream but no one wants to see an eleven year old with her parents getting one on a Saturday night. I mean really. I may TAKE my kid to tattoo parlor but I wouldn't let her GET a tattoo! What kind of mother do you think I am?
Tom had us follow him back to his chair. He put the transfer on Jeff's arm and wet it (think fake tattoos your kids get at birthday parties) and made sure Jeff liked it. He did, so Tom started the tattoo basically filling in where the stencil was. Now for those of you who have never seen a tattoo the way it works it that a little electric needle pokes multiple holes in your skin and the ink goes into the holes. It does not go deep but it IS a needle poking holes in your skin so it smarts a bit. Jeff was stoic and did not cry. He even watched.
I chatted with the girl across the aisle who was getting her 6th tattoo--a rather large memorial to her grandfather on her calf. She was friendly enough and mentioned her mother hated tattoos. I realized I was probably about the same age as her mother but I kept that thought to myself and I showed off my own tattoo (the outline of a heart on my hip which you can only see if I'm in a bikini) and she acted properly impressed.
Turning back to Jeff's tattoo man I noticed he had two certificates posted on the wall above him. One was verifying that he had the proper credentials to ensure no one would get an infectious disease from him and the other was "Best in Bible Verse Memorization for the Neighborhood." I found both certificates impressive and reassuring.
By then Tom was done and carefully put a bandage on Jeff's arm. The whole thing took no more than five minutes. We went and paid Zooey and that was that.
So there you have it. Getting a tattoo is now as mundane as going to the movies or out for dinner and takes less time than a haircut. The people there were friendly. No one was drunk and not one sailer or biker entered the salon the whole time.
Maybe you have a someday tattoo--you know what it would be and where it would go. Maybe you "almost got one" but were talked out of it (yes TJ, I mean you). Now that you know how easy it is maybe it's time you go get one because let me tell you if you get one in an out of way place it will not interfere with your job prospects and if you're worried about a saggy tattoo--well you're going to be saggy some day with or without the tattoo.
How about it? Is today someday?


  1. Perhaps it is a better idea to wait with a tattoo until you already are saggy. That way the tattoo can't sag any further.

  2. Tattoo seems pretty easy now that I know the drill. Complete an ironman to be able to get the tattoo not so certain. That is definitely a someday race for me. Can't wait to see Jeff's new ink.

  3. Tattoos over 50 are gooood. Never looked back, after mine ;-) (http://www.serendips.eu/?file=20080129 on-mouse-over).
    Are we going to get to see what Jeff's is like? :-)

  4. I'm ready - the problem is I haven't decided what or where. And I'm encouraging everyone to ink up on a whim - because I want to help out Marci's business plan for a tatoo removal chain (called "Delete"). I mean, look - I've got three kids to put thru college.