Tattoo U

When I was 21, my Doppelganger and I lived above a real estate office and managed a popular Tavern in a college town. We were fresh out of college and finding our first wings of true independence from our families. This also necessitated learning to cope financially and socially. We had the forethought to recognize this was a monumental step in life, and the bad idea to sear it into our memories forever with tattoos.

In the early ’70s body art was not very common. There also was no Internet so we “researched” parlors by asking bikers who sometimes stopped at the Tavern as to studios in the area and pricing. Armed with a massive paper atlas and our hard-earned tips we drove two hours south. I don’t remember much about the place except that it wasn’t in a town where I would have chosen to live. We selected designs from the art on the walls, no sense getting creative when that obviously was this artist’s strong suit. There may have been a small quantity of alcohol involved. I went first with a tiny rose bud just over my left breast. It was positioned strategically so I wouldn’t have to remove any clothes for the installation and could easily hide it from the world.

Doppelganger watched with a seriously doubtful and worried look. I gritted my teeth, smiled and assured her it was nothing. I do remember adjusting my choices as to the number of colors down to just red and black, to cut the duration of the operation. Unfortunately, Dopp chose a small yellow star – easy and quick – but had it put on her shoulder-blade. We were skinny and there was no luxury of a little fat to cut the needle jabs. As we headed back up the highway she looked at me and stammered, “That was a lot more painful than I expected.”

“Hurts like a Son Of A Bitch!” I exploded.

Today, body art is amazingly (to me) commonplace and the variety of talent and choices is mind-boggling. Sailors and bikers of thirty years ago would be somewhat put out by the lack of shock appeal their simple gestures might garner amid current displays. Age seems to be no boundary, nor economic status. This is not a passing fad or phase, the marks are permanent.

I have grown to appreciate some intricate art on those I love. My own stab at non-conformity has since lost its once tenuous thread to the idea of art. The tools no doubt were crude and time has literally blurred the lines. Still, it makes me smile because I know there is a rather muddy yellow star on a shoulder-blade that sealed those memories and many more.

An old tattoo


Body art


24 thoughts on “Tattoo U”

  1. Of the six girls in my family, only two of us have tattoos. Theresa has a leprechaun hoisting a mug of beer on her ankle with Mom’s maiden name – Monnahan – just below it. Nanette, on the other hand, has several tattoos. One of which is the Aerosmith logo on her lower back.

    The rest of us? Well, none of us can think of anything we feel that passionately about to have it permanently inked on our bodies. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t admire what you’ve described as ‘body art’ on others.

    More than the tattoo descriptions above, I find your depiction of those early, heady days of freedom to be fascinating and its nice that you and Doppelganger share such a storied history!

    1. Thanks Julie. We were pretty crazy (or so we thought) back then. My daughters have more tattoos than I would like but I can hardly tell them not to do it. What I do find interesting is how expense they are these days!!

  2. Long ago, tattoos had meaning beyond one’s choice of artwork. In many cultures it was a rite of passage. Now I think it is little more than a generations attempt at shock value. Don’t get me wrong. I, myself, have several. Like your rose, mine have faded over time and just aren’t as “artful” as they once were, but every one tells a story of a specific time in my life.

    1. Agreed, Laura, the stories behind the tats or what they represent is more important than the actual artwork. I don’t regret mine (actually do have two of them) but I also had them put where I could be discrete about them…

  3. I have a skull and crossbones on my arm I got a couple years ago with two roses. The roses represent my parents who have paased away (mom in 2006 and dad in 2012).

    1. Thanks for dropping by Hellodolly! I love hearing other’s tattoo stories and what motivated them to get the ink. Not a fan of total coverage but simple ones that have meaning are always interesting.

      1. I agree. I work retail so it it is covered by my uniform. I am not a fan of full coverage either…at least not for me. I have seen someone once that had his entire face covered in tatttoos….I couldn’t understand that one!

      2. I guess some tattoo artists don’t care as long they get paid to do it. You would think that the person getting it done would have to sign some type of health thing or something that states that they know the riosks, etc.

  4. Ah yes, the tattoo trip…. once again, we were ahead of our time!! HA! And YES that hurt… I fully get why most tats are done on the arm or somewhere that is at least Some fat… We were so daring at the time! My how times change!

  5. Did I get it right? There was so much more going on in life just then but this was a slice I remembered and by the way, that is your God-daughter’s arm so you are so totally, in some way, responsible…

    1. looking forward to hearing the explanation of just what her tattoo represents.. haven’t seen too many goat headed women with no legs myself… nice colors

      1. When she was in Greece she painted the bearded goat lady. She has a fascination with lady goats and their beards. The queen bee is also represented along with the six-sided honey comb. Works for me!

  6. That was quite a leap…a tattoo in those days. It speaks to your individuality, I think. I still can’t bring myself to get one. Mostly because I know that whatever I choose, I will change my mind tomorrow. I’m like that with everything, so not much is “permanent” in my life.

  7. In my teens I was a biker chick and wanted a tattoo. I didn’t actually get one until 2000, when Commando and I went together to get a millennium tattoo each. We chose a good tattoo artist, well recommended and Commando has added to his with two more. The little yin yang sign on my left shoulder is still something I’m pleased with and reflects my thoughts about life. I’m glad I didn’t get one earlier though as it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as meaningful.

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