Sounds like a joke, right? But it’s me, and I’m serious.
Last year at our final breakfast at the Women At Woodstock Writers Retreat, I mentioned that I thought I would get a tattoo for my next birthday. I made the statement kind of sheepishly, darting my eyes around the table for signs of disgust or disapproval. Instead, the room erupted. “I have a tattoo!” “I have one here!” “Look at this!”
What ensued was a raucous half hour of 50-plus-year-old women pulling up their sleeves, raising their shirts, lowering their waistbands, pulling up their pantlegs, and yanking down their necklines. “So cool! That’s gorgeous! Yow!”
Oh man, have I found my tribe. I love these women.
Just a few weeks earlier I’d had one of those Tattoo Conversations that happen once in a while among women my age. This woman was saying about her daughter’s tattoo, “WHY would she do that to her body? She’s going to regret it! What’s it going to look like in 30 years! It’s so stupid! Gah!”
My younger daughter has a tiny tattoo of an open book right above her 4th toe and she reads voraciously and I think it’s cool. And my older daughter has an eagle on her forearm that she got during her stint in the merchant marine; its wings are spread wide and they wrap all the way around her arm and almost touch at her wrist. I think it’s awesome.
I said that both my daughters had tattoos, and I liked them. And just to get this woman’s goat, I added that they got them in high school. Um, which was a lie. But I couldn’t resist.
“I can’t believe you let them do that!” she said. “I would never have allowed my daughters to get tattoos at that age.”
“And,” I continued (and this part is the truth, but yeah, I was really going after the goat-getting), “when my older daughter was 13, she told me that she wanted to get her nose pierced but that she would wait until she was 15 so she could be sure it wasn’t just some temporary thing.”
I mean, how could you not respect a girl for that kind of mature thinking?
“So when she turned 15,” I went on, “she told me, ‘I still do want to get my nose pierced,’ so I drove her to the tattoo parlor for her birthday and paid for it.”
The goat was mine.
Sometimes it feels like me, the freak mother, against everyone else. But that morning in the lodge in the Catskills, I did not feel alone at all. I was among my tatted-up peeps, and I felt all warm and fuzzy inside.