I have 3 tattoos.
The first one is a line from a song surrounded by swirlies to make it look pleasantly arty. The second was to make sure Neil Gaiman’s signature stays where he signed it himself, now almost invisibly resting on my forearm forever. The third and latest one has the Beatles jumping off of my left foot. (I’d explain them in more detail, but they each deserve individual blog entries. Seriously.)
I told my mom about the Gaiman tattoo because there was no way I could hide it when it was healing. It looked like I doodled on myself with a knife instead of a pen. She didn’t talk to me for a few hours. Afterwards, she asked me if I had already eaten dinner. Life went on and back to normal, no mention of it ever again.
When I got my Beatles tattoo, I didn’t even bother approaching her first. I decided to just sit at home and wait for her to notice. I wanted to test her — if she would feign ignorance or ask me outright. Well, she asked me. And replied to my answer with an “Eh?” and a sigh. We continued talking, but not before my mom smoothly segued to another topic.
It started bothering me that she knew about the last 2, but had no idea about the very first. I wanted to tell her before she found out accidentally. And by accidentally, I mean, having a gown that will show my back tattoo at either of the family weddings near the end of the year.
I told her the same way I opened up to her about a lot of things — over coffee and cigarettes.
“Mama.” I said. “I have something to tell you…”
She waited for me to continue.
I continued. “But don’t disown me or anything, okay?”
She had a confused look on her face. She probably thought I was going to tell her I was pregnant.
I told her “And no, I’m not pregnant.” I realized how useless that statement was. I was waving my lit cigarette around as I said it.
Mom was starting to get impatient. “What is it?!” she exclaimed.
“I… Uh. I. Ummm. Heh.” And I grinned at her.
“Whaaaaaaat.” I swear, that’s how she said it. “Whaaaaaaat.”
“My tattoo, the one on my arm. It wasn’t my first one.” I rambled on to explain what it meant to me and please understand it’s just me I love it and it’s my thing you know and you have to accept it ’cause I have plans for more it’s art and it’s personal and I’m getting one each for you and Papa too it’s not like I get skulls and pentagrams and it will all mean something to me anyway I need this at least I’m not pregnant!
My mom listened to my pathetic mess of a speech. I don’t think she will ever quite understand this part of me, but that look she had on her face showed a kind of passive acceptance. And I’ll take it!
I like to think my openness with her about these kinds of things — bonding with her over cigarettes being one other thing — makes it easier somehow.
She knows about all my tattoos now, as well as a few more I plan to have, and she has not — will not — disown me. In my book, that makes her a helluva cool mom.