Tuesday, June 12, 2012

a cautionary tattoo tale

i've been thinking lately about the many, many foolish choices i made in my early twenties. there was an abundance and i made them all with the reckless abandon that only the young fool does. i had been fairly careful about my choices up to that point in time with only a slight swerve into the fast-moving naughty lane before my twentieth birthday.
i look pretty normal here, don't i?
but underneath that calm exterior lay the makings of a party girl.

but when i turned twenty, i decided that i was done with the good and i was headed as quick as i could find it, into the bad. i boycotted church and started swearing excessively. i dated men who weren't future husband material and cut and dyed my hair into unacceptable colors and styles.

one of the things i decided i needed to try was body art. i got my belly button pierced and then passed out when i stood up. fortunately, the 18 year old guy who'd clamped and stabbed my navel knew enough to slide me gently down the counter where i'd flopped like a boneless jellyfish and then give me a coke when i woke up.

i got my tongue pierced a few months later, which wasn't particularly smart since it was only a few days before thanksgiving. my tongue swelled up and left me with a lisp that was hard to hide when speaking with people, like my grandma. and i couldn't indulge in anything but cranberry sauce because chewing was pretty much out of the question. i decided to take that piercing out after one night when i was making out with a guy who suddenly pulled away from my face, reached into his mouth and pulled the ball from the top of my tongue barbell off his tongue and handed it to me.

piercings though, are just beginner stuff. they're removable and can be denied once you get tired of them. tattoos though, hold a whole different realm of stupid possibilities. don't get me wrong, i like tattoos a lot. i like the artistic aspect and the way they can mark a significant event in your life.

however, the way i went about getting tattoos wasn't artistic or significant. i decided all of a sudden, to find the name of a tattoo shop in the yellow pages and then go there. i went alone and didn't give any prior thought to what was going to be put permanently on my skin. i picked some flowers out of a book. they were boring and poorly done, but they live on my ankle for anyone to see when the weather is warm.

having a tattoo made me feel like a tough guy. like i was part of the cool kids' club, even though my ink was meaningless and tacky. i decided about a year later to get another one. i was determined to do better on my second round in the tattoo chair and i chose to put it in a location where it wouldn't be visible so often. i picked my lower stomach.

obviously, for a woman, that's a bad choice of body real estate, even if you're young and thin and can't imagine ever having kids. twenty year olds know nothing.

you see that smiling face and belly shirt? yeah, that was me, happy and stupid and about to show off my sneaky stomach tattoo. please disregard the huge beeper in my pocket.

i did my best to clean up these pics so you can make out what that ridiculous mousey looked like when it was fresh and new. you can see how perfectly it fit under my bikini bottom so that it always stayed hidden.

that was fine and dandy for a while, but a few years later, i got pregnant. and once i was pregnant, all hell broke lose with that tattoo. it ceased to be a cute little mousey and instead stretched out into something alarming and grotesque.

i actually got brave enough to take a picture of it tonight. a few months ago, i never would have considered it, but i've lost 48 lbs to date and i can see it now, so i am once again aware of its existence regularly. being thinner though, hasn't helped it to become any less ugly.

as i was taking the pictures, i kept thinking they were blurry. then i realized that the photo was perfectly clear, it's just that now it looks like an underwater sewer rat. or a jacked up elephant.

so let this be a cautionary tale for anyone considering a tattoo. be very careful about the location of your potential ink. if you don't have a good reason and location for it, then forget it and go get something pierced instead.


  1. Wowzers. My mom bought me a tattoo on my lower back for my 17th birthday. Good decision Mom.

    It's poorly done and it doesn't necessarily reflect my current views on life, but I know it meant something to me 10 years ago. Maybe one day I'll get it fixed up. Maybe not.

  2. ha ha ha.... a sewer rat, that is funny.
    I would have never thought you to be a "rebel"...back in the day. Guess many of us do take a journey to "the dark side" as we grow up.
    I have two tatoos also...and didn't even get them until I was in my 40's. They are in hidden places, and no one see's them unless I want them too. Yeah, they have drooped some now that I am 60, but that's ok, I'm still ok about them.

  3. Sherilin, I had no idea that you had tatoos, or ever had your navel pierced. I missed so much of your life. I nevere have had a tatoo, though I have threatened Brian with the idea of one several times over the last 11 years. Your mousey has given me second thoughts, though I would like to think that my desired eagle wing would hold up a little better when I'm 80 if it stretched. ;-)
    Love you! Aunt Joan

  4. oh wow! I've got the same "underwater" effect but sans the tattoo. We all do dumb stuff -some more lasting than others, but living through it is what matters. I am so proud of your weight loss! That is quite an accomplishment - maybe to celebrate you should have a new piercing...or not...

  5. Baaaahahahahaha I. Freaking. Heart. You. If we lived closer to each other, ohhhhh the sitting-up-drinking-a-cold-one-and-swapping-stories nights we'd have!!!! So great.

  6. Upon my first outing in the tattoo world I watched the lady in front of me get a carousel horse on her boob. The artist says, after she left of course, "What she doesn't realize is that a just tattooed a carousel giraffe on her boob."

  7. I'm not against tattoos on principle, it's just that I've never seen one that made the human body look better than it already does.

  8. I've always wondered what would happen to a woman's lower back tattoo (i.e., the unfortuntely named "tramp stamp") once she turned something like 80. Now I think I know. Something akin to a melted mouse.
    And, like me with a shirt off, that just ain't a good look.

  9. I've often thought when I've seen people, especially women, with large, unsightly tattoos they might regret them one day! You blog should be required reading for all teenage girls!

  10. I have two tattoos that I got when I was 18 and 20 and trying to be cool. A daisy on the back of my ankle and a dragon fly flitting around on the side of my other ankle. Some have said that the dragonfly's "flit" marks look like it is pooping. I chose those locations because I thought they would not stretch out as much as other spots. Neither of them mean anything to me, and while they are not unattractive or embarrassing, they are sort of pointless. I would not do it again but I am glad I chose spots that can be covered if I want. I am of the opinion now that an unmarked body is so much more attractive.

  11. Eek. I'm too scared to get a tattoo. I'm not a fan of needles.

  12. Holy cow you have lost 48 pounds? Amazing! My mom has done about that and it just amazes me... And that is crazy how your tattoo looks now!

  13. I just showed this to my 18 year old daughter. Thank you thank you thank you for providing this perspective. And congratulations on losing so much weight.

  14. I had to show you this cookware ad that shows a tattoo. It says it all for me...


  15. LOL @ Sewer rat. Poor little mouse looks sooooo old.

  16. Oh Sherilinnie! I was laughing until I saw the picture of your changed mouse, and then I felt sad for you! Oh youth, why do we have to pay the price for your impulsiveness?!? Oh well, think of it this way: you could have been a total bore like I was always making the conservative dullsville choice, and then you wouldn't have really great stories!

  17. I got my first tattoo at 30. Did my belly button at 29. And although I put all the tattoos in places that I could hide and was already past kids, I don't worry so much about the stretching.

    But I must say.... that after tattoo is AWESOME! And even more awesome that you shared it with us all. :) Here from "Where's The Funny", I think I'll stick around for a while...

  18. I've always loved tattoos, but cautionary tales like this are what keep me from getting them. I always think, "Is this a tattoo I'd like to explain to my grandkids when I'm wrinkly and they can't tell what it is?" So far, the answer has always been 'No, no I don't."

  19. Oh my gosh...I have missed this blog! I wanted a tramp stamp around the same age. My friend came to work with me one night with one. I thought I'd die without one. Thankfully, my Mom threatened to kick me out if I got one! My flowers would be wilted after 3 kids!

  20. I know I already answered, but.....
    on our trip to Virginia a couple days ago, my daughter mentioned that, when she turns 18 in a couple months, she will be getting a tattoo.
    She said, "Don't worry, Dad, it will be someplace where you won't see it."
    Even though I had the willies thinking that someone WILL see it, I thanked her profusely for her kindness.
    Now I'm convinced I should show her a picture of "Melt Mouse."

  21. Oh man. I have always tossed around the idea of getting a little tattoo. I'm scared about the forever part, and the changing with age part. Don't worry about it - its still in a good hidden spot. More importantly, 48 pounds!! Wahoo! And, do you still have that pager? It's freaking awesome.

  22. The YoungMe envies your bravery with needles--I never got past the piercings. Stuck a hole in my belly button & decided that was enough. I pondered tattoos many, many, many a time, but I could never decide on something that answered "yes" to "will I still want this on my body 20 years from now?" I'm glad that in all my college years bad decisions, I had that small bit of foresight, otherwise I would today be sporting a dolphin tat on my ankle, succubus wings between my shoulder blades, and a Marvin the Martian tramp stamp.

  23. ha! I swore even when I was 18 that I would never tattoo my stomach, knowing very well I wanted to breed! And don't feel bad, my stomach and stretch marks look just like that. And the skinnier you get, the saggier that skin and stretch material gets...but who really cares...just us!

    Now I must say, I am off to meet a new tattoo artist this very afternoon! I don't take my ink lightly anymore. But those little 18 year old mishaps are the ones I've been covering lately! but man oh man oh man, I love love love tattoos!!! I am working on my bird theme with my cage now. Woot!


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