Please don't say . . . Tattoo . . .
For years I threatened my children that all financial assistance would be cut off if they indulged in tattoos or piercings before their college graduations, hoping to delay them until a new level of maturity kicked in because I was fairly certain the tattoos and piercings they admired at 18 wouldn’t be so appealing to them at 22.
But now I have two college graduates, which also means I no longer have any sway beyond looks of shock and utter dismay. And quite frankly, these haven’t been very effective with the son who was about to display his newest “inked” location.
The first involves a written slogan which, when he looks in the mirror, appears backward. However, being able to read writing backward and upside down can be a useful skill I’ve learned (although I’m not sure the statute of limitations is up so I better not say anything more about that).
In any case, there we were, in a coffee shop, when my beloved child inquired as to whether I was interested in his most recent “acquisition.” I gulped. Was this a test of my motherhood skills, you know the ones where you’re not supposed to show fear no matter what?
“Sure,” I said, trying to appear calm, collected and totally hip.
He held up his phone.
“Can’t I see the real thing?”
“No,” he said. “I’m not going to lift my shirt in here.”
“Oh,” I said. (This is my classic motherly response to stall for time while mind races through a multitude of options and actions.) I peered closer at the screen on his phone. There it was – an intricate, brightly colored creation that included a skull and some mysterious words in Latin. “I didn’t realize you knew Latin,” I offered.
He glared at me. “I took it in high school, remember?”
“Oh.” (But I really think here that he was expecting too much of a woman who can never remember where she leaves her cell phone or purse). “What does it mean?”
“Fear no evil,” he said.
“Oh. (OK, at this point, I admit, I had absolutely no idea what to say next. How could I possibly be supportive of something I’ve opposed for years and yet, the deed had been done so I figured it was important to be mature about this and also not show any fear for this evil.) “Did it hurt?”
He then proceeded to describe the process and as soon as I left the coffee shop, I texted the tattoo announcement to his father. Needless to say, that spread the fear to him. My next stop was a meeting with a woman I was meeting for the first time and when I began describing the unnerving encounter with my son, she said, “Tattoos aren’t so bad.”
Then she told me she had two daughters and if they were to get tattoos, neither she nor her husband would have much credibility if they objected because “we both have tattoos, too.”
This got me wondering whether I might be the last person left in America who’s not part of this steadily growing trend. I do like to think I’m trendy, so I began to mull what I might get for my tattoo if I were brave enough to face the needles.
I settled on this one: “Operor non vereor,” which according to one of those free translation places on the Internet means “show no fear.” However, with my luck, it really means something else, like: “Oh -- please don't tell me that,” which would be appropriate too!
(Editor's Note: If I had a tattoo, it would be the Neil Young & Crazy Horse logo. Or maybe the Rolling Stones logo by Shephard Fairey. )