Tuesday, 12 June 2007

The Tattooed Lady

My nine year old daughter has recently taken to covering her arms with tattoos. Not the inky-blue prison varieties, but sparkly iridescent butterflies and flowers. They are like the old fashioned ‘transfer’ tattoos I loved as a child – but better. There is none of that ritual disappointment when you lift the paper off too soon to reveal only half of the pattern.

I suppose the tattoos are a step up from the lurid felt-tip body art she used to enjoy as a toddler, which was always completely indelible, despite over twenty minutes of feverish scrubbing in the bath.

Therefore, I can see that it is only a matter of time before she wants to decorate her lower back with some vast black Celtic cross, or cover her shoulders with the Chinese symbols for ‘fried rice.’

I don’t have any tattoos. I very nearly got one in my twenties, but as with everything else in those days, I just couldn’t make the commitment. I was living in Paris at the time, and along with two close friends, thought it would be ‘hilarious’ if we each got a French cockerel (symbol of French sporting excellence) tattooed at the top of one thigh. We thought the tattoos would give us all sorts of conversational opportunities (‘Would you like to see my coq?’ or ‘People say I’ve got balls, but I’ve got a coq as well!’) although I’m not sure they would have been the most successful chat-up lines.

We went so far as making an appointment at a tattoo parlour, and turning up on the night. But when we got there, the tattoo artist was so far behind with his appointments, there were still three people waiting ahead of us. We were due at a party that evening, and since we were all getting a bit thirsty, we decided to just forget it and go to the party instead. My friends wanted to re-book the appointment, but secretly I felt it was a lucky escape. I had actually spent the previous night lying in bed staring at the ceiling, in a futile attempt to imagine the rest of my life, and whether or not the cockerel tattoo would fit in with it. How ridiculous that I never suffered any such concerns over the decision to have children.

I remember my American friend was particularly unforgiving about my gutless ducking out. ‘Whaddya gonna do?’ she demanded ‘Start dating Senators, or something?’ I am embarrassed to admit that with the arrogance of youth, I replied that I just might. What I didn't realise at the time, was that I should have just gone ahead and had 'Put Your Shoes On' tattooed on my forehead - it would have saved me no end of grief twenty years later.

Another trip down memory lane comes in the form of this glass of Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay (I think it’s on offer at Tesco at £4.78). I doubt there’s anyone in the country between the ages of 20 and 50 who hasn’t tried this melon-tasting stalwart. I think it’s very pleasant, but it does remind me of dire ‘dinner parties’ in the 80s when young people sat around doing their best to emulate their pompous middle-aged parents. Maybe if I had gone ahead with the cockerel tattoo, I could have livened up the dinner party conversation. As it is, I’m not sure how I will react when my daughter decides she wants a genuine tattoo – I suppose compared to a cockerel, a gothic skull or red devil won’t seem quite so bad.

14 comments:

mutterings and meanderings said...

When I was about 19, I was going to have a unicorn on my shoulder. I rang my mum and told her. Rather than saying: "Don't do it", she cleverly said: "Think about when you're old and wrinkly, your tattoo will be old and wrinkly..."

I didn't go under the needle ...

Stay at home dad said...

Genius idea and a great shame you didn't go through with it. Mind you, you'd have forever been getting your coq out after a couple of beers...

EmmaK said...

your almost getting a tattoo reminds me of the times I almost took acid, twice. On both occasions I was drunk and at a club and a friend put the tab on the tip of my finger and I waved it about, dropped the tab, crawled around on a dark floor for it and never found it. I fear that I would not have been the type to be able to cope with acid and feel my subconscious warned me off by making me drop the stuff.

Thank God you never got a tattoo. Awful things I reckon, unless you get a teeny tiny rose.

DJ Kirkby said...

Lol! I have always had my suspicions about what those Chinese symbol tatoos really say and you have just confirmed that I am not the only one!

rilly super said...

drunkmummy darling, given your reputation your tattoo would have all too quickly become known as 'coq au vin'

Akelamalu said...

I always wanted a tattoo, so I had one - when I was 40!!!

I know someone who had a barcode tattooed on his chest - I have a feeling it read for a 24 pack of Carling!

debio said...

You could always opt for a temporary coq tattoo - stays on long enough to compliment any occasion but is scrub off-able.
Your forehead idea has suggested to me a replacemnt for post-it notes - temporary forehead mood indicators would be useful e.g. 'pissed off', 'happy today - make the most of it', 'all stressed out and no-one to choke'. Those are a bit long for the forehead though - maybe a legend from wrist to wrist would do the trick?

Drunk Mummy said...

M&M - yes, this was one of the many thoughts which ran through my mind at the time - saggy flesh and faded dye.

SAHD - you know me so well.

emmak - I too have always lacked the cool insouciance required by the genuine rebel.

dj kirkby - it does make you wonder about the integrity of the tattooists. Do you think they are ever tempted to do the Chinese symbols for 'one born every minute'?

rilly dear - that reminds me of a very crude party trick a friend of mine used to do!

akelamalu - I am all for fulfilling life-ambitions in one's forties! What did you have done?

debio - ha! Loved the 'Happy today - make the most of it' mood indicator!

Omega Mum said...

You were right to give the tattoo so much thought. After all, children grow up, but you're left with a tattoo for ever.

Nunhead Mum of One said...

I have a two inch square chinese symbol tattoo on my lower back which means something very special to me.....of course, all of my friends said it meant "chicken Fried rice". I presented my lower back to the rather startled patron of the local chinese restaurant who confirmed it was as I thought. yah boo sucks to them! Haha.

I had mine done when I was 33 having promised my friend Dan that it'd be something I'd have done before my 30th....only three years late then!

Akelamalu said...

An orchid on my back near my shoulder blade - show or hide it there, however I feel at the time. It didn't hurt, but then I'd taken two paracetamol 1/2 an hour before I had it done!

dulwichmum said...

I had prepared something clever to say, and then I read Rilly's comment! ha, ha, ha.

Coq au vin - it could have been you sweetie!

Drunk Mummy said...

omega mum - I can't help thinking now that it wasn't really as big a deal as I thought it was then. But that's probably because I hadn't had the kids then!

Nunhead mum of one - aha! A woman with a mystery! Now I want to know what the chinese symbol is, but I suspect you are (quite rightly) going to tell me to push off and stop being a nosy cow.

akelamalu - you exotic creature, you!

Dear dulwich mum - either that or the 'cocktail coq'!

Cybil Libyc said...

And I thought I was bad, daring to tattoo an arrow below my navel, pointing down with words "enter at you own risk"