Why I Won’t Get a Tattoo

I don’t like butterflies or shamrocks or tigers on people (not “on people” as in a man-eating tiger, rather “on people” as in a tiger snaking down an arm). Maybe it’s symbolism these tattooees are after, but here’s what I see: The butterfly lover is an 8-year-old girl at heart, a shamrock belongs to someone with no imagination, and a tiger means you’re able to sit very still for a very long period of time.

See what I mean? Who knows what you could end up with. Photo: StumbleUpon

See what I mean? Who knows what you could end up with.
Photo: StumbleUpon


I don’t understand Sanskrit. Happens all the time: “Hey! Look at me! I’m so current I got a tattoo in a language I’d never heard of before I watched Inked!” Faster than you can say, “Shoulda looked it up myself,” you’re stuck with “French Toast” when you wanted “Faith Lives.” Tattoo-artist practical joke, or legitimate mistake? When it’s on your calf, does it even matter?

"I used to be indecisive but now I am not quite sure."  --Tommy Cooper

“I used to be indecisive but now I am not quite sure.” –Tommy Cooper Photo: Flickr


I’m indecisive. I’ve stepped foot in one tattoo parlor in my life. And I do mean a literal foot—just far enough to peruse a photo album crammed with possibilities: Pages and pages of crowns, birds, quotes, curlicues, skulls…you name it. No wonder people default to butterflies. Either I’d have wound up with a Leopard Lacewing on my shoulder, or I’d still be there deciding.


I don’t like pain. An emergency appendectomy is one thing. Hundreds (is it hundreds? I don’t even know) of needle jabs administered by a guy named Duke is quite another.


Tattoos are forever… Unless you go with your own name (and what’s the point of that, unless you need reminding?), there’s an inherent risk of times a-changin’ and your tattoo becoming obsolete. We’ve all seen celebrities sporting fancy scrollwork designed to cover the name of an ex. Nothing like a constant reminder of your mistake.


…unless you have money. Freeway billboards might advertise laser tattoo removal, but I’ve heard removal is more painful than the actual tattoo. Plus, I’m doubting flexible spending—let alone insurance—covers removal.

Give it 20 years, and this tattoo will practically be invisible. Photo: Flickr

Give it 20 years, and this tattoo will practically be invisible.
Photo: Flickr


I’m getting older and body parts are sliding into the southern hemisphere. Maybe I can’t stop the inevitable, but there’s no point in drawing attention to the fact.

Unconscious Coupling

Driving home the other day I saw an older couple waiting to cross the street. Nothing alarming there, right? And yet the scene evoked the type of fear usually reserved for that gap of time between medical tests and medical test results. Why, you wonder, would such a benign sight make my palms sweat?

Because I don’t want to be like them—because they were dressed like identical twins.

Same bucket hats—the kind that work equally well for fishing as for safaris—same blue sweatshirt slung over white T-shirts, same Arrowhead water bottles, same cargo shorts, same no-show socks in white cross-trainers. If the Reebok Princess came in a male version (the Reebok Prince, perhaps?), they’d be set.

Not a fan of the attire, but it beats matchy-matchy. Photo: Flickr

Not a fan of the attire, but it beats match-matchy.
Photo: Flickr

Right next to sleeping with the closet door open (The Ghost and Mr. Chicken has had lingering effects), my biggest fear is loss of autonomy.

That may sound like a flare shot up from a sinking marriage—which I assure you is not the case—but I’ve noticed the longer two people have been together, the more of themselves they seem to lose. They blend into one, like lines on Bert’s sidewalk drawings in a monsoon. “We like the Sizzler,” they announce, or, “We don’t care for reality TV.” We? I think. Did you two vote? Discuss your options before filling up on all-you-can-eat 3-bean salad and declaring half the night’s television programming off limits?

My husband sees no point in perusing Barnes and Noble once you’ve found a book because his theory is, how many can you read at once anyway? (More than one, but that’s my personal preference.) And I’m happy he loves woodworking, though I prefer just to go buy the piece of furniture and be done with it.

It’s these separate interests that keep us unique and individual after many years of marriage. Plus, it gives us something to talk about over dinner, which never includes 3-bean salad because my husband hates beans. Note we don’t hate beans—just him. And that’s fine by me.

I like older folks—really, I do. But there’s something so tired about parroting your spouse. It’s like individuality just isn’t worth the effort any more. And that scares me more than the idea of aging. That, and picturing my husband in a pair of Reebok Princes.