At this point in my life I’m pretty sure that the number of times I’ve been poked with a needle during a medical procedure is more than the number of birthdays I’ve had. I started kicking the idea of body ink around when I was about fourteen after one of my surgeries put me in the hospital for a month and left a very noticeable scar down my back.My parents aren’t anti tattoo so much as anti stupid tattoo ,which in my dad’s mind means a tattoo that a person just for the sake of having a tattoo. My mom thinks agrees and often adds,(because she’s an artist) , that something that is intended to be permanent should be well drawn . Her major stipulation was that she go with me to meet whoever I wanted to have the tattoo done by and see examples of their work before getting my done. She wasn’t going to let just anybody with a tattoo license near me. My dad’s only major stipulation was we could not get a tattoo before the age of eighteen and we had better not expect he or mom to sign a consent form for a tattoo we wanted before that, if we wanted one bad enough we’d wait.
My folks don;t think that getting tattooed makes you tacky, classless, or immoral, they did however point out that tattoo removal was often more expensive and a lot more painful than getting one done in the first placce if we decided we didn’t want it later. Even though both me and my sister discussed tattoos growing up I believe I was the first of the two of us to tell our parents that I would get one someday. My dad doesn’t get the attraction lots of people have to ink because he personally has a strong needle phobia, so when I announced this his response was to ask me why. To be honest my thought process hadn’t gotten past because it would mark aas different in a way I could be proud of as opposed to the way my disability made me feel, when my sister spoke up,”Look dad, she’s been poked with needles her whole life without much choice either way. At least with a tattoo it would be because she wanted it and something pretty would come out of it this time instead of a scar.” And with that my sister got the “Best Sister Ever” award and the last word.
I didn’t get a tattoo until several years later and dad didn’t see it for several days after because he drove truck during the week and didn’t come home before Friday and I had it done on a Wednesday. I remember he hugged me took two steps away because he was looking for mom,took two steps back, looked my arm,”Does it wash off?” “No.”Looks at mom, “You took her.” Not a question. “Of course I did, she can’t drive.”Long pause. “It’s pretty”
Since then I’ve seen and heard both my folks defend my ink to my grandma who Does think that having ink makes you tacky and classless because both of them have noticed some unexpected ‘Side effects” to me having a tattoo. It is an unfortunate reality for lots of people with physical disabilities that we are often mistaken for much younger than we are. I’m 29 next month and even though still get carded occasionally if I’m wearing short sleeves (my tattoo is on my upper arm) they never check to see if my i.d. is fake anymore. There has also been a significant drop in the number of people who talk me like I’m. five, who knew ?