The Tattoos I Don’t Have

Today is day 7 of the #30daywritingchallenge. The topic is tattoos – do I have any and what do they mean?

I do not have any tattoos. I have reasons, beyond a fear of needles, that I won’t go into at this point.

No, my thing was piercings. I don’t have the big plugs in my ears or anything quite that extreme. When I moved to a new place, or even visited a city I enjoyed, I got something pierced. Sentimental? I suppose.

As an adult, my first piercing choice was a second in my ear lobe. I ultimately let that one heal quickly, along with the holes I’ve had since 13. If I wanted to force the issue, I could probably wear earrings, but they make my head look lopsided. The dangly ones are just far too extreme for my extreme hair cut and narrow face.

Back to the subject at hand: When I went to Seattle, Washington for a cross-country canvas for the Sierra Club (we were saving trees and playing hacky-sack), I decided to get my eyebrow pierced to commemorate my first solo trip across country. Well, sorta solo. I rode with someone but had no family or friends backing me up. He loved flannel shirts, and wore hippie skirts more often than I did.

Please bear in mind, Nirvana was still around and grunge was a weird mix with the neo-hippies of my youth. Don’t judge us.

My new friend Penny (3 days) went with me to some skeezy shop in the U District where a lady with her own double chin pierced, shot a stud through my left eyebrow. The very first thing I did was snag it on a towel. Christ, that hurt.

When I went back to Kalamazoo, I decided to celebrate with a belly button piercing. We went to a nice, clean shop I had a heard good things about. It was way more pleasant than the one in Seattle. The guy who did it was clean, funny, and quick.

Phoenix was next. After my first year there, I went with some friends to a tattoo place. They were Mormons, looking to get some ink done. I started flirting with the idea of getting something pierced. But what? Everything I considered acceptable had holes already. Inspiration. The tongue! I could get a barbell with actual bells that jangled when I talked and annoy people and myself.

Yes, that’s an actual thought that went through my head. I was really into bells for a while, even had a belt that was seriously jangly when I even thought about breathing. How people didn’t kill me, I will never know. Then again, they made the joke about putting a bell on me because I walk quietly, so maybe they should ultimately take the blame.

Huh. Psychological breakthrough during a blog post. Wish I could say that was the first time.

Anyway, the tattoo place was in a strip mall in Mesa. It wasn’t clean, but it wasn’t really dirty, either. My Mormon friends stayed with me during the clamping, but the guy had to bail before the gun came out. I get it, I had to watch in a mirror. I had this done before it was common, so my piercing was farther back than normal. It didn’t click against my teeth or anything when I talked or ate. A dental lady on the phone recognized it, but no one else suspected until I showed it off. Kinda fun.

The pain from that lasted ages. I won’t lie. They said 8 weeks, and I didn’t take them seriously. It took me 3 weeks to figure out how to eat and I used to catch stuff on it still, 15 years later. Because yes, I had it in that long.

The last time I moved back to Michigan, I thought it was for good. All of my family was there, including four niblings that I am addicted to hugging. They all think I’m a genius, it’s awesome! When I hit thirty-five, I took a hard look at myself. It was time to grow beyond the past.

I still have the belly to pull off the belly ring, and even the eyebrow ring would still work. I just couldn’t, not anymore. In a way, I became an adult the day I took them all out. All of the holes have healed now, though there are still small bumps.

They’re nice reminders.

One thought on “The Tattoos I Don’t Have

  1. I have 2 tats and I got them both after I retired. One is a butterfly that I got shortly after I retired as my sort of rebirth of my new life, then when my oldest grandson graduated from Naval bootcamp my daughter and I went and got the same tattoo that is an anchor with a rope in the shape of a heart around it. Is it really prettier than it sounds. I may some day get one on my ankle, who knows!!


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