Thanks for considering adding me to your lineup — I do love me some tattoos. Here are your questions, answered; I hope it’s stuff you can use.
1. How old were you when you got your first tattoo?
Barely 18. It was my freshman year in college, I went with a guy in my dorm I had the biggest crush on, it was his first one, too. We were never boyfriends (alas), but we’ll always have Berdoo Tattoo.
2. What made you want to get your first tattoo?
One of my friends in high school had one (scandalously!), and she inspired a conversation one day, a bunch of us talking about, “If I ever got a tattoo, I’d get…” Couple months later, the opportunity presented itself, and voila.
3. How many tattoos do you have? If only one, do you want more?
I’ve been tattooed eight times, by eight different artists, but one is a cover-up, so only seven of them “show.”
4. What is your tattoo story? Tell me the most recent or your favorite.
They all have stories, ranging from “Cuz my friend was getting one that day, too,” to “In memory of my friend who died quite suddenly.” The sea turtle is probably my favorite, for lots of reasons, including its location — for years I longed for a forearm tattoo — and the awesomeness of the workmanship she put into it.
September 11th of 2001 was something of a traumatic day for flight attendants. I happened to be in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, and to tear me away from the constant and chaotic news coverage of my workplace being flown through the side of someone else’s, my friend took me snorkeling. We’d only been in the water a few minutes, and we were practically swarmed by these sea turtles. They calmed, they comforted, they fed and frolicked, and they communed, at least with me, on a spiritual level that I have experienced in the Animal Kingdom neither before nor since. We were both strong swimmers, but we followed them way too far from shore — we couldn’t tear ourselves away. An ocean full of oblivious fish and sympathetic sea turtles shifted my focus dramatically, and made clear to me that the Circle of Life is so much bigger than we are, and so much more important than the events in any one life or of any one day, graphic and horrifying though they may be. Like the waves in that same ocean, Life rolls on. Towards you, then over you in the blink of an eye, and then, yes, on without you. The honu is my totem animal now; I visit them often and learn something new every time, and with this tattoo, I can carry with me (and, some days, access) their strength, their grace, and their spirit of adventure. Also, it’s just a gorgeous tattoo by an artist who “got” me and what I was going for, which I think always shows.
5. Tattoos on a significant other, like or dislike? Why?
Love ’em. In my book, Kiss Me, Straight, Todd flips for his straight co-worker Josh, whose torso full of cheap, off-the-rack tattoos lends him a bad-boy-gone-good aura and heightens his sexy factor considerably. In my real life, when I met my husband, he didn’t have any tattoos, didn’t have his nipples pierced — I had a lot of work to do. And this kid went big, which I love about him. He waited for the right tattoo and for the right artist (who did my sea turtle), and for his first tattoo he got a huge phoenix-man the length and half the breadth of his back. And he’s 6’3, 350, so that’s a commitment to ink. I think a well-chosen, well-executed tattoo shows a sense of adventure, a creative spirit, and a certain tolerance for pain, which are three deal-breaker qualities for me in the romance department.
If you have a tattoo story, let me now if the comments. I would love to feature you on Tattoo Tuesday.