I Want More Tattoos and for People Not to Talk to Me

My goal is for someone to be able to look at me from 6 feet away and know that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about.

When I was a small, impressionable child with the bouncing innocence of a chicken nugget in a carousel, I’d hear the same few mantras uttered every time someone with a lot of tattoos came into view: “oh, she’s never going to get a job,” “what do you think her parents would say,” “why would she do that?”

What I wish I knew as a kid was that all of those questions have very clear answers built in. She’s never getting a job? Then how did she pay for all that cool art. Shit costs money. What do you think her parents would say? Hopefully that they support their child because rejecting a family member because they wanted to change their appearance is functionally the same as exiling your aunt Gretta because she’s been hitting the gym. Why would you do that? Because she wanted to, and there are probably a variety of more specific reasons why within that umbrella of wanting to do something and doing it, but nobody is entitled to that information, so it doesn’t matter.

“Children, you can’t kick me out of the family just because I’ve got a better mile time than all of you.”

I love tattoos, but I only have one. This is less from lack of motivation and more from lack of money. I’ve seen some amazing art for sale at tea shops, and I’ve gotten close to buying it, but then I see the price, and I realize that seeing a beautifully vibrant painting of a bee is not quite worth a month of rent. The same goes for adding art to myself. It’s expensive, and I also wouldn’t get a tattoo of a bee because permanently imprinting the likeness of my mortal enemy upon my body seems like an invitation for something unfortunate.

The only tattoo I have was obtained under interesting circumstances. During my first summer back from college, I was involved in a somewhat stressful situation that culminated in my flying to California to stay with a friend, drinking more alcohol than currently exists–including a really awful fruit loop vodka that tasted like the color yellow–and getting a tattoo from one of two absolutely stoned artists that had been invited to the house I was staying at for something amazing called a ‘tattoo party.’

I’ve had just the one tattoo for about five years now, and though it’s not very noticeable, I love what happens when people learn what it is: their opinion of me develops with no necessary influence from me. That’s the ideal, that’s the goal. I want someone to be able to look at me, analyze the available portions of my exposed skin, and then know enough about me that they won’t talk to me further. And I want more of it. I want to wear on my arms the imagery of what matters to me. I want to hide my legs in tangled symbols vines of meaning that are clear only to me but still leave an impression of intent on an audience. And I want to hide art around my body, images that are just for me and anyone unfortunate enough to see my legs above the knee. 

Welding hoods and SPF 65,000 sunscreen are the only things that protect against the blinding pallor of my legs.

Of course, this is a crazy fantasy, not because I don’t want to cover myself in the symbols and iconography of all the books that have influenced me as a person and all the imagery that I’ve come to associate with my identity, and probably something about cats, but because I’m pretty sure once I get enough, people will look less at them individually and more at me as someone who they’re worried will be a bad role model for their children.

Jokes on them though, because I teach impressionable young adults away from home for the first time.

18 Replies to “I Want More Tattoos and for People Not to Talk to Me”

      1. I saw someone on TV who had a tattoo of guns on his forehead. Come to think of it, that was extremely repelling. He had been arrested for a violent crime. Not the sharpest tool in the shed.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t know if I could pull off the gun look. I might want to go for the same effect without the implicit message that I like guns. Maybe I’ll just get a ton of tattoos of cats and nobody will talk to me because I’ll be wearing my cat lady-ness on my sleeves

        Liked by 1 person

  1. The only person whose tattoos have ever made me decide maybe I’d rather not talk to them is the young man who works at the little market in my town. He has an Iron Cross on one forearm and a very homemade looking “don’t tread on me” declaration on his other forearm. He comes across as not very intelligent to begin with so gods only know what he believes those things mean, but I’m willing to put money on it being nothing good / constructive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, that guy is probably a pretty terrible conversationalist/person. I’m hoping to use tattoos in the opposite direction. Like, if I got enough tattoos from books and and dorky stuff I fell in love with during grad school and probably some flowers because I’m getting into vibrant tattoos, will people stop trying to talk to me at bars because they’ll be able to tell we wouldn’t have much in common?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe! But you also run the risk of the opposite happening: the looky-loos who want to know the story behind every one of your tats. I have a heavily tattooed friend who has real issues with people feeling like they have the right to just come up and start touching their body art and ask a million questions about it. Some people seem to think that tattoos are all meant to be conversation pieces. And gods forbid your story is something as simple as “I just like birds, Janet. That’s literally the only reason I have one engraved in my flesh. No deep spiritual meaning, nope. Just a big fan of chickadees”. People get surprisingly pissy about it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hmm is this a risk I’m willing to take. I feel like I’ve had a taste of the uninhibited analysis of strangers just because I used to always look tired. I loved that people saw the bags under my eyes and took it as license to say I looked awful. How much of my personal space will I be sacrificing to cover my body with art… And how hefty of a stick will I need to say that my chickadees are my damn business, Janet.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My tattoo was also unplanned and a result of over-indulgence in beverages. I shave my head, grow a beard, and wear a scowl–it works well for me, but it’s not for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Something about alcohol just makes it easy and way more fun to get a permanent mark embedded in yourself.

      I don’t think I could pull off the shaved head, and I don’t quite have the right stuff to grow a beard, but I can scowl like a professional

      Liked by 1 person

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