The Family Rebel

Daily Prompt:  Tattoo…You?   Do you have a tattoo? If so, what’s the story behind your ink? If you don’t have a tattoo, what might you consider getting emblazoned on you skin?

“In  my day, tattoos were for sailors, whores and convicts,”

That’s what Gram said when I showed her my first tattoo about a week after the ink had set.  Her ultra-conservative, Roman Catholic lifestyle wouldn’t have allowed her to imagine a woman intentionally marking herself in this intimate, permanent way – unless they were a streetwalker.

“But that’s adorable!”

So much for my rebel status.

Image Source: Warner Bros.  Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Image Source: Warner Bros. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

I tried really hard to create waves in the family pool when I was 26 by being the first person in my family to get a tattoo.  The image I had of a person with a tattoo included a sneer, a pack of smokes rolled up in the sleeve and maybe a gap between the teeth and definitely a big-ass bike.  I wanted to be that guy..uh girl…

Apparently, though, it was only the latest in a long list of what-the-hell-did-she-go-and-do-now stunts I pulled.  So by 26, my  family was long immune to my inner rebel and her crazy antics and simply took it in stride.  Damn!

When I started dreaming of getting a tattoo, I thrilled in the badness of it.  Of course, at 14 you’d expect butterflies or Marvin the Martian.  No, no, not rebel-y enough for me!  I knew I needed something that would propel me to the top of my social caste as an anarchist, punk-rocker (wannabe).  I spent hours thinking of the dirtiest, nastiest thing I could ink myself with to shock the establishment and piss off my parents but nothing seemed rebellious enough.  And really, my sensible voice would always take over and scream:  “HELLOOOOOO!!!PERMANENT!”

So, I started to experiment with drawing on myself.  My favourite was the pictures I drew at the corners of my eyes in various markers or eyeliners…as close to a tattoo as I dared.  My mother was neither shocked, nor alarmed by this or the Siouxie and the Banshees eyebrows I would draw in with thick black eyeliner to give my artwork a frame next to the checkerboard I scissor cut into one side of my hair and food dyed to give contrast….

Perhaps it’s because the world was becoming a visually startling and bombarding environment, but no one was really shocked.  Perhaps it was simply the dawning of an age of tolerance for “different”.   Either way, I wanted so badly to be a rebel but by the time I had the guts to do anything truly rebellious, it was passé.   I can thank Axl Rose, Sid Vicious and Tommy Lee for that, I suppose.

My First Crappy Tattoo; yes, I'm a hockey NUT!
My First Crappy Tattoo; yes, I’m a hockey NUT!

Two kids, 2 cesareans and 240 pounds gained and lost later, my adorable little belly tattoo isn’t quite as sexy as it was 18 years ago. (cause now I know what a good tattoo looks like…).  These days it has a “character line” in it; but it’s still my first – and firsts are always special.


13 thoughts on “The Family Rebel”

  1. I love what your Grandma said– I think I terrified my Grandmother when she saw I had a tattoo but apparently she’s been talking about wanting one now (she’s in her 80s and has Alzheimer’s). How many more tattoos did you end up getting??

    1. That’s awesome your grandmother wants one…better late than never! I ended up with only three. I’ve heard it’s addicting and you want more once you start…which is true – I do want more. I wanted a full back tree of life with my Sun/Moon yin yang as its roots…but I’m not that brave.

  2. I got my ink at the age of 26… isn, just before EVERYONE ran out and got one, so I was a rebel for all of about two years. In true fashion I decided to go big, and got a full back tattoo. I had drawn up a thunderbird in native Northwest fashion, complete with an orca and hummingbirds. At the time it meant something, but the older I get the more convinced I am that it means I was shortsighted. My majestic bird now looks like a fallen kite, and the detail of the hummingbirds looks more like the orca sneezed. – I went to a great tattooist, but age and gravity win every time 😉

  3. I don’t know much about hockey but I’ve always enjoyed the stories behind tattoos of brand loyalty. My first tattoo was a small one high on the shoulder, safely unseen in anything with sleeves, of an old Ducati insignia called a Flying “D”, unrecognizable to all but hard core Ducatisti. I agree they’re addictive but it took 18 years for next one which was a bit bigger…okay, you’ve seen my gravatar, a LOT bigger. Got some more, want some more. Enjoyed your story. Respect REDdog

    1. Thanks REDdog. I love your Celtic Cross (at least it looks like one!) I actually started reading your blog a while back because of your profile pic! Mmmmm…Ducati….. 🙂

      1. Yep, spot on Danielle, Celtic crucifix. You’ve been reading my stuff? It kinda deliciously stalker-ish doesn’t it? Thanks hey. I’m in the middle of a piece on my ink at the mo’, stay tuned. Looking forward to reading of your stuff when I’m not on this teensy phone. Cheers Rd

  4. Yep, spot on Danielle, Celtic crucifix. You’ve been reading my stuff? It kinda deliciously stalker-ish doesn’t it? Thanks hey. I’m in the middle of a piece on my ink at the mo’, stay tuned. Looking forward to reading of your stuff when I’m not on this teensy phone. Cheers Rd

  5. My Granny had a whole list of, “nice girls don’t” rules. And it is the image of her brother’s faded and aging ink that keeps me from doing more than buying the temporary kind. They are nice when you need a change – or want to shock your husband – but they don’t have to be there forever.

    1. “Nice girls” are the ones boys bring home to mom and marry. 🙂 But you’re right there’s nothing less attractive than old, faded ink! I’m more squeamish about piercings though.

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