By Karen Wielinski
Trendy Elmwood Avenue, with its eclectic variety of shops and restaurants, has become part of my daughters and my pre-Christmas celebration for a day of shopping and lunch. It is not somewhere I usually visit other times of the year, but during my 60th birthday celebration, it warranted a summer excursion.
After lunch, my daughter Jill announced that she wanted to see if she could have another tattoo added to her body “art gallery.” Her collection started with a band symbol, followed by a puzzle piece in memory of her Dad. I had always toyed with the idea of getting a tattoo, so I felt that with Jill by my side, I might have the courage to do it.
Jill and I are not alone in our desire for tattoos. They have been discovered on mummified preserved skin, ancient art and archaeological records. In the past, they might have been seen as a form of rebellion. Today, they are a form of expression, and even fashion, to people of all ages.
I was surprised to learn that there is even a Mattel Tattoo Barbie. Perhaps Barbie regretted getting inked. Would parents leave her sitting on a store shelf, fearing she might encourage their children to want tattoos? In all fairness, though, Totally Tattoo Barbie did come with temporary tattoos.
We found a tattoo parlor that could accommodate us, but had to sit in the waiting area for awhile. This gave me the opportunity to peruse the many samples pinned to the parlor’s walls. Most of these were of a Gothic nature, which did not seem to meet my idea for a simple, small tattoo.
“It has to be bigger,” Jill insisted. “You want people to be able to see it.” Luckily, a tattoo designer quickly drew a design that satisfied both Jill and me.
My husband Doug’s pet name for me was “Sunshine.” I am not sure where he received the inspiration to settle on this nickname, but since we were both fans of James Taylor, I like to think the thought crossed his mind when listening to “Carolina on My Mind,” which includes the line: “Karen, she’s the silver sun, you best walk her way and watch the sun.”
It was for that reason that I chose a sun for this foray into the world of tattoos. It expresses his love and the warmth he brought into my life.
We couldn’t help but overhear other customers’ requests for services. More than tattoos were being etched on human skin. Forget piercings of ears, noses and tongues – I listened in disbelief at what other private parts of the anatomy would leave with dangling appendages. Ouch!
Finally, my number was up. I left my comfort zone and placidly followed the tattoo artist to a small room. To control the sense of panic that crept over me, I focused on a can of grape Crush sitting on a counter. I am not sure why I chose that item. Perhaps it reminded me of orange Crush, which reminded me of orange Nehi, a drink that was a treat during my childhood, and presto – comfort. The artist skillfully added a discrete, blazing sun to my ankle that caused me minimum pain.
Jill left that day with a feather that transformed into a flock of birds on her wrist. At a later date, her gallery was expanded with a rather large family tree and a cat on her back.
As we left the parlor, the proprietor told me, “You’ll be back. One tattoo is never enough.”
I doubted that.
Jill now tells me she may add another tattoo to her list. After writing this piece, I admit I am contemplating returning to the tattoo parlor.
I like her birds, but I look at those veins on my arm, and that thought takes flight.