Probably the number one question I get about my tattoos, besides "I WANT TO LICK THEM," which is not actually a question, but a statement mumbled at me by strange men on the street, is this: "What do they mean?"
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? Argh, as if I didn't already have that question bouncing around in my brain daily as I ponder the inevitable end of my tiny, purposeless life. Must I always be RUMINATING?
No, but really. They don't mean anything. I'm not even sure what they possibly could mean since they're most just pretty flowers and forest creatures. But "I just think they're pretty" is apparently not an acceptable answer to these meaning-mongers, bred on reality tattoo shows in which every tattoo comes with a heartwrenching back story usually involving a dead family member. No family members were harmed in the making of my tattoos!
Then there's the sister question of "Why do you get tattoos," which I can most truthfully answer by saying, "I wanted to look cool." Shallower and shallower! (There's some other stuff in there about reclaiming and owning my body after our contentious history together, but mostly, looking cool.)
Recently an aquaintance asked me about the meaning of a particular tattoo, and I explained that it was purely decorative, then added, "People always want there to be some big, meaningful story about them, like they represent cancer or something." He responded, "My tattoo is actually about cancer." Then another aquaintance turned around and said, "I have a cancer tattoo, too!" So obviously plenty of people attach a lot of emotional meaning to their body art, which is awesome.
I'm just not one of them; asking me what my tattoos mean is the equivalent of asking me what my hairstyle means. It means I'm super-fly, aight?
Should I just start telling people my tattoos are all about cancer? Or maybe pick a funnier disease, like diptheria? (That one always used to get me on the Oregon Trail.) ALL MY TATTOOS ARE ABOUT DIPTHERIA, OK?
Or perhaps you can help me make up an emotional backstory for these occasions? I really don't mind people asking, but they always look at me like I'm a mouthbreather when I confess their lack of meaning. Below, a few more of my tattoos and the dumb answers I've given when asked about them.
"They're just... you know, bows..."
"I'm a writer."
"I like to read" and "You know, like a pin-up girl?"
"I just like leopard print...like, Bettie Page?" Unless the asker is a child, in which case I go with "I'm part leopard." They totally believe it. Suckers.
Does anyone else out there have tattoos that are the permanent equivalent of a pair of pretty earrings? Alternately, would you like to share their deep meaning with God and Internet strangers here today?