DO THIS DON'T: Get A Meaningless Tattoo That Nobody Understands

I think it's funny that I'll take my top hat wearing, parasol holding, gold tooth having narwhal tattoo to my grave.
Publish date:
August 20, 2013
tattoos, mermaid, do this don't, new tattoos, my body is an aquarium, M

I think it's funny that I'll take my top hat wearing, parasol holding, gold tooth having narwhal tattoo to my grave. I think it's funnier that some people have issues with silly tattoos that are on someone else's skin.

For my 18th birthday, I only wanted two things: an eyebrow piercing and a tattoo. My friends and I made a hobby out of loitering in a seedy tattoo shop because, teenagers, so I got both of my wishes in pretty short order (although I’d be willing to bet that the dudes working there pierced 12 year-olds without parental consent on the regular).

In true 18 year-old derelict fashion, I showed up at the shop 10 minutes before they closed to get my first tattoo. I decided to get a purple Gemini sign directly underneath my bellybutton because A) I’d always be a Gemini, amirite? B) PURPLE! and C) I considered the placement the ultimate safeguard against pregnancy. Considering I was truly convinced at the time that Y2K would destroy us all, this was some fucking brilliant planning on my part.

Ever since then, I’ve had a pretty YOLO attitude when it comes to tattoos. At age 20 on a whim, I got black cats tattooed on my chest which irritated the crap out of a former boyfriend. (I secretly felt like a super cool, untamed bad girl. Like, “LOL, mah BF is SO pissed you guys! I DO WHAT I WANT!”)

I’ve since gotten a Ramones tribute tattoo and what is turning into a massive ocean scene on the left side of my body. This includes a giant shark, a mermaid that spans from my ribs to mid-thigh a hermit crab and most recently, a narwhal that is holding a parasol and wearing a top hat and a monocle. He also has a gold tooth because he’s a sophisticated gentleman.

I give my tattoo artist a lot of liberties because he’s awesome. I have the worst visual imagination ever, to the extent that choosing complimentary colors is often a painful and arduous process. It's only recently that I was able to differentiate coral from pink. I know that I like inhumanly bright, distracting colors and patterns, but even imagining the end result of what a tattoo will look like is extraordinarily challenging for me.

When I have a weird idea, I run it by my tattoo artist and he makes it look cool. I trust him completely because he's the artist and I'm the bitch who wants a giant narwhal. None of my tattoos really mean anything, aside from the fact that they’re all things that I like aesthetically. And I just happen to find oversized sea creatures aesthetically pleasing.

The funny thing is that most of my tattoos aren’t particularly girly or pretty, like Emily’s. They’re just weird and elaborate and meaningless, kinda like my general path in life. I’ve never been asked what any of them mean, probably because most people don’t associate their dead relatives with hermit crabs.

Unless I’m wearing shorts or a bathing suit, my ink is mostly hidden. I feel like this gives me free reign to continually get outlandish tattoos. There’s something freeing about not having to explain myself to the world every time I roll up my sleeves -- but I am slowly warming up to the idea of having more visible ink in the future.

Every time I get inked, I can’t help but think to myself that I’ll take each and every one of my stupid tattoos to my grave. You know how pharaohs had tombs full of all the stuff they'd need in the afterlife? I just have cute, funny creatures seeing me off to Valhalla or hell or whatever.

I’ve never understood why some people choose to criticize others’ tattoos. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as guilty as the next person for hate-pinning cliched tattoos on Pinterest (I’m looking at you, cherry blossom trees, eternity symbols and feathers transforming into tiny birds).

But ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I think. If you’re committed to getting the entire chorus of a Styx song tattooed on your ribcage in gothic script, I whole-heartedly applaud you. (Also, I think Mr. Roboto would make for a rad tattoo. Just sayin’.)

I’ve never taken into account what friends, family or significant others would think about my tattoos because honestly, I don’t care. If I have stupid idea and decide to run with it, I’m going to do it regardless of what anyone else thinks. (In fact, if others don’t get it, that may make me want it MORE.) I’m the one who’s paying for it and is choosing to live with it, right?

More than a few times, I've overheard the phrase, "Tattoos are cool, as long as they mean something." Do my gold leopard sandals mean something? Should my bright purple lipstick make a political statement for me to justify wearing it? I wear coffee stains daily, and that actually DOES mean something -- I'm a sloppy mess that requires an adult bib.

Yeah, tattoos are a lifetime thing, but just because they require somewhat of a commitment doesn't mean they can't be FUN. I see an avocado, a cat wearing a fez and a nesting doll with a unicorn design on it in my future. And hopefully an elephant. In the immediate future, there's a squid.

Who knows, I might even cave and get something girly. Flowers, maybe? A Pegasus? Naked ladies riding pterodactyls? The possibilities are endless when you have a few spare bucks and the overactive imagination of an 8-year-old.

Do you have a meaningless tattoo? Are you planning on getting one? Do you think I should get a giant nautilus next? I should, right?