By: Bonnie Overbeck
Written May 19, 1997
Tattoos really are not all they are cracked up to be. Like black leather pants and tongue piercing their appeal lies in the exotic and forbidden. Yes, I too fell prey to their lure. I became fascinated with "having a tattoo" and so, I told my parents about the idea. For some odd reason they were not as enthusiastic as I about letting some scraggly-bearded man with a naked Betty Boop emblazoned on his chest drag dirty needles across my skin (illegally, mind you) to create some colorful image they were sure I was to regret in a few years. As if that was any justification for their disapproval.
"When you are 18 you can get a tattoo, because that is the law. Personally, I think you should never get one, but at 18 it can be your choice," echoed in my ears. Well, now it was a race, for where was the excitement or adventure in a tattoo approved by the parents? How is it forbidden when it's legal? No, I needed my tattoo, and I needed it now. I wanted to tell my kids someday that I was exotic and dangerous. I had conquered the forbidden.
So, on a whim I sketched up a shooting star. This is an image that has always intrigued me, for one of my greatest fears in life is fading away into nothing. Many brilliant, beautiful people become lazy, lose ambition, and without them even noticing, their former radiance vaporizes; their extraterrestrial matter becoming but ashes. Others become consumed by their ambitions. Their excessive drive for money, power or celebrity leads them ultimately to self-immolation. Neither do I want for my future. I refuse to become ashes scattered about the atmosphere. So I thought, what better to inspire me than a tattoo, a life-long daily reminder, to fuel my own luminosity without letting the flames get out of hand.
I headed downtown to a real classy parlor; Tim's Tattoos it was called... I think. "Hey baby, whatcha lookin' to have done?" Tim purred. Mom was wrong; he didn't have a naked Betty Boop dancing across his chest. She danced on his bicep.
"Can you do this?" I asked, unfolding my sketch.
"Baby, I'm Tim. I can do anything you want... anything. Now, where is this goin'?" I turned around and pointed to the skin on my back, just above my tan line. "This the size you want it? No bigger?" It took me ten minutes to convince Tim that I was not interested in a full body mural.
"Tim, all I want is a little blue star with red and orange and black flames. That's it."
"Baby, you want it, you got it," he replied, then helpfully yanked my Levi hipsters to my ankles. I lay across the chair, and Tim pushed down my underwear. With Victoria's Secret bared to the world, Tim lit his cigarette and set to work. An hour later I gave him fifty bucks (he deducted fifty because I had a "nice ass") and went home. To my shock and disappointment I didn't feel any different. I was not transformed into a seductive sex kitten, clad in leather and chains with a whip at my side. The next day at school no one said, "Wow, Bonnie, you know there is something different about you. Did you become a lawless dominatrix last night?" I guess I just envisioned some metamorphosis in which I would gain hidden super powers. That didn't happen.
Funny how once I got the tattoo it was no longer exotic or forbidden. In fact, the whole idea of "having a tattoo" lost all enchantment. After all when you think about it, what enchanting is there about dyed scar tissue? Don't mistake me. I do not regret my tattoo. Actually I am quite fond of it, though it needs to be re-done by a true artist. Now I see my tattoo as a pretty scar, a decorative battle wound from the War for Independence. Oh well, it could have been worse. Tim did offer me a free clit piercing.
Return to the Top