Giving society the bird…

November 7, 2011

In life, some things are a given. Death, taxes, fantasising about your grand entrance at your 20 year High School Reunion doing a slick moonwalk to Smooth Criminal clutching your Nobel Prize for Literature (or maybe that’s just me)—and public censure for mutton with tatts.

See, I’m thinking about getting another tattoo—specifically, my beautiful hummingbird created by the talented W H Chong—to mark the occasion of having my first book published. There will only ever be one First Book. A few years ago I wouldn’t have cared whether or not it was socially acceptable for a slightly more creased and sagging version of myself to ink up. I’ve never really worried too much what others think (that’s a small lie – I cared a little bit, then did whatever I wanted anyway) but this time there’s an internal debate going on.

I’m not sure exactly which day it dawned that it takes two or three hours for my sleep-creases to drop out, you know, the ones on your cheek and décolletage (had a go at writing a M&B decades ago and swore I’d never use that word; you’d think with our vast English language that we’d have our own word for it instead of pilfering from the French), or even which year I tried on my favourite LBD and it no longer covered my stomach let alone my arse. I’m sure someone, somewhere, has written a book about appropriate dress-sense for the generations, and I’m positive there’s a whole chapter dedicated to Generation Xers who still sport piercings and wear their first pair of Doc Martens with a tartan mini.

I think it (the dawning) started around the time my then six-year-old daughter pointed to my then sixteen-year-old tattoo of a fairy and called it a troll (cue: tirade about monstrous babies with no consideration for non-childbearing hips and who kept me awake for two years solid, to boot).

I’ve been thinking about the old woman in the Circulon ad. I think she looks kinda cool. Maybe her Celtic armband is just clever makeup for the sake of provoking public censure for mutton with tatts, or maybe it’s real and she was paid a s@%tload of money to pretend it’s her greatest regret. I think she’d be pretending, anyway. I prefer to believe that she once rode all night on the back of a Harley with her arms wrapped around her one true love. I like to imagine they escaped small-town minds and they stopped by a tattoo parlour, somewhere far away, to mark the occasion. I prefer to think there’s a story behind it. And nobody should judge her for that.

Assuming the viewing public are shocked and disgusted by an octogenarian with an armband brandishing an egg-flip (I’m actually shocked that she’s still in the bloody kitchen), where does that leave me? In another 20 years will my beautiful hummingbird have bled out or disappeared under a roll of flesh?  And will my grandchildren* recoil in horror? Will I point to my tattoo and rasp, ‘That, kiddies, is my biggest regret’?

I think not. I will have regrets, but they’re more likely to be about things I didn’t do, than the things I did. Therein lies my answer. I’m sure some people regret getting tattooed, particularly when it involves eyelids, scrotum and a skinful of beer at 4am. But when my grandkids** ask their granny*** why she has a weird-looking stain on her drooping décolletage, after my tirade about monstrous children, breastfeeding and the unkindness of time, I’ll probably just smile and say, ‘Let me tell you the story’.

* Future grandchildren

** I said FUTURE grandchildren

*** I am not a granny yet

PS  The photo is not me. It’s not. Enough disclaimers for you?

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