Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: TATTOOS

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are straws, studio, stuffed animal, summer job, tattoos, telephone, tennis court, test, theater.


My first memory of tattoos are the anchors on Popeye's arms, courtesy of Saturday morning cartoons. As a teen my brother Ken loved Ozzy Osbourne, and at one point got his fingers similarly tattooed. This was quite scandalous at the time, and I believe it was a homemade job, which made it even worse. My parents were disapproving, and I, being a “good girl,” was also disapproving at the time. Ken acquired more tattoos as a US Marine, but eventually he got the finger tattoos removed.

I myself had a moment not long after giving birth to our third son when I found myself alone in a tattoo parlor on a random morning after dropping kids at Mother's Day Out. I didn't tell anyone, not even my husband, what I was doing. It was MY thing, and I knew what I wanted, and I wasn't interested in hearing anyone else's opinion about it. Was I afraid I'd get talked out of it? Maybe. Was I afraid others wouldn't approve? Definitely. But the great thing about being a woman in the US the very first year of a new century was that I could go get a tattoo, if I wanted to, and I didn't need anyone's permission to do it. So, now, that tattoo has come to symbolize freedom and independence for me – a tiny secret thing that reminds me I can think for myself, make my own choices. I can share it with others, or not. It has nothing to do with anyone else, and everything to do with me being ME. I suspect that's what tattoos mean to most people. They are part of one's identity, a celebration of self. And frankly, anyone else's tattoos are none of my business. Get them, or don't. Just be you!

1 comment:

  1. A good lesson to take from it. Having personal secrets makes us who we are in a good way, at least most of the time.


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