Boy + Girl + Army + e-Harmony = Captain and Mrs. Butters! This is what we're up to. Observations, opinions, events, images, and more.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Thinking About Ink

No, I'm not planning on getting a tattoo anytime soon, but I have been thinking about tattoos in I thought I'd write about it.

This particular cycle of pondering started when I read this article, which was posted on the Army's Facebook wall. It's about individuals who have gotten tattoos to honor fallen loved ones who have served. Now, that's not something any of us with loved ones in the military want to think about. (In fact, writing about it is giving me a mild case of the chills). But the fact is, not everyone who goes to war comes home. It's something we all have to be aware of. (I think "accept" might be too strong of a word...that possibility is something I know I'll never be entirely at peace with.)

So, almost against my will, I started thinking: if my worst nightmare came true, would I consider getting a tattoo to commemorate and remember my husband? And I think the answer is "yes," or at least "possibly." As some of the interviewees in the article mentioned, it would be an indelible remembrance of someone who was loved indescribably, and a way to keep him close. I really do think it would be comforting to look down and physically see some aspect of my husband with me, all the time, wherever I went. As I read the article, I even knew what such a tattoo would look like for me: a very small emblem of his rank on the inside of my left wrist, with his initials incorporated somehow into the design.

I hope no one thinks I am too callous or crass for thinking and writing about this. Yes, it's a serious subject, but no, I (personally) don't think that musings such as these tempt fate. I read an article that caused my thoughts to go down a certain path--that's all. And my imagination has never been something I've had complete control over. (Sometimes that's great, and sometimes, like now, it's kind of eerie.) I also told Spike what I thought, and he agreed that a visual reminder of someone you lost too soon might be therapeutic, in a way.

Anyway, after those rather sobering paragraphs, here are my thoughts on tattoos in general: I've lightly toyed with the idea before, but never in a serious way. I've never seen anything that I liked well enough to get inked onto my body. (After all, tattoos are there for life! Unlike hair, which you can do pretty much anything to and be guaranteed a do-over eventually.) I definitely think it's a good thing that I've never acted on any of my "this would be kind of cool" whims...because then, I'd be walking around with the White Tree of Gondor from Lord of the Rings on my lower back. Great books, but I'm glad I'm not forever stuck with a reminder of them as my late high school/early college self considered.

Also, as an artist I'm intrigued by tattoos. Some tattoos, that is. I'm sorry if I offend you, but sometimes ink is just plain tacky. For example, the first tattoo I ever remember seeing was my uncle's. He has a panther's head on the top of his forearm. It's badly drawn, and the ink seems to have bled and faded. At first glance it looks more like he's got a glob of dirt on his arm rather than a recognizable image.

However, there's almost always a flip side, and that's definitely the case with tattoos. Some truly are works of art that happen to be on people's bodies. I'm definitely not in the "All tattoos are dirty and trashy and I'm too good for them!" camp. The fact that I don't have one (and may never) doesn't mean that I look down on tattoos or the people who have them.

In fact, two of the most arresting tattoos I've ever seen have been on people I know. One woman has the outline of a bird in flight on the nape of her neck, extending into the hairline. You can't see it when she wears her hair down, only when it's up, and the first word that comes to mind when I try to describe it is "ethereal." The other tattoo that I haven't been able to forget is a fully and richly colored image of a pomegranate (you know who you are if you're reading this!) on the underside of the forearm. It's gorgeous, but more importantly, it's loaded with love and personal meaning.

So, to end: Tattoos are very personal things, and certainly a matter of preference. What are your thoughts on tattoos? Do you have any? If not, what (if anything) would prompt you to get one?


  1. What a lovely post, I don't think it's weird or morbid at all. I've thought about a tattoo for years, always had piercings but no ink. I was going to get a tattoo of the Picasso peace dove on top of my left foot for my 30th birthday, but then I broke my left foot on my 30th birthday! Not sure if that's a sign of what, but now I'll have to wait until my initial Army training in over before I get anything. My husband has lots of tattoos, including a full sleeve. Some have personal meaning, some are merely works of art. Suum Cuique!

  2. Awe, thanks Meg! I love my Pom...its probably my favorite tattoo. I dont think its morbid at all to think about a commemorative tattoo if the situation ever presented itself. I think in general, when we say goodbye to our husbands, there's always that tiny little what if in the back of our minds (and mine's only leaving on a ship, which is much safer than a boots on the ground deployment)...

    I personally love tattoos...I love to hear the meanings behind what people choose and I love to see the different styles and colors and everything. I do think people should really put thought into what they get. I was an idiot at 18 years old and got a stupid tribal sun on my lower back that meant nothing to me and I ended up having it covered up a few years later. So, now I have to really love and idea and have thought it out for a while before I get it inked on my body. I still want one more... a stack of books with a ink well and pen on top, but I haven't decided where I want it yet.

  3. I've always admired good tattoos, but I don't have any myself. I did an independent study paper on tattoos when I was in college. The way I see it, a tattoo is a commitment. I wasn't ready to have something inked on my body that I might feel stupid about in my 40s. Or my 80s! I guess something beautiful and artistic will never go out of style, but so far I'm not ready to take the plunge.