Years ago, one piece of romantic advice initiated a journey of self-discovery that dominated my entire summer.
“Tattoos are hot.”
In retrospect, my crush’s casual reference to a physical preference shouldn’t have been grounds for a sudden interest in the world of tattoo parlors.
But as a recent inductee to the 20-something club, I wasn’t a huge fan of in-depth analysis. So I spent nearly three months weighing the critical questions that define a journey into adulthood.
Tiny butterflies or cute little flowers? Tramp stamp or ankle decoration? Competent tattoo artist or hot, spacey guy?
Memories of the quest return to my mind in spring, when warm weather leads to a public increase in bare skin.
We often forget the connection between relationships and tattoos.
Stories about the meaning behind cryptic arm decorations often initiate late-night pickup lines. And we’ve all heard tales about patient daters who hold a significant other’s hand while he or she receives a stomach mural.
Then, of course, there are the anecdotes about romantic partnerships that inspire skin art.
Consider a 20-something’s misguided mission to flaunt a tattoo to secure her crush’s affection. Or a couple’s often ill-fated decision to get matching tattoos.
We used to consider it the ultimate relationship “don’t.” Given the often fleeting nature of romantic emotions, you can argue anything involving permanent ink is a bad idea.
But wait. Perhaps the rise of removal technology has erased some of the “proceed with caution” warnings that used to accompany his and hers tattoos. Leery of removal? It’s easy to believe inked names as obscure as Melvin can be transformed into a more positive message. Or a cute chain of daisies.
In a weird twist of events, I grew to regard one of the most seemingly permanent relationship pitfalls as one of the easiest to rectify.
At least tattoo removal technology existed. There wasn’t a similar way to erase the embarrassment of prematurely saying “I love you.”
Ultimately, I ended up without a tattoo that summer.
The deciding factor was a sign I spotted near a tattoo shop’s Chinese symbol illustrations. It suggested the shop was not responsible for any skewed translations.
The last thing I needed was a message of world destruction disguised as a proclamation of hope.
I’m still not adverse to tattoos, especially since my temporary immersion in tattoo culture left me with memories so permanent that they might as well be inked.
I imagine that illustration is a little more complex than tiny butterflies.
Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-571-8516.