Monday, September 22, 2008

Permanent permissions

I’m all about “freedom to express yourself” whether you’re in or out of a relationship.

So you can imagine how surprised I was at my OWN reaction when the man offered up this piece of information recently:

“I’m getting tattooed today, I’ll call you when finished.”

Hmm. Okay. No biggie. Just some more ink to think about. But I had an adrenaline rush that I couldn’t quiet explain.

Was it a hormonal reaction to the idea of a change? Tattooed men are yummy and “newness” in a year old relationship is always exciting.

Or was it an almost-anger based reaction to the fact that a permanent decision was being made without my input?

The shower curtain is one thing. Communication is not always necessary for the altering of household items or getting or a haircut… because these things aren’t permanent.

Hair grows.
Shower curtains can be repurchased.

But tattoos are forever.

I spent the day wondering (okay, obsessing) over what the new body paint would look like. Was it just more work on the almost-finished right arm? Was it my name on his chest? Was it the Grimace Tattoo he’d threatened me with when I expressed my unfounded love for the Purple-Milkshake-Eating-Monster?

My imagination had run away with me and when I finally saw what had been done to my man’s arms, I was at once relieved yet still curious.

Each ½ sleeve had been finished. The colors were more vibrant and the things he thought needed fixing had apparently been “fixed.”

But I knew that he was in pain from them.
My good-girlfriend-reaction made me want to take the pain away and fix it and the bad-girlfriend in me wanted to tell him that “It was his fault” he wouldn’t be able to sleep.

“What permanent change have you made to your body today?” I asked, half joking, half not.

He showed me like a proud teenager and I said they were “cool," unsure of the most favorable response people with ink might expect.

“Well, I hope you like them,” I said. “They will be around FOREVER.”

“I do,” he responded. “They will be around as long as you.”


Chrissie said...

What do YOU think? Are tattoos something a couple should "discuss" (much like shower curtains) or is it a "my body, my decision" type of thing???

Михаил Калинин said...

It's a very interesting question and one that I, thank goodness, have never had to worry about as my girlfriend met me after I got my first (and to this point, only) tattoo. I doubt that any amount of discussion between a couple will dissuade the tattooee from wishing to get their chosen piece of work placed on their body, but a lot of good can come out of a heart-to-heart when it comes to the situation you are describing. I was single when I decided to get my 8x11 on my back, and the only source of possible objection I had at the time was my family. My mother told me to only get it done if it was something important to me, and my father essentially backed her up adding that he felt I had chosen a good piece of work to permanently imprint in my skin. I was lucky in the fact that my brother in law has a multi-colored phoenix on his calf (stretching from ankle-to-knee) and my parents didn't object to my sister marrying him. I'm certain it didn't hurt that he had finished med-school when he proposed to my sister, showing that he wasn't some rebellious kid who recklessly got inked to "stick it to the man."

But I digress. Discussion between couples, I feel, would be very important. My girlfriend and I have discussed her desire to get a tattoo of intertwining leaves of grass on her shoulder blade due to her love of Whitman's famous work. I told her the same thing my parents told me. She should only get it done if it was something that she wanted to be reminded of for the rest of her life. As of two years after the initial discussion, she has yet to actually take the step and get it done despite the fact that I support her desire to do so.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if it is something truly important to the individual who wishes to get the tattoo, it shouldn't put you off that they want to get it done. If it is just an impulse decision, chances are, your discussion will dissuade them from getting it done. I know that after 8 years of deliberation, nothing short of someone physically holding me back, would have kept me from getting mine done.

Sten said...

I think people in relationships should be able to talk about what is important to them and to share in what each other is excited about – even if it isn't necessarily your cup of tea.
I DON'T think you should feel the need to "ask permission," but share with them your plans so they feel a part of the process.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Sten.