Diary of a tatted Mother
When I was sitting in tattoo salon almost 20 years ago, I never thought it would become the first of many times that I would visit ‘the chair’. I can even remember the smell that filled the air. It’s a familiar smell that anyone with a tattoo can relate to. I remember flipping through books, pictures and images of previously drawn characters that the artist had inked. I found what a perfect representation, of me was, at the time. Tweety Bird! But wait. It was my freshman year in college and I was such a fan of Warner Bros. I watched that Bird get chased all day and even though I knew how the story ended, I was fixed to the television for every episode. I think I would be accurate in saying I missed a lot of studies because I was watching the cartoon network. But that’s a whole different story. I will book mark it and remember to tell you all about how the lifetime movie network along with the cartoon network was a big influence in my academic probation one semester.
After finding the perfect Tweety Bird, it was still missing something. I had a very short-lived experience as a USM and after being sworn in, I claimed the MOS of MP. I had to tie that in somehow. I flipped through more and more pages. I found some with cross bones, some with swords, some with initials, some with fedoras, and others with the Marine Corps acronym. None impressed me. Soliciting my creative sense (all that I had at that age) I decided to give my sweet little tweety a double –barrel shot gun. I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread that the artist said, “Yes, of course I can freelance that.” He drew up the stencil and got to work. A bird holding a shotgun, real clever huh? I asked him to ink me on my upper right shoulder because I was the queen of a sleeveless shirt back then and wanted it to be visible. I signed the CYA documents, showed ID and took my seat.
He put on gloves like he was about to perform major surgery, cleaned the area where he placed the stencil and pushed the ink through the pen. At the sound of the tattoo pen I remember cringing. It was worse when it took the first dig. While looking down at the stained concrete floors, I sat through it. An occasional joke took my mind off of it and before I knew it, it became numb. Again, something that only a person who has a tattoo will understand.
The outline was not as bad as the shading and coloring. That’s the real dig. It took maybe 45 minutes to an hour and cost me 75 bucks. Before I made it back to school, I already wanted another one. Ahh! The tattoo addiction began. It wasn’t 6 months later I was getting Axel Rose’s ‘trigger’ happy (Guns’ N Roses) tatted on my upper left. 6 months after that, I got Yosimite Sam on my ankle. How is it that one becomes a tattoo addict? You’re asking the wrong one. What I can tell you is, I do consider it a talent to be able to freelance a tattoo. I will also say that some of the work is real art. It’s an expression for me. However, I will add that we shouldn’t make permanent changes to a temporary situation that could last a lifetime. IE: At the time I was a tweety and marine enthusiast as well as a die-hard Guns N Roses fan. I never gave thought to what I may become in the future and how those particular tattoos may impact the situation.
Once I did grow older I found myself constantly having to defend the tattoo, explain the tattoo and still risk the judgment, even after it became a faded memory of my past college years. In order to deal with it, my entire wardrobe changed at one time to employ clothing which only had sleeves. It wasn’t about acceptance totally because I loved and still do love my tattoos. It was about the professional code of conduct. It was about elegance for me. I could not find anything elegant about the ones I chose at a time in my life when it was most fitting, to bring into a brand new beginning. I didn’t want to forget but I didn’t want the distant memory to be a hindrance either.
I still consider myself a tattoo enthusiast, with an appreciation for the art. I currently have seven tattoos. I currently want more. I also currently think I can find better ways to spend my money though. What I have taken from my tattoo experience is that the ones I choose should be timeless. I should be selective about where I place them. I absolutely love the ones I have chosen in recent years, as they are all meaningful and sentimental. They are a compliment to my personality and I am extremely comfortable with them as well as showing them. They are not the center of attention for what they say, they are not the elephant in the room for what they may mean or imply falsely and they are not up for discussion. I have embraced my tattoos as a part of who I was, who I am, who I’ve become and what I can potentially be. Just make sure when you choose your next one, you keep that in mind. Sincerely, a tatted mom.
Niedria D. Kenny
The D, is for Deon - same name as my son. The only child AKA Prince Cornelius; he's the Prince in "Prince Cornelius and his Magical Friends" a book dedicated to the life and growth of my child.