One evening early in our marriage Jane and I were having one of those “would you do this for me?” conversations. We asked all the typical questions…“Would you hold my purse for me in a store?” or “Would you wear this if I bought it for you?” In the midst of our conversation without any forethought, I blurted out, “Would you tattoo my name on your back?”
I cringed while waiting for her reaction. All married men instinctively know that there’s no taking back the words once they leave your mouth. I braced myself for a tongue lashing, which, to my surprise, never came. She instead agreed to have my name inked on alongside cartoon character Betty Boop, her self-proclaimed heroine.
After a lengthy internet search, we found the perfect image featuring Boop in a pin-up style pose that would have made fifties glamour girl Bettie Page blush.
While vacationing in Michigan we stopped at a local tattoo shop. I’m always amused that the guys who run these places are always named “Snake” or “Needles,” yet people trust them with permanent body modifications. I would never have gotten my vasectomy from a physician nicknamed “Snips” or “Tremors.”
The artist in residence must have misjudged us as a couple of tourists looking for a butterfly for my wife’s ankle because he was so shocked by our chosen design, he called for the shop’s owner, a 20-something women sleeved up with a collection of tattoos, each one more horrifying than the next. I figured if anyone would understand an off-beat tattoo, it would be her, but once this cross between Rosie O’Donnell and the Tasmanian devil’s girlfriend got wind of what we wanted, she instantly became a card-carrying member of the National Organization for Women.
“I was married once and I inked HIS name on MY body and look what happened.” She lifted her portly leg revealing a solid block of ebony ink.
“That’s fine, but we aren’t getting divorced,” my wife said, choosing against taking marital advice from someone with the Bride of Chucky immortalized on her shoulder and whose idea of conflict resolution was bragging that “I don’t start any fights but I sure as heck finish them.”
Despite their pleas, we scheduled the appointment for the next afternoon and were awakened the next morning by a phone call trying to convince us to cancel. Later when we arrived, the artist hemmed, hawed, and even lectured us that tattooing someone’s name on your body is a “relationship curse.” We still proceeded.
The owner even called in reinforcements to make the experience as uncomfortable as possible. Wow! Talk about customer service. One member of the peanut gallery even yelled, “Hey, can I get a seraphim put on my back with Satan written next to it!”
My wife retorted, “I’m glad to see how much faith you have in the sanctity of marriage.”
All in all the experience was a pretty good one. It gave us a great tattoo, an inked commitment to one another, and an interesting story. It also taught me that people in the tattoo shops are just as judgmental as everybody else. I figured they would be more accepting of others since they are constantly being prejudged by others. Guess I figured wrong.
Chad Filley is a stand up comedian from East Central Minnesota. You can see a listing of his upcoming shows on his website www.chadfilley.com and he can be contacted via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org