I'm happy to announce that my writer's block seems to have been cured. Your ideas are beyond fabulous, so please keep 'em coming. Somewhere, in the middle of your sea of requests, one particular comment hit me like a wad of spit in the eye. It comes from Katherine B, my exceptionally well dressed Texas friend, and it reads:
I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about your tattoos, what they were and what they are now. I don't think I ever heard you tell it though, I think I heard about them from Sarah.
Is nothing sacred? Do I have no secrets? Do you already know that Jared scrubbed the crack of his ass with my awesome new toothbrush last night?
It's true, he did. It's also true that I question the sanctity of our marriage on an hourly basis--but I suppose that's a good post topic to be used on another day. So, without further ado, here is the story behind my tiny little tattoos (yes, that's meant to be plural)....
As a side note, this post should also provide the answer to a question that many, many readers have asked: Amy, were you raised Mormon?
schumck (noun): any human being who gets one or more tattoos on their eighteenth birthday.
I am a schmuck.
On the morning of my eighteenth birthday, my roommate shook me awake and said, "Hey! You're finally legal! Wanna get a tattoo?"
I sat up in my bunk bed, squinted at Ali with some very sleepy eyes and nodded as I heard myself say, "Yeah. Okay."
One hour later we were in her beaten up Honda, headed to the only tattoo place we could find that didn't require reservations. It was in Radford, Virginia--and my oh my, that is one very sketchy town. I could go on and on about the six hour wait, the tattoo artist who was blind in one eye, or the dirtiest Hardee's restaurant on the face of the Earth--but it's never much fun to get bogged down in the details.
I will tell you this--the bearded blind guy never checked my ID (so much for being legal), and he insisted that I sign a contract saying something to the effect of: I promise that I love my body just the way God made it. I promise that I'm not doing this to make myself better in the eyes of other people. God thinks I'm lovable with or without tattoos. That's all that matters.
Then I'm pretty sure I released him of all liability for death, diseases, cooties, and so forth.
I wish that piece of paper had also mentioned the fact that this man was far more spiritual than artistic, because hot damn, he stunk at his job.
Sometime after 7pm I walked out of his shop with two new tattoos--one under each ankle bone. My left ankle sported a teeny blue wing, and I won't lie, it turned out really well. But the right ankle? Well, it honestly looked like someone left one hell of a bruise after kicking me with a pointy-toed hooker boot--nothing but a bright blue blob.
And here's a trusty piece of advice: Never ask a person with one bad eye to give you two identical tattoos.
At that time, I was a D1 collegiate runner on a scholarship--the tats were supposed to be a stealth little set of wings, not one wing and one blue booger. Dang. It.
A few months later, after a glowingly lackluster performance and some ongoing coachly disputes, I quit the team. I literally threw my running shoes in the trash and transferred to a school that was 1,000 miles away. And then, for the next two-and-a-half years I told the following story seventy-zillion times:
Yeah, that's a tattoo.....Yup, that's another tattoo....Well, it's supposed to be a wing....Because I used to run....No, not anymore.....I know, I'm an idiot....
And then I found God.
Honestly folks, there is no such thing as a simple story in my strange little life. No. Such. Thing.
Around that time, my roommate also happened to find God--very convenient. So one afternoon, before Bible Study (I kid you not), we stopped by Tropics North Tattoo Studio. What can I say? We were on fire for the Lord, and we decided to make it known with some permanent ink.
Yes, strange--but it made perfect sense to a couple of twenty-year-olds. Sarah decided to proclaim her faith with a tramp-stamp in the shape of an Icthus (Jesus fish), and I also went the Icthus route, covering both of my wing tattoos with little, purple fish.
Thankfully, this tattoo artist was fully sighted and he nailed the symmetry thing. He was also quite the conversationalist...
ME: Where'd you learn how to do tattoos?
HIM: You don't want to know.
HIM: I went to Bangor Christian school when I was a kid.
ME: Really? You're Christian?
HIM: I got kicked out. I'm still not allowed back on the property.
And then, a couple of months later, I joined a denomination that strongly discourages tattoos and asks women to wear skirts to church on Sundays. This has been very confusing for the children in my Sunday School class...
THEM: Sister Lawson, what's on your ankles?
ME: Little fish. The remind me of Jesus and how important he is to me.
THEM: Are they tattoos?
THEM: My mom says that Jesus doesn't like tattoos.
ME: Well your mom sounds like a prude.
And that my friends, is the story behind my tattoos.
I love my tattoos.