A wife and 2.4 tattoos
When did everyone suddenly get tattoos? And marginally more sinister, why do I want some? I’m in my early forties, married with three children, and suddenly I have a yearning for three hours worth of ink-work on my upper arms. What gives?
Maybe I’ve watched too much rugby league. Perhaps it was being surprised at what nice lads those brothers from Good Charlotte were on their recent visit (and they’re covered in the stuff). Or maybe the constraints of my fortysomething life have lead me to believe that defiling myself would be some sort of rebellious act. Whatever the catalyst, I’ve had a paradigm shift in my view on tattoos. In particular with reference to whether they should appear on my body somewhere.
I grew up in England in the working class, naval City of Portsmouth, where tattoo parlours were plentiful and usually sheltered menacingly under railway arches; their windows covered in wire mesh.
Faded blue Popeye anchors were de riguer around town, or possibly a subtle swallow on the hand, where thumb met forefinger, holding a fag. Some blokes went for ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’ on the knuckles of each hand. In the pub where I worked the summer holidays, one punter had ‘Hate’ on one fist, and ‘More Hate’ double-spaced on the other. I grew up thinking tattoos were more aggression than expression, and I avoided blokes with cobwebs on their necks.
These days though, everyone seems to have one. I can’t think of an American singer or actor without something – the females especially. Australia’s cricket vice captain, nice-boy-next-door, Michael Clarke has a shoulder-full and more writing on his forearms. And frankly I like all of it, and want in.
I may still have some confusion around whether my shirt should be tucked into my jeans or not; I haven’t got the confidence to wear those really pointy business shoes; and I’d certainly never get my ear pierced, but a couple of big splashes of ink carved into my shoulders FOREVER doesn’t seem so bad.
The one problem I can envisage, relates to those Portsmouth roots. Given that I’d like my tattoos to have real significance, the tattoos I have in mind are the English three lions on one shoulder, and the Portsmouth crest on the other.
Other than a sick child, there is very little else that will get me up at 3am in the morning, apart from a Pompey or England soccer game. Such commitment seems to demand a permanent place on my upper arms. Kevin Pietersen had the three lions done on his arm, and he’s South African isn’t he?
The trouble is, my chosen designs seem, well, a bit bogan. If I was a Kiwi I could have some Maori tribal markings and wear them with pride. Can I help it that my particular tribal markings normally come with a soccer shirt, a bit of Burberry and a “what are you f-ing looking at, mate?” They might make me look like a hooligan, but if I’m getting a tattoo, then I have to keep it real. I’m proud of my roots, no matter how aesthetically unappealing they might seem on paper. Or an arm. Can I help it that my tribal markings aren’t as appealing as other people’s tribes.
I’ve set myself a goal: lose 20kg in the New Year and the tattoos become reality. Chavvy tats on flabby arms aren’t a great look. I need to be a tiny bit buffed before I go under the needle. Given that losing 20 kilos has been my New Year’s resolution for the past eight years, the local tattoo artists of Manly can probably cool their ink jets a little longer.
I have in my mind though, that when I take off my shirt at the next pool party my kids are invited to, no doubt by children of professional people on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, and reveal my new ink, the effect I’d like to have on them is: “wow, he looks like an overweight man in his forties with small children and a very homogenous existence like us, but underneath he’s had a tortured upbringing and is probably quite a dangerous character who has tried hard to conform”. Then I’ll put my shirt back on and have some brie and some dip. Crisis, what mid-life crisis?
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