The morning of the last day of my 30’s dawned and as the darkness in my bedroom faded to gray, I found myself completely, totally, and quite instantly awake. Being someone who generally greets the onslaught of morning light as something to be ignored, then battled (with the appropriate angry huffs, squeezed eyelids, and blankets thrown over head), and then finally endured with bleary-eyed resignation—this instantaneous wakefulness was a bit of a shock.
It was as if my body was saying:
This is it, sweetheart. Better bleed every last drop out of your 30’s. I’ll give you from now until midnight. And, then, babe? It’s all over.
Or something like that.
I’m nothing if not fatalistic.
So, I got up, showered and put my hair up in curlers (yes…curlers), and headed to my closet where I rifled until I found the pinkest, prettiest, most feminine dress I own. Donning the dress, I slipped my feet into my highest heels and headed back to the bathroom where I applied makeup with a level of artistry and care that I generally reserve for only the most special of occasions. Pulling my hair out of the curlers and, after styling and generously spritzing, I stood in front of the mirror.
I could practically hear Natalie Wood singing, “I feel pretty…oh, so pretty…
Because, my people, the very last day of your 30’s? A girl should feel pretty…
I then walked into my kitchen, sat at my counter, opened my laptop and began to work. Because, last day of my 30’s or not—I had work to do and really? I didn’t have any plans other than work and maybe ordering some takeout for dinner.
Around midday, my husband wandered into the kitchen,
Chris: So, you ready?
Me: Ready for what?
Chris: Your birthday gift.
Me: It’s not my birthday.
Chris: I know that. But, I’ve planned a birthday surprise for you today.
Me: But, it’s not even my birthday party day.
Chris: I know that as well…
Me: What sort of surprise?
Chris: Get in the car and you’ll find out.
So, I get in the car and he begins to drive us in the direction of downtown all the while saying things like,
So…are you ready for this?
I hope your ready for this!
So, now I’m madly running through what he could possibly be getting me that I’d need to be “ready” for. All I can think of is that zip lining is on my bucket list and as I gaze down at the pink fabric of my dress, I think,
Well, if that’s the surprise…frankly…no, I’m not remotely ready for that.
I mean, I’m wearing a push-up bra and stilettos for godsakes…
Then, before I can further contemplate how utterly ill prepared I am for any sort of physical activity and wouldn’t it be JUST like a man to think that a girl could go zip lining with bangled wrists, a studded handbag, and liquid lined eyes—the car stops.
We get out and I find myself looking into a salon.
I did spend a ridiculous amount of time on my hair but, sure, why not? I’ll have a salon day.
Then Chris guides me away from the salon entrance, past two heavily pierced and tattooed women smoking cigarettes, and toward the entrance of a…
Sweet mother of mercy.
I mean, I’d been discussing for some time (and by some time, I mean literally years) a tattoo inspired by this picture:
But, I had never discussed a time frame for actually getting it done.
And yet, there I stood, about to enter a tattoo parlor, on a day when I just happened to look more like a Stepford wife than I have ever looked in the entirety of my 39 years and 364 days.
Which, by the way? I have never in my whole entire life even stepped foot inside a tattoo parlor. I honestly don’t even know for certain if their called “tattoo parlors." Maybe that’s dated. Maybe their tattoo shops now. Or tattoo galleries. What do I know?
About tattoos? Nothing.
I walked in and was instantly and utterly the LEAST cool person in the entire place.
As we waited for Nick (tattoo artist extraordinaire that my husband had made a consultation appointment with), I stood and began to fidget with--what seemed now to be—the completely ridiculous bracelets on my left wrist.
Ahead of me, a gorgeous girl with a dark sleek pixie cut, casually torn jeans, and a stud glinting in her perfect nose was lying on her back having angel wings tattooed on her flat stomach.
To my right, a large, rough looking cat with tattoos trailing up his overly tan arms where they disappeared under his frayed denim vest was having what appeared to be an eagle tattooed on his scalp.
And, you know what?
Say what you want, but I would bet every last stupid bracelet clanking on my ridiculous wrist that, that dude?
He has never once in his life…
Nick, who was working on the upper arm of a man who was looking at me with an expression just shy of a sneer, finally looked up and said to Chris,
Oh hey! Are you Chris?
Nick: So you want a tattoo? What were you thinking?
Chris: Oh no…not me…my wife. *gestures in my direction*
Nick, Sneering guy, Belly Wings, and Eagle Scalp’s eyebrows all shot up in unison.
Nick: (recovering) Oh…*clears throat*…Ok…sorry..what were you thinking.
To which, I might have replied:
I was thinking of a book with the pages bursting out and away as if birds in flight.
That would have at least given the gist of the thing.
Or I might have said:
I’m wanting a book themed tattoo. I have a picture I can show you.
Or, simply and succinctly:
Or even, with the spirit of the tattoo parlor upon me, I might have said something like:
I was thinking of a book sort of …you know…fucking exploding.
Any single one of those things would have been better than what I did say. But, no…what did I say as I stood teetering in teal heels, completely surrounded by a level of fringe oriented cool that I shall never attain? (mostly because I say things like “fringe oriented cool”)? I blurted with a level of urgency that was entirely unnecessary, bordering on inappropriate:
I like to read!
It’s as if my mind, taking in the situation, thought—You know? I’m not sure this Stepford getup is enough to convey just how much of a straight-laced dork I am. I know…how about I announce loudly and inexplicably to the entire room how I like to…you know…
Wtf? People seriously. Can we just pause here to collectively shake our heads and mutter a perplexed,
Nick didn’t really know what to say.
So, then I began this quick speaking stammering thing I do when I’m nervous:
Me: I’m sorry…I just didn’t even know I was coming here…Literally, I mean…we just drove up…I had no idea….and here I am…so I’m just trying to wrap my head around…
And, ended the whole thing with the urgent pronouncement:
Tomorrow’s my birthday!
Nick continued to look at me, his head cocked to the left, apparently struck dumb by my insanity. Mr. Sneer transitioned to an amused expression.
I then took a deep breath and somehow came up with the words to convey what I wanted in a tattoo.
Mr. Amused began to look slightly interested.
Nick began to nod.
He then asked where I’d like to have it done. To which, I replied my wrist and up my forearm. Nick’s eyebrows shot up a second time. Mr. Amused grinned appreciatively and muttered, “cool.”
I then busted out my cell phone and showed him my photo inspiration. Nick was offering some ideas for how he might improve upon the idea and then quickly added,
“Or, I can do it exactly like the picture. Either way.”
I was beginning to feel like I was hitting my stride with this whole thing and so I did the only thing to be done at that point: I took it a step too far.
Of course I did. This is me we’re talking about.
So, when he offered to adhere to the photograph or use it as an inspirational starting point, in a moment of total insanity, where I was clearly feeling more cool than I have any right to EVER feel, I stood there in my pink dress with my platinum curls and said very slowly, lingering over each word, like I’m Louie Armstrong or…I don’t know…Jerry Goddamned Garcia,
Whatever…I mean…you’re the artist….
Because, 3 minutes post my, I like to read, urgent dork blurting—I’m now a super chill girl who says things like, maaaaannn--long and slow.
Yeah. For sure. That’s believable. I’m certain I totally pulled that off.
Nick, for his part, took it in stride and replied the only way he could. He laughed, nodded, and offered an appreciative,
Several weeks later, my tattoo, or, as I lovingly refer to it: My--"I like to read" dork branding--is complete. I'm not even a little bit more cool and still occasionally look like a Stepford wife.
My husband has taken to calling me his "tattooed mama." Timing this new term of endearment to usually align with my geeking out in some way:
Me: It's crazy! It's like the author is INSIDE my head...conveying exactly how I feel in words more perfect than I could ever muster. He's writes, "True Security lies in the unrestrained embrace of insecurity - in the recognition that we never really stand on solid ground, and never can." It's like...yes, yes, YES!
Chris: Ahhh...I feel ya, my tattooed mama.
To which, I always reply,