Only Parents, Children, and Dead People (2)


Right Upper Arm – 50’s Sailor Jerry Pin-up Girl – 23 Years Old

I love her. I have spent hours combing through flash of old Sailor Jerry tattoos until I see her. Her dress is swirling, shades of blue, not like the ocean, not like the sky, but steely and cold, starched and stiff. Her arms are defiant and behind her head. Her breasts are bullets. Her tiny waist is cinched and gathered with a gold belt. Black hair curls and swirls underneath a sailor hat.

She is curvy like me since I swore off the anorexia of my youth, since I grew tits that men stare at. But she doesn’t seem ashamed. She tells them to go ahead, stare, but in the same breath she says, fuck you.

My husband says no. It’s too soon. I just got the 20’s Girl five months ago. There is something amiss, something in the air that whispers we are no longer the adventurous couple who moved to Minneapolis on a whim, a dart thrown with closed eyes at a crumpled map of the United States. We have moved from the basement apartment filled with dumpster dived furniture, a naked mattress on the floor, the overhead lights that flickered and blinked like a lightning storm.

Five years later, we own a two-story house with a drafty dining room and wood pillars, a chain link fence and privacy hedges. He mows the lawn. We watch sitcoms on TV. We have two children under the age of four who toddle and spill plastic toys across the floor and color the walls with permanent marker. Five years later, we’re barely breathing between the chaos of his brother’s suicide, my depressions that seem to stretch on for weeks. The only conversations I have are with myself.

I go to the tattoo parlor anyway. I sit for hours while Adam stains my arm with color. The needles sting and sing as they travel, feeling light and sharp on the fleshier parts, deep and invasive where my skin runs thins. He wipes up the blood that rises to the surface with a paper towel, touching me gently like a mother cleaning a child’s scraped elbow.

He uses ink from the 50’s, from the basement of some old tat artist who died, whose family auctioned off his vintage vials and tattoo guns. No one will have blue like her, like metal or ice, like bullets and steel. She spans half my arm, from shoulder to elbow with her shapely legs and high heels that pinch her toes. She’s sexy, but sharp. She goes ahead and gets what she wants. Like a tattoo, even though her husband says no.


11 Responses to “Only Parents, Children, and Dead People (2)”

  1. me likey!

  2. 6 pinklightsabre

    Me second the likey!

  3. I love this series. Well done!

  4. 9 AR

    I like the tattoo stories.

    • Thanks! There’s a few more installments. I use them as a way of telling an overall story, how each tat represents a pivotal moment in my life.

  5. I got me fremch postcard, merci beaucoup!! very awesome!!

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