The Question Tatooed on my Brain


This past weekend I witnessed the joining of two souls in matrimony. The word “beautiful” is too weak of a word to describe this wedding. Both the bride and groom cast a golden glow over us all creating a magical night.  It was the type of event that might cause a heady poet to haphazardly scribble down words worthy of Wordsworth on an abandoned cocktail napkin.  I myself had melodious words banging around in my head begging to be written.

That was until………………..

I was standing outside during the reception with my childhood friend, Tim. His gaze seemed to lock on something just past me and he said, “If you were going to get a tattoo, what would you get?”  Flippantly, without thinking or bothering to see what he was looking at, I said, “A martini glass………….a piece of chocolate……. FRIED OKRA………. you know the things that mean a lot to me.”  He looked at me with childhood brotherly affection, laughed, and then returned his glaze to where it was when initiated the conversation.  I decided to follow his gaze. He was focused on the tattoo of an electrical outlet (the photo) eternally printed on the arm of an elegant young woman named Lauren standing behind me.  An electrical outlet tattoo is not something you get on a whim. It has meaning.  At that moment I turned back to Tim and started talking 5,000 miles an hour in melt-down fashion, “Wait. THIS IS SERIOUS!  I don’t know what I’d have tattooed on me. Does this mean my life has no meaning? I mean, my daughter’s best friend has her Grandmother’s name on her back. Do I not care about my grandparents because I don’t have their names tattooed on me somewhere? I guess I could get something tattooed related to my children.”  I was totally stressed.  I abruptly stopped and turned around to ask Lauren about the electrical outlet tattoo to confirm my stress was real, but Lauren had left.

By this point the tattoo question was tattooed on my brain.  I had another opportunity to approach Lauren and ask about her tattoo.  Thankfully, she took no offense to my questions and patiently talked to me about tattoos.  It turns out, her electrical outlet tattoo was chosen because of an interest in borgs, but the meaning has evolved to represent the energy she hopes to share with others in her work as a social worker.  She is proud of this tattoo and wears it as a badge of honor. Knowing how difficult social work is, I understand this tattoo probably more than any other.

I have no plans to get a tattoo, but I feel like I need to be able to answer the question. What badge of honor would I choose? Tim’s question is a question we should all be able to answer whether we have intent to tattoo or not.  I’ll get back to you when I decide.

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