Tattoo Dilemma

June 9 8:30 a.m.

To tattoo or not to tattoo? That is the question on my mind as of late. I’ve always been intrigued by tattoos but never really considered getting one until my dad passed away in September of last year. I have been seriously thinking about getting a tattoo to memorialize him.

Dad had two tattoos, both of which he got while in the Navy during WWII. His first tattoo, located on his right upper arm, was a bluebird which signified having traveled over 5000 nautical miles. Dad was a radioman and gunner on a “Black Cat” PBY-5 Catalina (a plane known as “the flying boat” because it took off and landed on water) and participated in many patrol and bombing missions targeting Japanese shipping and other vessels in the waters around New Guinea and Australia. The bluebird tattoo was done while he was in a sober state of mind but his second tattoo was a different story. He and a few of his Navy buddies all got Betty Boop tattoos on their stomachs while on leave in San Diego after a long night of drinking. He woke up the next morning scratching his stomach and when he looked down, he was horrified to see Betty Boop permanently emblazoned on his belly. He regretted that tattoo at the time but had fun with it later in his life. Whenever someone commented on his Betty Boop tattoo, which stood very low on his stomach, he would say “you should see what she’s standing on!”

I immediately eschewed getting a Betty Boop tattoo because a bluebird is definitely more my style but I still have serious qualms about getting it done.

My first qualm is the pain factor. I asked a friend who has several tattoos how much it hurts and instead of telling me, she pinched my hand with her sharp fingernails (drawing blood) and said “that’s how much it hurts.” I have a small scar on my hand as a result of her demonstration but it really didn’t hurt that much when she pinched me. However, I’ve heard that the pain depends on the location of the tattoo which was my next worry.

Where should I get the tattoo? The same friend said that I should get it where I can always see it since it’s in my dad’s memory. But, I really don’t know if I want to get a tattoo where it’s visable all the time (like on my hand or forearm). I was thinking that next to my ankle would be a good spot (if that’s not a painful place to tattoo of course!).

Another consideration I had was the bluebird. I wonder if the bluebird “symbol” has any derogatory or weird meanings. I will make it a point to do a Google search on bluebirds. Also I will have to decide on the style and color of the design; I do know that the tattoo won’t be very large.

I will also have to check out local tattoo artists, references, look at portfolios, Google search, etc. I definitely would want someone who has superior artistic and tattoo skills as well as experience in drawing birds.

Finally, my last and most serious concern is if I want something on my body that will likely be permanent for the rest of my life. I don’t see myself getting laser treatment to remove my bluebird and God forbid if I have to get it covered up. I keep thinking that having a tattoo would be like wearing the same clothes every day of my life; however, if the tattoo is well done and not obtrusive, I don’t think I would mind “wearing” it for the rest of my life. I am still very worried that the bluebird tattoo will not be what I envision and I’ll regret getting it. Nothing would be worse than a getting a bad tattoo that was done in memory of my dad. I am so conflicted . . .

So, the question still remains: To tattoo or not to tattoo? I know it’s my choice, but I welcome your opinions and/or advice.



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