Breaking news: In October 1991, a 5,000-year-old tattooed man made the headlines of newspapers all over the world when his frozen body was discovered on a mountain between Austria and Italy. You can Google it. I did.

The word tattoo comes, I’ve learned, from the Tahitian word “tattau.” In ancient Egypt, Nubian slaves were tattooed. In the 1800s, because sailors saw them on the bodies of Polynesian girls, they became a big thing with sailors. Now you’re nobody unless you have a tattoo somewhere on your body, especially if your bunkmate at Warren has one and you don’t.

Once, at a carnival in Cairo, Ill., my father introduced me to an old friend who had a belly dancer tattooed on the muscle of his left arm. He could make it dance. I thought that was wonderful. I think it started my lifelong interest in show business.

My Uncle Pete, a sailor in the Great War, had a large rose tattoo on his chest with “Arnetta” underneath. Aunt Mamie could never find out who Arnetta was. Pete would often, under the influence of Wild Turkey, display it at family picnics, weddings and sometimes, to Aunt Mamie’s horror, at funerals. A true story.

In my mother’s day, well-bred ladies would never be seen with a tattoo or even a suntan. My mother said only gypsies and prostitutes had them. She made an exception for Mrs. Roache, the Irish gypsy lady who came to her card parties. Mrs. Roache had a shamrock on her arm. Erin go bragh.

In my mother’s day, well-bred ladies would never be seen with a tattoo or even a suntan. My mother said only gypsies and prostitutes had them. She made an exception for Mrs. Roache, the Irish gypsy lady who came to her card parties. Mrs. Roache had a shamrock on her arm. Erin go bragh.

Okay. Why, you wonder, am I spending so much time on tattoos on Mother’s Day, especially when I’ve written about them before? Because I had long ago run out of ideas on what to give she, who has everything, and this, I think, will make her sit up and pay attention. I’m considering a tattoo. Not on her, on me.

Climbing flowers, fairies with tiny wings, alluring women’s faces and etchings of famous faces are very popular. I’m a liberal, so it would have to be either Hillary or Nancy Pelosi. That would get old.

I dropped in at a local tattoo parlor and watched one being given. There is a lot more screaming there than you might think. I’m not into doing anything to my body that produces screaming, so I’ve come up with an idea.

I’m going to have an artist friend draw something on my chest with colored pencils, so I can wash it off afterwards. I’m thinking a big rose like Uncle Pete’s with a name like “Loretta.” I like Loretta.

I tried to avoid all of this a week ago by claiming that I don’t really have to give her anything. Only the girls should have to gift her. “I’m not your child,” I said.

“Really?” she replied.

I hate when she raises her eyebrows like that. Wait until she asks who Loretta is.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: