Never Say Never

I know that I'm not the tattoo type of girl. In fact, I started taking pleasure in the "WHAT??!!!" of my friends when I casually mentioned that I was thinking of getting one. Nothing like causing a little shock and awe. But instead of deterring me, their reactions made me want one even more. The major lesson I've learned in my 30s: Be the true person that I am rather than the one people expect me to be. And people don't expect me, the sweet little librarian, to get tatted up. I totally get that. And the funny thing is that I never expected it either.

My deep disdain for tattoos started with my clean-cut-baseball-player-of-a-high-school boyfriend. For the sake of anonymity, I will call him Bif-with-one-f. (Those who know my history will understand the significance of this name and will probably chuckle.) When Bif turned 18, he marched straight down to Deep Ellum and got Casper the Friendly Ghost tattooed on his left bicep. Yes. Casper. The. Freakin'. Friendly. Ghost. (Sometimes you can't make this stuff up).

Yes, I dated a guy with a Casper tattoo. 
Although I was a bit confused by his sudden adoration for Casper, my 17-year-old self had to admit it was kind of cute, and at least his shirt sleeve covered it so my parents would never know. After Bif's fondness for Casper fizzled, and he became obsessed with all things Native American, Casper morphed into the face of an angry Indian chief that took up his entire upper arm. I was so disgusted by Chief No-Longer-Casper that I refused to sit on Bif's left side even though his shirt sleeve covered most of it; I could still feel those creepy eyes starring at me under the fabric  Sadly, that tattoo started a downward spiral of bad decisions by Bif that eventually lead to our breakup. I don't know if Casper was the catalyst that caused Bif's downfall, but in my mind, that tattoo is what took him over the cliff to crazy. Strike One.

When Emily told me that she wanted to get a tattoo during our junior year at A&M, I was horrified. But it was HER body, so I begrudgingly went along for moral support. Emily had the face of a cat tattooed on her hip bone ("Because I will always love cats."), and I just have to point out that 20-year-olds should be warned about the effects of a pregnancy on a tattoo in that location. But that was not on her radar at the time. So as I held Em's hand while that cat's face was permanently etched on her body, she bit me (Emily, not the cat, obviously). And it hurt. So in my mind, tattoos not only took you over the edge to insanity, but they also made you bite your best friends. Strike Two.

Then I became an educator, and what self-respecting educator gets a tattoo? Strike Three. I hate to admit it, but I was one of those judgey people who saw a tattoo on a person and automatically formed a somewhat negative opinion of him/her (my Embo was the exception). I would think, "Oh, you have a tattoo. Now prove to me that you aren't crazy or morally corrupt." Yes, I was THAT girl. I'm not proud, and sadly, I think there are quite a few people like that still in our world today.

So if I have lived 37 years of life without a tattoo, I think it was pretty safe to assume that it would never happen.

Fast forward to last year on a porch in Fredericksburg, Texas. Emily, Tracie, and I were on our Girls' trip, relishing the last time we would spend with Emily before she moved to Indonesia. As the historian of the group, I had a sudden revelation: "Do you realize that next year will be our 20th anniversary of friendship? We met at A&M in 1993!  We need to do something to celebrate."

"Let's get tattoos," Emily spouted off.

"I was thinking more along the lines of plan another trip," I said, shuttering at Em's suggestion.

"Hell no!" Tracie exclaimed. "I'm not getting a tattoo."

Ironically, Tracie is a chef, a profession in which tattoos are worn like badges of honor. But not my T. She was more opposed to it than I was. That's my girl.

"If Tracie does it, then I will." I felt completely assured in this proclamation because I knew she would never agree to it. Tracie was my hold-out. I was safe.

We still sat on the porch and played the "if we got tattoos, what would we get" game. "I'm Gonna Be" by the Proclaimers might be the most annoying song to some, but it's our song, our anthem of friendship. It started on a road trip to NOLA in the summer of 1995. I had recently purchased "Living in the 90s," a fabulous compilation of one-hit wonders from that illustrious decade. We would belt out that song to each other, proclaiming our promise to "Walk 500 miles" as Tracie's Ford Taurus (aka "Blue Thunder") roared down I-10 headed for the Big Easy (but that's the subject of an entirely different blog post). Ever since that road trip, that has been our jam.  I suggested that IF we ever got tattoos, we should get those lyrics.

"One of us should get 'Walk.' One should get '500' and the other should get 'Miles.' We can draw for it. Then the tattoo only makes sense when we are all together."

They didn't like my idea, but they loved the song lyrics, so we left it at that. It was never going to happen anyway.

As Justin Bieber says, "Never say never."

This Spring Tracie and I got together while Emily was still in Indonesia, and we started discussing our next Girl Trip once Emily returned to Texas for the summer. "Remember when we said we would get tattoos. I think it would be cool." Tracie said.

Holy moly. This was not part of the plan. After discussing it more, I realized that it would be the perfect way to commemorate 20 years of friendship.  The truth is that a seed was planted on that Fredericksburg porch, and I started noticing all the people that I know who have tattoos (EDUCATORS! PRINCIPALS! PREACHERS! MOMS! 3 OF MY BROTHERS IN LAW!), and they are normal, self-respecting citizens, and they all have such a cool or funny story to tell about their tatt. I love the idea of a tattoo representing a story because I'm kind of into stories, being a librarian/writer and all. Tracie and I talked about discreet placement and design, and we were in. The benefit of getting a tattoo at 37 and not 20 is that the frontal lobe of your brain is fully developed, so decisions are made with a little more forethought and logic.  Before we knew it, Emily was researching tattoo shops in the New Braunfels area because that was where we would be on our Girls' trip (she's a former librarian. That's what we do. We research). This was really going to happen.

We arrived in New Braunfels on Monday afternoon, and after some porching, dinner, and a trip to HEB, we went to stake out the tattoo shop that Em had found. We pulled into the empty parking lot and the OPEN sign beckoned us. Em and T were sitting in the front seat and looked at one another. "Let's do this now." Trace suggested. "Sure!" Em exclaimed. "I'm ready!"

I had a true freak-out moment. "I'M NOT READY!!!" I screeched. This was not part of the plan. We had ice cream in the trunk for Heaven's sake! You should not go get a tattoo with perishables in your car! The girls started cackling because apparently my voice got really high and was freakin' hilarious. It was probably one of those "you had to be there" moments, but I think "I'M NOT READY!" is going to haunt me for the rest of my life. We agreed to go back on Tuesday. Common sense is my contribution to the friendship. It would be Tattoo Tuesday.

After a leisurely morning of coffee, reading on the porch, and being sucked into the HGTV vortex, we went back to the tattoo shop. We walked in and were greeted by brightly painted walls and cleanliness, two great qualities of a first-rate tattoo establishment. We all gave each other the look to say, "This place is perfect." But they were booked, so we made an appointment for Wednesday afternoon and put down a $20 deposit to hold our spot. We were a bit disappointed because now we were all READY (no ice cream in the trunk this time), but making an appointment made it seem a bit more legit, like we were going to get highlights. So instead of getting tattoos, we hit the outlet malls and we hit them HARD. We even bought coordinating Coach flip-flops so that we could be classy ladies with tatts. We then ate like ravenous carnivores at Rudy's. Let me just say that we do not eat girly food when we get together.  The likes of a vegetable was not eaten on this trip. Unless it was fried, Tex-Mex, or dripping in BBQ sauce, it did not pass our lips.

Wednesday rolled around and it. was. time. I put my mad technology skills to use and made an Animoto video to tell our Tattoo Story.  So here it is...complete with THE SONG that inspired it all.

 I do not have one ounce of regret about getting this tattoo, and the truth is that I am contemplating getting another one (Sorry, Mom & Dad. But if it's any consolation, it will be a Tattoo for Jesus, and I promise to use my fully-developed frontal lobe to make the decision). I don't anticipate getting a full sleeve, although book quotes and the faces of famous authors trailing down my arm would make me one bad-ass librarian. But I don't think I could sit that long for that amount of work. I have serious respect for those people who can stand hours of that needle going under their skin. About ten minutes was all I could take, so sadly, no sleeve for me. But getting a tattoo has not changed my character or made me a bad Mom, educator, or Christian. It's a daily reminder of my love for two amazing people who will be in my life always.

Twenty years of friendship started in Aggieland. Even though different states, countries, and continents have kept us apart, we would "Walk 500 miles" for each other. And we have.
Senior Elephant Walk, 1997
 And we always will. Just like the tattoos etched into our skin, our friendship will last forever. It's permanent.

Girls' Trip 2013


  1. I love this Amianne! I always thought you were an amazing teenager, teacher, wife, mom and librarian but now you are an amazing blogwriter AND middle age adult! I love your post about your decision to get a tattoo and I love how it all has meaning to you and your friends. You are true to yourself and what a life lesson that is for your daughters (all 3). I must admit I have toyed with the idea at my age (62) and who knows I might actually do it one day but I might have let that window close - time will tell. But kuddos to you for stepping out of your "comfort" zone of what others will think - an awesome story and sounds like an awesome friendship!

  2. Thank you so much for your comment! And the window never closes...


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