Saturday, May 7, 2016

my tattoos

Janis Joplin died in 1970, just a few weeks before my 12th birthday. To say that I adored her is to immeasurably understate my feelings. Just as I had, a few years earlier, imagined that I would grow up to marry Davy Jones of the Monkees, I now had an elaborate plan for becoming a member of Janis Joplin's band. Her death was devastating to me.

But I knew how I could permanently commemorate Janis Joplin's life. I'd seen a picture of her wearing a choker necklace with a red, wooden, heart-shaped bead at the center. I would have that red heart tattooed on my upper chest, just where that bead touched her throat. I visited a tattoo parlor in Gainesville, Georgia, our home at the time. There were two obstacles. I needed $25 and because I admitted my age, I needed a parent or guardian to sign a release form. I felt this would be the perfect birthday gift from Mom to me. Surprisingly, she did not agree!

My poor mother tolerated my hounding, cajoling, crying, begging and what I can only call HISSY FITS for the next six months. But on the subject of a red, heart-shaped tattoo on her daughter's throat, she was firm. The answer was no. And it stayed no. In fact, after a while, she refused to engage with me on the subject. I remember following her around the house asking, "Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?" as she pretended I was invisible. I was relentless. She was unyielding.

Eventually, I gave up.

I have no tattoos. And I'm so very glad that I don't have a heart-shaped tattoo on my throat.

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