Last weekend we were standing in a queue for an ATM in the small market town of Hay-on-Wye. I was convinced to go to the small market town of Hay-on-Wye because it is a pilgrimage for bibliophiles. What is it about the suffix -phile that still makes me feel a bit dirty? I love books. I love every kind of books. Oh my god I’m thinking about books again. I really love books.
We were standing in a queue for an ATM in the small market town of Hay-on-Wye because I was desperate for money for books. It turns out that Powys is yet to catch up on the flash-in-the-pan fad that is card-based transactions. While in the queue, giving the licking of a lifetime to a two scoop from Shepherds Ice Cream Parlour, we heard a woman in the queue behind us comment (loudly) on my girlfriend’s calf tattoo – a calligraphy-looking quote from the (confusing to me at least) world of DragonAge. Specifically, the comment was derogatory towards us but addressed towards her young daughter. “Don’t ever do anything like that to yourself when you’re older” we and the rest of the queue heard her say.
Now I’m all for people saying what they want but only if it isn’t to belittle the appearance of another. There are any number of reasons that people get tattoos. There could be something they are celebrating, something they are covering, something they find inspirational or something they just wanted for the sake of wanting. It isn’t for anyone else to decide whether it is appropriate. Here is my open letter to that rude woman.
Dear rude women in a queue for an ATM in the small market town of Hay-on-Wye,
I do not appreciate your attitude. When I was a young Schierneckerling, my brothers and I were given a series of similar life lessons from mother dearest. She has since come off the boil a tad and now just worries about me getting murked by killer bees in Arizona. She would see someone with a mohawk, someone with a neck tattoo, someone with a pierced nose and instantly condemn them openly to us. She worried we would become a motorcycle gang full of rent boys or something. There are much worse things to be, like a politician. The problem was that each time she pointed one of these people out, someone who had decided to make a mark, stand out, be brave, be different, it only served to warm them to our little hearts. They say girls love a bad boy, well, so did we.
When you (loudly) told your young and highly impressionable daughter that you didn’t approve of my girlfriend’s tattoo, which is neither unsuitable or vulgar to have on display in any way, shape or form, you gave your daughter a way to rebel. One day that little girl will be a teenager and she will be overwhelmed by a desire to do something to royally piss you off, even if you have only ever done well by her and served her food from M&S. I hope she invests in whatever sub-culture is kicking about in a decade. I hope she realises that you’re a fallible human being like the rest of us and can make her own opinion on things.
My brothers and I all have tattoos. They mean something to us. They show where we have come from. Yes, even that one on the back of Edd’s arm of a spider being sick on itself. I’m not going to go into the reason for all of them. I know I have the least (currently six).
We also all have piercings.
We have broken bones.
We have broken laws.
We have made mistakes.
All I am saying is that it goes both ways. You have a lot of responsibility as a mother but don’t expect to not have to change. You are going to have to question the things you have thought and your expectations. Your daughter will no doubt do amazing things but that doesn’t mean she won’t be doing it without a bunch of shit pierced through her face.