From the Blog

Today Is My Sister’s Birthday

She’s turning 30. Five years ago today, my sister and I got tattoos together.

At the time, my sister and I were sharing an apartment in Hollywood. I knew she had wanted a tattoo for a while. I gave her about a week’s notice before her birthday to start coming up with designs, because I was going to get her a tattoo for her birthday. She asked me if I was going to get one too. I said no.

I never had any intention of getting a tattoo. I didn’t think I could find any sort of image that I would still find agreeable say, 50 years into the future, when I was old and (more) flabby. I didn’t know how I felt about having some sort of artificial decoration on my body. Because what would happen if I wanted to feel totally natural? Like if I wanted to strip everything off, clothes, jewelry and everything else, and go running naked through nature? I certainly couldn’t do that if I had a tattoo.

Through that week, she kept asking if I was going get a tattoo. And I said no. But I began to get an idea for one. I casually sketched it out. It wasn’t hard.  It was a simple little turtle, with a swirl for a shell. I’ve always had an affinity for turtles. If I believed in such things as totem animals, mine would probably be a turtle. Or a sexy leopard. Etc.

So on my sister’s actual birthday, we strolled down to one of a dozen tattoo parlors within walking distance on Sunset Blvd. We lived right near what is known as “Rock n Roll Ralph’s.” The whole street is lined with guitar shops, music places and tattoo parlors.

My sister still didn’t know exactly what she wanted, so she looked through catalogs of designs. Meanwhile, a skinny metal goth kid looked at my turtle design and helped me decide where to put it. He drew it above my rump, on the left side of my spine.

At the time, I was pretty skinny. I had been on what I called the “ex boyfriend diet.” I had gone through a fairly nasty breakup a few months prior, and just the sheer thought of my ex made me want to vomit. It was not really intentional, but I ended up losing a bit of weight. A few months of near-constant nausea can have its benefits.

I’m sort of a big baby when it comes to pain and suffering. I didn’t really know what to expect for tattoo pain. I heard that it hurts more where the skin is “thin,” like over bony areas. But I didn’t know if it was going to be “annoyance” pain, or oh-my-god-I’ve-been-shot sort of pain. Thankfully, my design was fairly small and I had picked a rather “padded” area.

My skinny goth kid started on me, and the needle sounded like a dentist drill. I had to stay absolutely still. It was sort of a scratchy pain. It was not excruciating. But when he worked in one area for a long time, I silently, mentally begged for him to stop. Otherwise, it was similar to getting a haircut. Small talk, chit chat, ink and needles.

My sister had picked out a design and was being worked on by a giant, inked-up dude with a gray beard. Her design was larger and more elaborate. When we compared notes later, it seemed like it hurt far worse for her than me.

In all, the process took a couple of hours. I had my little turtle, and my sister had a feminine scroll pattern on her back. The big Harley dude with the gray beard finished up with my dainty, cute little sister. He solemnly declared in a low, gravelly tone, “You’re one of us now.”

When we told our mom later that we got tattoos together, she was deeply disappointed. She wanted to get one too.

Happy Birthday lil sis. Want to get another?


  1. YES!!! Give me a week to draw it out. What are you going to get???

    The tattoo did hurt… bad.
    The artist who did my tattoo was named “Ace.”
    I would do it all over again.

  2. Everybody! Let’s get tattoos!

  3. Happy birthday Meredith!

  4. Well this reminds me of one of my perennial favorites:

    A lady walks into a tattoo parlor, and asks for a drawing of Elvis on her left inner thigh.

    (have you heard this one? no? ok.)

    So the artist does his best, finishes, and holds a mirror down for the lady to inspect.

    “That looks nothing like Elvis!” cries the lady, “I want my fucking money back!”

    “Calm down,” says the artist. “I’ll give you a freebie, just calm down!”

    So the lady decides to get Johnny Cash on her right inner thigh. The artist does his best, finishes, and gives her the mirror again.

    “That looks nothing like Johnny Cash!” cries the lady, now hysterical. “I’m gonna sue you!”

    The artist, having had enough, stands by his work: “Those are the best tatts you could get,” he says. “Anybody would recognize them.”

    “Oh yeah?” says the lady. “Let’s get a second opinion.”

    So she flags down the next wino she sees stumbling down the street, spreads her legs, and says, “Who are these guys?”

    The wino squints, tilts his head, scratches his beard, and after a long pause says:

    “Well I don’t know about the fellas on either side, but the one in the middle is definitely Willie Nelson.”


  5. Oh, and happy birthday, MG!


  6. Bon Anniversaire, Meredith.

    I’ve been thinking about getting another tattoo for a while. I haven’t been inked since I was 21, and I’ll be 30 this year, too. I’m just not sure what I would get… oh, and the itching… the itching is what drives me insane. I hate being itchy.


    i can’t get my mind around the tattoo idea. I have toyed with it for about 20 years, since my BFF got one in high school. Somehow I imagined myself not being able to wearing the slinky off-the-shoulder column gown to the la-di-da soiree I was going to attend in the future, with a big fat Tigger on my shoulder.

    Now I think about a nose ring. Maybe for my 43rd? Birthday, that is…

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