Tuesday, November 25, 2014


When my daughter arrived home for Thanksgiving vacation, I knew what to expect. Hair in the sink. Full rolls of toilet paper lasting all of 36 hours. Reservations required for anyone else intending to use the bathroom.

My wife and I were used to all that when she was growing up. But now there was one new addition to the list. As my daughter was sitting up on her bed, doing homework on her laptop, I noticed a little flower tattoo just above her ankle. 

"That's henna, isn't it?" I asked threateningly.

She immediately took on the guilty expression of the family dog who just ate an entire Easter ham when nobody was looking. "Uhhh..."

"Oh my God!" I cried aloud.

"I was going to tell you guys," she stammered, her smile gradually turning to a look of panic. It's rather nice that even now I still have the ability, on occasion, to put the fear of Dad in her.

Frankly, I knew this was coming sooner or later. When our daughter was an adolescent, she was a huge fan of American Idol. One thing the female contestants seemed to have in common, other than being single mothers or lacking any discernible talent, was a visible tattoo. 

If only tattoos were this
tasteful anymore.
To the kids at home, this was just another fashion accessory. To me, having grown up in a Navy town, it brought back memories of drunken sailors. To my wife, it was was the sign of a rapper or ex-con (but I repeat myself). This was especially true when the tattoos covered an entire extremity. Sometimes what I mistook for a turtleneck sweater was in fact a replica of a spiderweb. 

My wife was never shy to let us know what she thought of the women, which, of course, made our daughter all the more supportive of them. I finally had to take my wife aside and explain that the more she complained, the more likely our kid would come home one day looking like an understudy at the Coney Island freak show.

Truthfully, my daughter's tattoo -- or "skin art," as the kids call it -- wasn't so bad, being no more than two inches long. Being familiar with her style, I could tell it was her own design. What the hell, if that was the worst it was going to be, why blow a fuse?

Of course, I wasn't going to let her know that. "I can't believe it! Did you get that in the middle of the night?"

"No! I got it at two in the afternoon. I did research on the best places to get it done."

"Were you drunk?"


"That almost makes it worse!" There was no winning with me, which is the way I like it. 

My kid, however, isn't one to back down when she believes to be in the right. "You know, my friends' parents are younger, and they have no problem with tattoos." Yup, when in doubt, play the age card. One moment, she's telling her friends that her parents are "chill." The next, she's complaining that we're ready for the cryogenic lab.

Well, at least she's getting good grades at college. And unlike a lot of kids her age, whose goal is to land on the cover of Reality Star Weekly, she wants to start a community outreach program, starting with an after-school class for the local children, just to give them a place to do their homework in a nurturing environment. She's actually concerned about the future, rather than a possible record deal. An ankle flower isn't a bad trade-off.

I can bleach it off while she sleeps, anyway, right?


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