Today I finally told my mother I had gotten a tattoo.
How did she not know, you might be wondering, since all of you who sometimes read this blog or Tablet or are friends with me on Facebook know about my bumble bee etching. Well, my mother doesn't know how to use a computer. (Today as she sat in front of my laptop to read an essay of mine that I had wanted her to see, I had to hover nearby to press the "PgDn" key for her. True story.)
While I may joke that I am a Luddite since I have yet to purchase a smart phone, my mother actually is one though I don't think she stands her ground on principle as much as fear that if she presses the wrong button the computer will self-destruct. Anyway, as a writer who reveals a lot about her personal life online, my mother's handicap has freed me to reveal way too much.
Which brings us back to the tattoo. Since she would never happen up on the Tablet article or my Facebook photo album nor was she inclined to glance down at my ankle though I have worn many short dresses and short shorts in front of her since spring/summer began, I felt like I had to say something. Just as I did when I asked her to give me my chuppah money for my student loans, I sat her down in a coffee shop. "I've got bad news," I began then hedging slightly, I added, "Well it's not really so bad. I mean, you may not like it but I'm not dying or anything." Deep breath. "I got a tattoo," I finally told her.
Now cue to my shock to her total lack of shock or abhorrence. She asked to see it and then said, "It's pretty but did it hurt?" she asked. I recounted nearly passing out because it hurt so much, which I had expected. But what I hadn't expected was how painless this conversation was turning out to be. If she was at all upset, she hid it exceptionally well, which I don't think is the case since no one in my family knows how to hide any sort of emotion, especially distress or anger. "I really like it," she declared after taking a second look. "Did you really think I would be so upset?" she asked me. I nodded. What I didn't tell her was why I was thought she'd be so upset, that I thought she'd see this permanent mark on my body as a sign that I was "off the derech" (off the path) in permanent, irreversible way and that the symbolism of it all would crush her.
Perhaps she already recognized this. Or perhaps I was reading far too much into this tattoo. Maybe it is just as she said it was -- just pretty.