9 || TATTOOS (YOUR MOM'S FAVORITE!)
Hey teeny tiny dinghole,
Take a look at your arms. They're pretty hairy, right? Yeah, I know. Thank god the hair is blonde because if it was any darker you would look like you have pubes for limbs. Come eighth grade a boy is going to make a point of telling you he thinks your arms are mannish and you're going to kindly let him know his head would look a lot better if it wasn't so far up his asshole.
Bit of good news though. That hair is going to become a lot less distracting when you start putting ink all over your virgin baby skin. Tattoos?! Older Coco, how could you? Because I want to be ugly as shit when I'm eighty, okay? I have a game plan. 70% sagging skin, 30% faded blob tattoos, 100% overwhelming sex appeal.
I'm kidding. I mean they'll definitely look horrible when we're eighty, no doubt, but we're not there yet. Truth is, tattoos are something you'll become interested in early on. In case you haven't noticed, dad is fairly covered, so ink is a norm. It won't take you long after your eighteenth birthday to get your first one, courtesy of your graduation money, and extra courtesy of mom promising she won't disown you for it. You'll ask the tattoo artist if it's going to hurt and he'll say, "You ever been hit by a plane and a bus at the same time? It's like that."
You'll never get particularly hip ink, though you will have a couple of arrows thrown in there because you're a piece of millennial trash and I'm just letting you know now so you have time to come to terms with it. Tattoos will be exceptionally important to you because they'll be a deep part of who you are. Some I’m sure you’ll keep until you’re old and screaming at the neighbor’s kids to get off your lawn, and others may need a good zap or ten until they fade away into what will hopefully not be the world’s ugliest scar.
So what are these pieces? Well at this current point and time you have twenty-five (there’s a lot of small ones in there, okay). They range. There’s a giant portrait of grown up Alice in Wonderland on your thigh, a bear on the back of your arm, the female symbol on the inside of your elbow, hands encircling a forest on your side, 9 ¾ on your forearm, a naked lady kneeling peacefully near your armpit (that one’s for Planned Parenthood *pumps fist with gusto*), and a whole myriad of others, including an obscene amount of words and quotes. “All was well,” “Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss,” “ADAGIO,” etc. etc.
I’m only going to fill you in on three. They’re not necessarily my favorite as far as aesthetics go, and I doubt they’ll be your favorites either, but the significance behind their meaning has never changed.
FADE IN: / FADE OUT.
I figure I’ll start with this one because there’s not really a story behind it. Simply put, it’s just important. It has been since you brought the design in to your artist. Screenplays, traditionally, start with “FADE IN:” and end with “FADE OUT.” You’ll get the two pieces done at the same time, one on the inside of each arm in traditional Courier font. FADE IN: on the right, FADE OUT. on the left so that when you open your arms, it reads across, placing you as the metaphorical screenplay in the middle. The point in all of this being that you are always growing and always building who you are. You are always your own story.
I know the reasoning comes across as an attempt to be deep, but it was never gotten with that intent in mind. It just serves as a reminder. And a pretty good one I think. Plus, you’re a screenwriter so might as well put that shit all over your body just to really hammer it in there so everyone knows.
I’m kidding. We don’t suck that much (not yet at least).
SUN & MOON
This comes across as an incredibly basic tattoo, but I like to think the story behind it is slightly less white girl than it sounds. You’ll want a sun and a moon for a while before you actually get it done. Despite years spent searching the internet for the perfect idea, you’ll spontaneously decide to get the thing one day while you’re on Venice Beach with your friends. That’s right. You’re going to see all those t-shirt stalls with their plastic half-mannequins wearing $2 spandex panties that say things like “G.I. HOE” on the butt and think, “Yep. This is where I want to get my next tattoo done. This place seems both inspiring and hygienic.”
The tattoo shop you’ll go to is actually fairly legit. And by that I mean the Yelp review doesn’t say anything about possible infections. After thirty minutes of you and your friends sketching a lot of really subpar ideas (yeah, you use none of that time consuming research you did), you’ll decide on the design literally as the guy calls your name. It’s not a bad one really. A circle cut in half, black on one side, clear on the other with dots as sun rays. You’ll get it on your right forearm sort of off-center above your wrist. The process will be quick, painless and behind a curtain about twenty feet from you a very large sunburnt tourist will be getting most of her body pierced and grunting about it a lot. A couple months later you’ll have your artist fix it for you because, not surprisingly, it looks pretty poorly done.
The significance behind the piece comes across as cliché as the actual piece itself, but you’ll like it, just as I still do. It’s the very simple and very straightforward idea that there is light in all dark. Not a concept that’s extraordinary or necessarily unique, but it holds importance to you and that’s what matters. It will matter long before you get the tattoo and, hopefully, long after. It reflects a necessity in the way you need to approach both your external world and your internal world. From writing fiction – the idea that no comedy exists without tragedy and vice versa – to learning to laugh at just how cruel the universe could possibly be when three family members and your dog die within a matter of months, junior year of college to understanding that sometimes the insanity deep inside your head has to be approached with a lighter touch. All of this and everything in between.
That’s what this tattoo is for you.
“A LIFE LIVED FOR ART IS NEVER A LIFE WASTED”
All right, this one is the third tattoo you ever get. When asked about it, you usually roll your eyes and reluctantly tell them it’s a quote from the Macklemore song, 10,000 Hours. Which is really stupid because you love Macklemore. Okay, bitch? You love him. And, in a lot of cases, you’ll have to justify that love, but that’s okay.
Listen. The first time you see him you’ll be fourteen. Ryan Lewis will hardly be associated to him. He’ll be wearing clothes so baggy he looks like a sack and performing songs from his album, Language of my World, which nowadays most people don’t even know exists. Your god-siblings will go to high school with him and refuse to call him anything but Ben. He’ll spend most of his time in Capitol Hill and more than once you’ll pass him on the street there and exchange a smile and a wave. You’ll see him perform at your sort-of-friend’s sweet sixteen in front of no more than a hundred people and before he gets on stage you’ll catch him sneaking behind the crowd of kids and he’ll put a finger to his lips to tell you not to ruin the surprise and then give you a thumbs up for shoving a truly heinous amount of chicken in your mouth.
In 2011 you’ll watch him cry on stage at Bumbershoot, completely overwhelmed when 12,000 fellow Seattleites fill the Key Arena to see him, long before the rest of the world has even heard of him and, two weeks before Thrift Shop blows up in 2012, you’ll see him perform at The Observatory in Santa Ana in front of 400 people. His then girlfriend, now wife, will sell you a tour shirt. His only stage piece will be a printed banner with him and Ryan Lewis’s name on it. The ticket will cost $17.
Macklemore tends to be either loved or hated. There’s not much middle ground. But his music is at the center of your life as you grow up, so you’re going to love him. He’s born and raised in Seattle when the city is at its best and he represents what you and your friends love so much about your hometown. In 2012, when you graduate high school your class will vote to do the damn thing to Can’t Hold Us. (Fun side note, they’ll also vote to make the teachers walk out to Rack City or the Soviet National Anthem. The teachers will shoot down Rack City. They will not shoot down the Soviet National Anthem. The parents who have no idea what the hell is going on will think it’s a really beautiful ceremony. It will be fucking hilarious.) In 2013, you’ll be in the Can’t Hold Us video and a camel will spit on you and Ryan Lewis will fall 20 feet out of a window at the USC FIJI house six times in a row. It’s going to be sweaty and hot and smell like, what I like to call, a “humpy desert horse” and it’ll be awesome.
You get that quote on the inside of your right forearm because of everything I’ve stated above and ALSO because it’s relevant as fuck to your life. You are an artist raised by artists. You’re not good at much else, but your damn good at that. Watching this dude go from just another unknown Seattle musician that hung around your neighborhood and was occasionally seen sporting a purple denim suit (it was a sick suit) to some giant performer that has millions of fans is crazy. But it’s also a pretty great reminder that anything is possible.
Living your life for art is sort of an insane idea. But it will never be a waste of your time. Not if it’s this thing you’ve so strongly sought after since you were eight (which it is). And even when we’re sitting there on our death bed, I like to imagine we’ll still think that.
So anyway. That’s a little something on your tattoos. All of them have a story, but I thought those three were worth sharing. You can figure out the rest on your own time. Some are short, some are so long they deserve letters of their own. I’ll try and get to those sometime.
I’ll check back in with you soon. Hang in there. I hear puberty’s a bitch.