Should I get a Tattoo for my Fortieth Birthday?

Too late. I’m already 50.

I thought a lot about getting a tattoo for my fortieth birthday. Getting a tattoo seemed like the perfect way to show that I am one bad-ass woman to whom age means nothing! My rebellious heart is still about 19 years old, no matter what my actual years are. My plan was to get a dragonfly tattooed on the small of my back. I often say that the dragonfly is my “spirit insect” because it reminds me of summer and boating on the lake and camping, so a dragonfly seemed like a perfect motif.

While we were on vacation in Key West, my husband and I got henna tattoos. His was a small sea turtle on his bicep and mine was a stylized dragonfly on my lower back. After we got home, my husband went to a real tattoo shop before his henna wore off and had his sea turtle made permanent. I thought about doing the same, and my husband wanted me to, but I wanted a more realistic dragonfly, for one thing, and, for another, I didn’t like the way my husband insisted on calling it a “tramp stamp”. It was a turn-on for him that I had it at all (even temporarily) and he couldn’t resist commenting on it. Repeatedly. “Tramp stamp” is a derogatory term. Used once, it was a funny joke, kinda sexy and cute, but used repeatedly, it just felt crude. Honestly, he ruined my plans for that particular tattoo, since after hearing “Tramp stamp, tramp stamp, tramp stamp” over and over again, I didn’t want it anymore. I was so turned off that I didn’t think about getting a tattoo again until I approached my fiftieth birthday.

I turned fifty without getting a tattoo, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I have been researching tattoos online and my favorites are literary inspired. The best one I’ve seen is inspired by the book, Watership Down, by Richard Adams.

The first primroses were beginning to bloom.
This beautiful tattoo belongs to LiveJournal user smallpio1990

Watership Down is one of my favorite books, but I am not sure literary rabbits are quite the way to go for me. I like foxes. I love the fox character from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry. One of my favorite childhood books was Cinnabar, the One O’Clock Fox, by Marguerite Henry. An amazing, heartbreaking book I’d love to own myself is The Fox and The Hound, by Daniel P. Mannix. The Disney movie version of this book is a tear-jerker, and still is in no way as affecting as the book.

I love the fox aesthetic. They are so pretty, like the best combination of a cat and a dog. I’m a sucker for their orange fur, dainty black feet and pointed snouts, and their big fluffy tails. We have a small community of foxes in our neighborhood. I have felt particulary blessed when they’ve played in our back yard.

A pair of foxes playing in our backyard.
A pair of foxes playing in our backyard.

As a child, I fantasized about starting a club, maybe something along the lines of Camp Fire Girls, that I would call “Foxtails”. I spent a lot of time dreaming up Foxtails rules and activities. Of course, I was kind of a nerdy kid with raging undiagnosed ADHD and limited social skills, so I never recruited anyone else to be a Foxtail with me, but I had a rich fantasy experience with it. An imaginary fox was the Foxtail mascot!

I feel a strange kinship with foxes, so a fox would be an appropriate first tattoo.
Probably. Maybe. We’ll see.

My tattoo will be a fox, maybe like this one, on my right calf!
My first tattoo will probably be a fox, maybe like this one, on my calf on the back of my leg.

Or, maybe I’ll get that tramp stamp after all…a text tattoo that says “Nevertheless, she persisted”.

Did you get your first tattoo when you were forty or older? Tell me about it in the comments!

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