Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Embarrassing Tattoo Story

During the 1990’s, my brother Adam was inked with several tattoos. Some of these were done while he was in the Marines. My sister Sheryl even had a couple. I, on the other hand, decided to get piercings. Nothing too crazy and I soon grew out of this phase of my life. I never thought about a tattoo until I discussed it with my brother and sister before meeting them at my mother’s home in the Florida Keys.

The three of us were visiting my Mom when she lived in Islamorada, Florida. We decided to get a tattoo which would reflect the sibling bond as well as closeness with my mom that we all shared. As far family goes, we have always been extremely close: best friends, confidantes, compatriots, comrades in life, thick as thieves, loyal to the core.  My siblings and I became closer when my parents divorced in the early 90's. We vowed that we wouldn’t ever let each other down and always be there for each other. Twenty-something years later we have kept that vow. 

Adam, Sheryl, and I decided to get a tattoo which would reflect that closeness, that bond. It would be ceremonial in meaning. Mom was excited for us! Something that would tie us together. We decided on the Chinese symbol for "family".  The three of us had lunch on Duval Street, Key West and ended up at a famous tattoo parlor on the island.

My siblings somehow convinced me to go first. This is your first indication that this event wouldn't go how it was supposed to. I suffered through my tattoo. The pain was excruciating. I was traumatized. I felt abused. I knew I would suffer emotional distress from the physical pain for years to come! OK, none of that happened. I was fine and survived. I got a Chinese symbol tattoo about the size of a quarter meaning "family" on my waist.

Sheryl was supposed to go next. In the 2 hours it took to get my tattoo (again, a little fib, it was more like 15 minutes to get the ink splotch), she decided that she wanted to get the top of her ear pierced! Oh the humanity of it all! The treachery! The disloyalty! I took it all in stride. After all, my big bro was next in line to get the now blistering Chinese symbol tattoo weeping on my waist.  I knew I could count on Adam to remain loyal to his little brother.

Yeah right. Adam, during my tattooing and my sister's ear piercing, was busy looking through the countless tattoo photo albums scattered around the parlor. Adam said something like, "Sorry bro, but I want something more tribal."  Eghads! I was thrown under the tattoo bus again! Was our family bond no longer sacred?  I was the only one who got this friggin' tattoo!!! I would have gotten a something cooler! Something like a snake, a scorpion, I don't know ... just something other than this friggin' symbol!!!

The only satisfying part of that day was seeing my brother turn white as a ghost from the pain of having a long tribal tattoo scraped into his mid abdomen down to the thigh along the crotch area. Yes Adam, I went there. Adam, at one point, almost passed out from the pain. And I stood by with a devilish grin on my face.

So here I was with a tattoo the size of a quarter, which could be mistaken for a large birthmark, if the birthmark was in the shape of a Chinese symbol that meant family. My sister had her ear pierced in a painful place, of which I enjoyed her discomfort. And my brother had a large tattoo over a 1/3 of his torso. Ditto on enjoying his pain. It sort of made up for the fact that my family loyalty now gave new meaning  to the phrase, "Everyone for themselves." But I jest. It made for a good story and over the years, I grew to like my little tattoo.

Years later, while working at the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia as a purchaser, I found out something out about my little tattoo which could be described as ... the icing on the cake.  I was picking up my work clothes from our uniform room which was run by a very sweet diminutive older Chinese woman named Lucy. I knew Lucy ever since I had started working at the hotel. I don't know why I suddenly chose this particular time to show Lucy my tattoo, but I went for it.

"Hey Lucy, how ya doin'? Did I ever tell you that I have a tattoo on my waist which is a Chinese symbol? It means family because my brother and sister and I are really close! Do you wanna see it? Do you? DO YOU?"  I was so excited that I could actually show someone my tattoo who would know what it means!

"Yeah, OK Marc, show me your tattoo," she said eyeing me cautiously.

I lifted my shirt and exposed my tattoo to Lucy. She looked at it a minute, squinted, then leaned forward awkwardly close about 6 inches from my waist, still looking at my tattoo.  

"Well...,"she began, straightening out,"that means family but not how you think it means family.  It means family like Chinese Mafia!!!"
"WHAT!?!?!?"  I exclaimed. I turned scarlet red and make a hasty exist from the scene completely mortified.  In retrospect, I guess it could have be worse and mean something else!

So if you are ever with me having dinner in Chinatown and we are jumped afterwards in an alley by some gang, allow me to lift my shirt and show them the mark of the Chinese Mafia and I guarantee they won't touch us. In fact, I will probably be asked to be their leader.


  1. this is a good one marc..actually all of them are! you should publish a book on your would probably be a best seller....i certainly would buy it!

  2. Marc, Frazzled at FortySeptember 19, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Thanks! That is so nice of you to say. I will make sure you get a free copy if I ever publish that book! :)

  3. yes i agree i smiled the whole time i was reading it. but then again reading your post marc, always brings a smile to my face :-)

  4. HAHA reminds me of The Big Bang Theory episode with the tattoo symbol for SOUP.

    1. Yeah, LOL I guess I got lucky it only means mafia. :)

  5. I read this to Dianne and Cathy this morning and we had a great laugh. This is another keeper and I would also buy the book.

  6. That is a great story, my friend.