How Will I Know Who I Am If It’s Not Written on My Underwear?

Filed under narcissism

I was reading an article about a lampshade made out of human skin last week, and while describing the man who sold it to him, the author writes:

Tattooed onto the guy’s stomach, visible between the edge of the too-small T-shirt and the empty belt loops of his saggy jeans, it said NOLA.

This seemed redundant, Skip thought. The way he looked, like some demented brigand with a hacked-off Mohawk haircut, and the way he talked, in that incongruous river-rat amalgam of off-angled Brooklynese with the occasional flowery southernism thrown in, where else could the guy be from but New Orleans?

And immediately, I was overcome with the need to have the word Ohio tattooed onto me.

I’ve always toyed with the idea of a tattoo but didn’t want to get one just to have it (I’m looking at YOU, younger sister), and at a certain point, I figured I’d just outgrown them. But this seems so perfect and obvious.

As with the guy in the article, my Ohio tattoo would be redundant. I live in New York City, but I’m in Ohio. It’s what I’m made of, and half of me is still there. But that’s the point.

Kamran hates the idea, so one of my co-workers suggested hiding it somewhere like my hip, but I want to look at it every day, and I want it to be seen every day.

You can picture me with this on the inside of my forearm, right?

Except, like, way, way more ornate, because that’s what Ohio deserves.


  1. Tracey says:

    Can’t picture it.

    Wait, how big of one are we talking?

    Nevermind. It doesn’t even matter. Still can’t picture it.

    Maybe you could just get it on a t-shirt?

    • Honestly, I want it scrolling from my krelbow to my wrist, but I’m just not sure you can make Ohio that long.

      Also, I’m not entirely sure I trust someone to brand me for life. I’m too much of a perfectionist, you know? (You, too, I assume.) If he messed up one little line, I’d be disgusted with my arm and have to wear long-sleeved shirts every day like those freaks in high school we assumed must have deformed limbs.

  2. kimz says:

    Shit, when you said this was about your tattoo, I was all, “Fuck, I didn’t know Katie had a tattoo.”

    That’s it.

  3. tina says:

    Every hipster in the Short North has the state of Ohio tattooed on their arm, hip, tramp stamp zone, etc. I secretly hate how much I love it and wish I could do the same, but I only like the Columbus part of Ohio (and making fun of everything outside Franklin Co.) so I can’t get myself to do it.

    • ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Those people don’t even know what it’s like. You can’t fully appreciate Ohio until you move away from it. I’m so much more Ohio now than I ever was.

      The rest of Ohio has its charms in a way, right? I love the freakily-poor parts, especially. It’s shame the rest of it has to be Bible-thumpin’ conservative, but I’m glad we have some Appalachia and some on-the-lake and some Gummo.

  4. Ash says:

    I used to want a tattoo that says ‘Made in the Philippines’ heheh. But I never got around to getting it.

    • Wow, that is way more badass and also seems like a politically-charged message, though it’s just the truth.

      When we decide to do this, we should go together. How does Michael feel about tattoos?

  5. thickcrust says:

    I’ve just never understood the tattoo thing. It seems like a permanent reminder of a time in your life when you wanted to draw attention to yourself.

    Which is fine and all, but isn’t that a very un-Ohioan thing to do?

    • You’re just jealous that I thought of it first when you really want one now, too.

      But seriously, does something about me make you think that everything I do isn’t for attention? I’d like to think I don’t exist for acknowledgement, but I do. I like to ignore, but I hate to be ignored.

    • Ash says:

      I view tattoos as a form of art on your body, kind of like a permanent type of makeup. So, if you’re ok with people putting makeup on, then it should be ok for them to have tattoos. The reasons people put makeup on vary, and so do the reasons they get tattoos. You’re right, one of them is probably to get attention, but there are many other reasons.

      Of course, if someone had an obnoxiously ugly tattoo (or if someone looks like a clown due to their makeup), I still judge them. :P

  6. Cristy says:

    The thing that has kept me from wandering into the tattoo world is the thought of my 73-year-old self looking at my arm with an old, used-to-be-cute picture or scrawled word on my withering, wrinkled skin. I think they’re cool for people who want them, but I can’t picture myself doing it.

    I’m a perfectionist, too, and would have a REALLY hard time if they messed up, even the tiniest bit.

    I like your concept. Identity piece w/o being specific. Neat.

  7. karinya says:

    OH MY GOD I WANT THIS TOO. If we ever meet in person, let’s drink too much and then go make it happen.

  8. Kim says:

    Don’t do it. Boys will laugh at it during sex. Maybe that’s just me. I still vote no.

  9. Julie says:

    After taking a Sunday drive today through Obetz and Groveport, I think an Ohio tattoo is just the thing. On the inside of your wrist.

  10. Heh. I never thought of my fleur-de-lis tattoo as redundant, but I guess it is.