Thank you to everyone who voted in my tattoo poll. Since the winning answer is, "Well, what kinda tattoo?" - I thought I'd tell you. (You knew I would.)
Of course there's a story, but you knew that too, eh?
When I was a sophomore in high school my family moved to Central Ohio and I began attending Bishop Ready (aka - Ready) High School. It was a tight-knit school and I felt very much like an outsider at first.
I was fortunate enough to find a new friend who had attended St. Stephen the Martyr school before attending Ready. By observing my friend, his family and others at Ready I learned that St. Stephen was, and still is, a tight community with very loyal parishioners. I didn't realize how loyal until I was in the locker room before baseball practice in the Spring of 1984.
I was getting dressed trying, as most boys do in the locker room, to look down, avert my eyes, avoid attention, etc.... when I noticed a senior who had a tattoo on his calf. It was a panther and it was very, very cool. I really wanted to know about that tattoo, but I mean this was a senior right? And he was huge! In eighth grade I had towered over everybody at my massive height of 5' 7." But by my sophomore year I was quickly becoming the short fella you all know now. (Okay round and short these days, but you get the picture.) Still, I had to know.
I summoned all my courage, looked up, and said, "Um, excuse me Jeff, but that is a really cool tattoo." I followed that with something like, "Um, tell me about it," or "where did you get it?" Jeff seemed to turn around really slowly and he just sort of scowled at me. I was scared to death. All of a sudden Jeff broke into a big grin and said, "that's my St. Stephen's Panther. Do you like it?" You could see that he was so proud of the fact that not only was it a cool tattoo, but that it showed his loyalty to St. Stephen. I quickly repeated my admiration for the tattoo and Jeff left the locker room. I stood in awe and thanked God the hulking senior not only didn't kill me, but actually took the time to talk to me and share his tattoo. I almost felt welcome. (I don't think I ever really did fit in at Ready, but that's another story for another day.)
I knew then and there that I wanted a tattoo. I wanted it to be on my calf, and it had to stand for something unique, something pretty darned important.
That was almost 25 years ago. I just haven't been able to find anything that was "that important." Or as Netter said to me, "I think you should have a tattoo, but it has to be perfect."
What could make better sense? It has to be perfect. So, what could be perfect?
I've been trying to figure that out for 25 years.
Let's see - My parish? I've lived in too many to count. My school? I've attended 9 or 10. How about an "M?" I grew up a Michigan fan. Um, I graduated from Ohio State, and the truth is I'm probably more a Buckeye now than ever. Okay so then a block "O?" Yeah, me and a million other people. Something to do with The MJB Foundation, a shooting star perhaps? Well, that is a good idea, but while I am devoted to the foundation and Meghan Joy's legacy I don't want my daughters to feel I put one of them before the other. Wait, maybe I'm onto something there. Hmmm... Hold that thought.
There is also one place I've always identified with - "The D" - as in Detroit, Michigan. I was born in Michigan and lived there for most of my younger life. At one time we lived 10 minutes or so from The Olympia where the Red Wings played before there ever was a Joe Louis Arena. I've rooted for the Wings, and the Tigers, and the Lions, (well mostly the Lions, but come on - they're the Lions) and yes, even the Pistons for as long as I can remember. If people ask me where I'm from, I tell them I'm from "the D."
So, I thought about it and I decided I wanted an Olde English D like the one the Tigers wear on their hats. But, Netter pointed out that while it is a unique looking D, it is also the first letter of my youngest daughter's name. There would be a lot of explaining. "Jimmer, why do you only have a tattoo for D and not K or M?" As I said, I don't want my daughters to feel I put one of them before the other.
Alright, so then how about a Red Wings tattoo. I mean I'm pretty passionate about the Red Wings. You should hear me during a game. The kids run. The dog cowers. The neighbors close their windows. Netter - well Netter laughs at me, but you get the picture. Really though, the Winged Wheel in and of itself is not a unique tattoo.
So, how about incorporating something about the D with something about my girls? That's what I need to do. That's also where I'm stuck.
I'm hoping my nephew can help me with this. He's a tattoo artist by trade. I sent him a text this weekend: "Can you do a tattoo for me?"
His reply: "is this uncle jim?"
I guess I must have surprised him. I don't know that I've told many the entire tattoo story or that more than a few people knew that I want one. Still, I really, really do.
But it has to be perfect.
14 hours ago