To Tat Or Not To Tat … ( a repost 2 years later )

733885_10151825085159307_1663421509_nMy Daughter Cami had to write an essay recently for her 11th grade AP Language and Composition class. This essay needed to be in letter form and had to ask her Mother and I for something she definitely already knew we didn’t want her to have. Some Radio folks who have read this have moved quickly and have already offered her radio sales jobs. What do you think my answer should be, I eagerly await your comments.

Camera Johns Summerfield. Mrs. Rigolo AP Language and Composition November 11, 2012

Dear mom and dad, I’ve looked up to your guidance while growing up and you’ve never let me down or let me go askew. Your opinion has always been the most important so your permission and acceptance means everything. Which is why this is such a meaningful topic to discuss, in detail, with the both of you. I understand both of your views on tattoos already, and the way they come across to other people, which I know also concerns you. I’m hoping though to wane you away from those thoughts for a just a few moments, and listen to mine. I desire getting this specific tattoo because, it is sentimental to me, it’d help me through my anxiety and depression, and it is small and elegant.

There is usually a reason, or a story behind someone’s tattoo. Sometimes it is really inspiring and meaningful, and other times it was just an excuse to add another one to their collection. Since it has become so common for people to get meaningless tattoos it has slowly ruined the reputation of them, and has taken away the beauty and art of the ones that do represent something significant to the person wearing it on their skin.
The main significance behind the tattoo I want relates to you, daddy. Most people have a prominent memory from something that was reoccurring in their childhood, like a place, or a smell, mine is a song. Remember all those days driving around while you played your CDs trying to teach me the “good old music,” like Fats Domino, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys. Especially The Beach Boys. You’d quietly sing “Don’t Worry Baby” while casually looking back at me in the back seat, like self-consciously reassuring yourself and me, that everything was going to be alright. But back then that constant reminder went through one ear and out the other, and I paid no attention to it, it was just an everyday routine. So now, I realize all that time I was trying to grow up as quick as I could and I began turning off The Beach Boys and replacing it with the newest pop song, I was turning that routine into a memory. As time goes on we are both growing older, and time to relive this memory and reminder is running out. So, having the phrase “Don’t Worry Baby” tattooed on my wrist will keep the memory with me forever.

During the time I would hear this repeated phrase I was little and still learning about life and all that it comes with, as I still am today, so I didn’t know much about stress or what to worry about, making the valuable reminder meaningless. Now that I’m learning of and dealing with the stresses of life, worrying will get the best of me. Both of you have held me together to the best of your ability, with your open arms on a weekly basis for my sobbing self, mom, and you being there as fast as you can with just one phone call, dad. But as I grow older and continue to struggle through my anxiety and depression I won’t always have the comfort of your arms to go to, and the distance will become too far to travel no matter how many phone calls. I know you both feel helpless sometimes, watching me go through things either because of my depression, or just regular teenage drama, and not knowing how to help or what to say but I do need to slowly learn how to deal with incidents on my own. This phrase would be more than a childhood memory, since worrying is the core of my anxiety. Every time I would look down whether I’m about to have a break down or am having a good day, it’d still be a reminder not to worry, and everything would be alright.

The meaning and significance of the tattoo is a main portion of the decision making of actually getting one I believe, but also the price and visibility are factors. The price of a tattoo depends on many different characteristics of it such as, color, location, size, and complexity. Since I am still young, and this would be my first tattoo I would want it done very simple. No color, and quite small, also for issues concerning visibility. A brightly colored tattoo tends to cost more than just a solid black being like I want. I understand the difficulty of covering up a wrist tattoo for a job, or any professional setting but it isn’t impossible. For instance it’d be small, elegant and simple so easily hidden by a couple of bracelets or long sleeved shirt. I currently don’t have a job though and during the time it needed to be bandaged I would not participate within settings where visibility could cost me something important.

?You both are probably thinking about my blood and needle phobia and wondering how I could even withstand the process of getting a tattoo. I have learned though that the needle of the tattoo gun only goes in 1/16th of an inch, and the little to no blood that is produced gets wiped away before I probably could even realize. Also, everything the tattoo will mean to me after the frightening process is over will make it worth it.

In conclusion, this tattoo would be more than just some ink in my skin to be “cool.” I have put a tremendous amount of thought into this, especially for being my first tattoo. It would represent a memory in my childhood, it would help me to continue moving forward, and it would be simple and easy. Thank you for giving me these couple of moments to share my insight on this.





85 thoughts on “To Tat Or Not To Tat … ( a repost 2 years later )

  1. Done deal, Daddycakes. Anyone who manages to get the word ‘wane’ into an essay gets whatever the hell they want – think about it, Dad – it could’ve been a Lexus…

    • Yes Cris there always seems to be something worse. Thats why the Jerry Springer show was so appealing, it made the rest of us feel so good about being normal which we are not even close to being.

  2. Geo, you and Cami’s mother have done well. Not only is her essay persuasive, the attention to detail on all fronts and in all angles is impressive! Let her have the tattoo–make it a family outing. Afterward, if she regrets it she can always have it removed at Denver’s “What Were You Inking?” (
    This blog post reminds me of the time my son Jack, at the age of 17, pleaded for permission to have his nipple pierced. When I told him he could–under the condition that I have mine pierced too, simultaneously–I never heard another word about it!
    Don’t worry, baby.
    THAT is sweet, you gotta admit.

    • Gotta admit I teared up Jo. I’m the tough one on this issue but so far I hear her Mom is holding out but I don’t think she has read the letter yet.

  3. Hi George,
    Cami took an extremely good look at the pros and cons. Please give her my congratulations. This is a topic I have often wondered about. If it is strictly personal and not for show to everyone on the planet, then I cannot see any problems.
    On the other hand, when these things are spread all over the visible portions of the body, I wonder why anyone would want them. From 10 feet away they look like a horrilble skin condition.

  4. Damn! I’ll hire her into sales, although the tat is still a stupid idea. Like Paul Harvey said, tattoos are the permanent expression of a temporary emotion. She makes a good case though. It will be interesting to learn what you do.

  5. Wow, reminds me of the time my son (now 15, yes, I started late) explained very casually how to sell ice boxes to an Eskimo. I was startled. Made perfect sense.
    Back to the matter at hand, I like the engraving idea on something special Could be like my Med-Alert bracelet; something that is never taken off (except during a MRI)!


  6. George. Sorry, was on the phone. This girl is dynamite. Cant wait to get her in sales. Great thinking, logical, touchy-feely, very strong close. Brilliant! She may be a genius!

    As to substance, really not that hard to handle. Just say no.

  7. Buy her 1000 temporary tattoos in the design she wants, and a fabulous bracelet with “Don’t Worry Baby” engraved on it. See what she really prefers when the temporary tattoos supply is gone…

    • Great idea Sharon … Now let me see I knew you in your 20’s not that far removed from late teens. Not sure that would have worked with you. (-:

  8. Tattoo it is …
    And here she gets to learn the power of the written word. The power of who knowing who you’re asking. The power of being brave enough to ask, and knowing how.

    She will learn she is sometimes powerful enough to get what she wants. Even when difficult.

    And when someone blocks her, she will have a taste of how to challenge that. Very powerful.

    Should she regret it down the line…then she also gets to learn about consequences. And sometimes what people want changes drastically over the course of 10 years.

    Or she”ll learn that when you think things through you make decisions that you can live with for the rest of your life. Because you know the parts of you that will never change

    All those consequences are not anything you will want to protect her from anymore. Clearly she will be fine. And Strong. With the Tattoo there to remind her to be, that is.

  9. OMG! First can she move to Albany and sell radio for me? Second how old is she… 17 or 27? Third let her get the f**king tatto… if she has to do this everytime she wants one, she will soon give up. Fourth, thanks for making an old man cry 🙂 Beautiful!

  10. Rick Alvarez who works for me at DRIVE, got a tatto under his watch band with the initials of a friend from high school who committed suicide. He and his girlfriend and several other friends got the tattoos with the permission of their parents.

    My niece Suzy and her fellow relay team members got a small rose tattoo on their left shoulders after they won the NAIA National Championship her senior year in college.

    Cami is being pretty thoughtful here, if she waits 11 months she can get one without your permission. So there’s that, isn’t there? The “Don’t Worry Baby” is a pretty cool tribute to her Dad and his influence.

    She will get it someday, so give her your blessing and make sure it’s tiny, tiny, tiny or like Rick’s it can be hidden under a watch or bracelet.

    Better than my Dad’s tattoo of “Hollywood” on his bicep…done by the f**king janitor at his high school when he was 16! The guy had bought a “Learn to Tattoo by Mail Kit”

  11. First of all honey let me say how blown away I was with how special you write. How eloquent! If this paper doesn’t get an “A” I’m burning your school down. Your writing skills makes Daddy want to quit writing his Blog out of sheer embarrassment. Not to mention your sister Candis weighs in with her own superb writing style. Even Reid Reker says … Why don’t you just send all your thoughts to Cami and Candis and have them write your Blog. You’re probably saying to yourself at this very moment “Daddy You’re Stalling” and you of course would be right. I have to stall your persuasiveness is a way too much for me to handle.
    As you know I am totally against Tattoos but I can’t be against the reason you want this one. The fact that you use the words “my first Tattoo” kinda scares me but I can only hope a desire for another never materializes. I wish a bracelet with “Don’t Worry Baby” inscribed on it would suffice but be that as it may and depending on what your Mom says … You can count on Daddy to drive you to the Tattoo Parlor. xoxoxoxoxo

    • Jenn, I’ve been trying to keep the love for my Daughters a little more low profile lately since Robin Garrett recently told me I was just boring a whole bunch people with my stories about them. I guess I failed. Damn!

  12. How are you going to handle this. I’m afraid one will lead to another one sometime, down the road, as I am sure you are. She seems pretty level headed about this however, I am just so against this…I just hate the fact that she wants to “mark” up her beautiful body.

  13. To have her give you as a father the honor of always having a piece of you with her is the best form of a tattoo anyone could ever have. I say go for it and make it special for both of you.

  14. George, as said so well by others, terrific writing and convincing. Though not enough. My girls, too, went through a phase of wanting tats in their teens. Now 22 and 27 they are both ecstatic that they didn’t pull the trigger against our wishes. My trainer of 15 years, Mike Ryan, who has spent more time studying and successfully seducing women then anyone I ever met, told them, “Any woman who gets one will let you do anything to her body.” He also called a tattoo, “Mark of the whore.” My girls, both awed, shocked, impressed and disgusted by Mike’s “life work” backed down. Someday I will share Mike’s experiences and observations regarding born again Christian women.

  15. Since asked by my almost lifetime true friend George, I can summarize tattoos three ways…..

    1. Right or wrong, those who don’t even know you make an immediate judgement regarding your social status.
    2. I remember using a trivia question on my morning show at KOOL, Phoenix. “Over 50% of people who do this have consumed alcohol.” You know the answer 🙂 Although Cami wouldn’t qualify, the facts make an interesting statement.
    3. “Miss America,” or “The Most Beautiful Woman In The World” NEVER shows a tattoo.

  16. Cami, wow, what a talented writer. She is so tender, sweet and well articulated – and heartfull. So of course, I’d say let her get it! It is an honor to share in her story. She is very special and you should be standing tall, you’ve raised a wonderful Daughter well done…

  17. I have to hitch-hike on Michaels’ sage observation. Once Bill Walton reported to late- summer UCLA basketball camp sporting a beard. Coach Wooden quietly and unemotionally reminded Walton, “Bill, you know our team rule on facial hair.” Walton went on to remind the coach that current times supported individual expression and he felt very strongly about it.

    The next day, Walton again reported in unshaven. Coach Wooden repeated the team caveat and Walton replied he didn’t want to shave it “because it was a form of experssing himself.” In his inimitable understated manner Coach Wooden said, “Bill, I have always admired people who feel very strongly about something and stand behind their beliefs. I really have. And, we’re going to miss you terribly this year.”

    20 minutes later and clean shaven, Walton took the floor.

    Your daughter makes a compelling multifarious case for a tat. Yet the emotions that we have in a given moment–a facebook post, a text, or slapping a fellow student–seem benign against the clock of history, but they’re not. When I was up for a Navy top-secret security clearance, they warned me in advance that any small smudge on my record about to be checked by the FBI would disqualify me immediately, and that I should speak up if I knew of anything. It was a great relief to say “no, nothing.” I was a dull guy for it, but those moments where you hold it all in your hand, knowing you CAN take another path but don’t, may mean more then you can know at 17.

    • Ron, You’ve still got your early radio chops Man. Just like your acceptance speech at your the Radio Hall Of fame induction your stuff is still … Tight, Bright, and Brief. (-:

  18. I think that a parent has the say over any child that is being supported and living under their roof until they reach the age of majority that is usually 21 ,when maturity kicks in hopefully. I know they say you don’t love me anymore when they hear ” no” but that’s what a parents responsibility is all about. I think these tats are getting out of hand and are a rebellion against parental control to brag to the other kids that they can do what they want, not what their parents want for them. Sorry you asked…Rolly

    • Thanks for your words Rolly. You and I wouldn’t have even had the guts to ask our parents this kind of question when we were growing up in Transcona. I do believe I remember a tat on your Dad though(-:

      • not so, even when he was in the navy thru the war,and when I was he always said never do it or you will be marked for life. I listened and am glad for it….Rolly

  19. Just remind her that long hair, ear rings on guys, various piercings etc. are popular for just SO long and then they are no longer cool. Tattoos are painful to get and expensive, and even more expensive and painful to remove.

  20. Cami is brilliant, beautiful, mature and has her daddy wrapped around her soon to be tatooed wrist. As a father of girls–and renowned tatoo hater–even I would say “honey, it’s your wrist, your life and I trust your judgement”. (And if you tell my girls I said that I’ll tatoo you in a very sensitive area you will forever regret. And I’m not talking WestPalmBeach:)

  21. Ha ha Bobby. Isn’t funny how well adjusted we are when dealing with other folks drama it’s our own drama we cant deal with. Somehow we instantly turn into what we most hated about our parents behavior. My eldest Candis once told me she was very confused about whether I was sexist or not while she was growing up. I asked her if she had come to a conclusion yet and she replied … Oh yeah, you are but just not with me! (-:

  22. George she makes a strong point in favor, but I also know from experience with my son at that age, long hair, earrings and a tat (our Scottish Emblem and War Cry) that I had to pick my fight. He got the long hair (curly ringlet half way down his back – I still have the 14 inch braid when he finally cut it), earring – still wears a discrete one while standing in front of his high school class teaching, but no tat as yet. He’s now 40 and still talks about getting one. I like the idea of it engraved on a band she can always wear on her wrist. And BTW I think Rolly’s dad was in the Navy in WWII and like most sailors thats probably the reason for the tat.

  23. Thanks Jean, nice to see some of the Transcona folks do a little visiting with my Blog now and then. Yeah I seem to remember it being an Anchor on “Termite’s” Dad.

    • Like I said,not a mark,you must be thinking of someone other than him. I was with a lot of guys after a few drinks in the navy and went to a lot of tattoo joints with them and watched and always rememberd what my father said and respected that so never did….Rolly

  24. I understand the momentary urge to go and get a tattoo. When i lived in Manhattan, i was considering a tattoo, and spoke to a very good friend and asked his opinion. He asked me why i wanted one, and my answer was i was bored and wanted not to be like everybody else. This was in the 80’s, and he said, why do want to do that and mess up your skin in an “in the moment urge” I know you think, what the heck, but wait a few years and invariably you will grow, change in some ways and your thinking and outlook on things may even change. He told me he understood, then he said when we get older out skin changes and maybe we don’t stay in as good a shape as we once did, think about that tattoo on saggy skin. Those thoughts danced in my mind for quite q while. I ultimately decided not to do it and boy am i glad i did NOT do it. Now EVERYBODY has them, so there goes the individuality of it all. Whew, now toward the last of your letter you said something about your first tattoo, it starts a trend that really is not healthy or in some people’ s eyes as unattractive.

    Last thought, what if you fall in love with someone, and tattoos are not his thing, i know the comeback answer is, then he is not my kind of person, why not keep the slate clean so that you will have wider and more far reaching choices in your life, besides you can always get a fake one where ever you want and never have to worry about, blood, unsanitary needles, having them removed and on and on.

    This and $2.50 will get you a Starbuck’s, but wanted you to know i feel what you want to do, i was there myself. All the best!
    Tim Byrd

  25. George:

    What seems like a great idea at 17 probably wont be in agreement with the 30 year old version of Cami.

    Allowing Cami to put her soul on display with an ink stamp isn’t the way I would go. A compelling argument doesn’t make it right. How many times have you done something and later said: “Well it seemed like a good idea at the time!”

    It’s time to be the the adult in the room. She’ll thank you later. As innocent as “Don’t Worry Baby” seems to us that know the story I caution you it will forever have to be explained. Or worse yet it’s meaning will be speculated upon on in silence by those who don’t know the story. Unknowingly she will potentially be judged by possible future employers or someone she’s serious about.

    Why not surprise her with an engraved picture locket necklace. That will get the job done nicely. This allows her time to really think it through and yourself the flexibility to change your mind.

    Permanent marks on the body are better suited for cattle on a cattle ranch.


  26. Cami presents a good arguement however, on a personal level, I would have to say No. We went through this with one of our daughters and not until she was emancipated, would we allow this. We told her that if she was so passionate about a tattoo then she should be able to wait until she was on her own and then make that decision for herself. By the time she was in her junior year of college she had the freedom to make that decision. She didn’t end up getting a tattoo because she had changed her mind. So I think alittle growing up, becoming more mature convinced her not to do this…

    • How many times in our own lives Tim have we thought we have to have something only to discover what Garth was talking about when he sang about … Thank God for unanswered prayers.

  27. If when my son first asked to get a tattoo I had given my okay, he would have gone off to college ten years later with Pokemon adorning his body. Tastes change. And people are incredibly judgmental. No matter how much a slogan or a piece of art means to you personally, there will be others who will look upon it with distain. They may never say a word. But they’ll judge you nonetheless. Fair? Certainly not, but such is the way of the world. What’s cool and groovy today is tomorrow’s electric blue leisure suit. My 8 year old son (now he’s 24 & remains ink-free) asked “What about when I’m 18?” I replied “You can wear your hair anyway you like. You can pierce anything you want. But get ink and I’ll kick your ass.” He replied “You never have. What about when I’m 21?” My answer was the same. “Well, what about when I’m 40?” “I’ll hobble after you on my walker and do the same.” “Well, what about if I wait until you’re dead?” “I’ll haunt you until you die and then I’ll kick your ass in the afterlife.” Life is hard enough. Don’t make it harder on yourself.

  28. I was all prepared with a comment until I read through all the replies. I think a lot of people are really overreacting. It is simply a thing kids do today, a little tat is no big deal – a lot of kids get them without a discussion so you must have done something right that there has even been one.
    Everybody speaks of Cami’s maturity, but they don’t credit her with the ability to make a sound decision in this regard. I just wonder what some of these people did as a kid because I’m sure George you did lots of things your parents didn’t know about or wouldn’t have approved of if they did.
    Some of the statements made about one little tattoo??? I have a few granddaughters with a “tat”. One of them is the mother of two daughters & a School Teacher & have never heard any of them with regrets & they haven’t turned into whores.
    Didn’t any of you guys have long hair that your parents hated – I know my boys did, but I thought it was working in Radio that kept me thinking young & I was happy they had hair. I am probably years older than most of your respondents & have great grandchildren. I made my mistakes in life, but hopefully I learned from them & sometimes you have to allow your children to make decisions too. Offer your advice & point out consequences. I remember a time when Jack Wells was my chaperone & I was asked out after a performance in another City that we had taken part in. Jack said sure go ahead, but I ended up in making the decision myself (as a teenager) that I might be putting myself into a bad situation. So, George, trust Cami she will make the right decision (anybody who expresses herself so well) and if not what a wonderful tribute to her “Daddy”.

  29. George…..Happy to share a thought w’ you about “The Tat” When my Son Josh was 21 he and his girlfriend wanted to get Yin and Yang Tattoos. I told him he was 21 so it was his decision but please don’t put it in an obvious place where people would always ask about it. They got it done and the Tattos were about the size of half dollars and were on their left shoulder. He almost cried when they were getting it done, she did. They broke up a couple of months later. Nice touch asking your friends to comment.

  30. To tatt or not to tatt?
    That is indeed the question.
    Oh geo! I have been there- My baby asked for one at 17. I said “no”. Well fast forward, she has too many now to count. Her tats are her life- she models and is in several magazines including INK in a few months. As for me- I still love every inch of her (maybe not all the ink but her!)
    It took me a long time to understand all this tatt. stuff but now I get it… it is their generation- not ours! Each of us have our thing- right? Remember when long hair was a sign of a crazy drug addict and loser. This is it for them -their time. I have come to understand each little note or drawing means something. Your Cami- wants to have your loving words memorialized. Don’t worry baby! (can you hear those words dad?)
    I wish you both luck in your decision.

    BTW- I think we all could band together and find the cure to remove em- painlessly! A fortune is await.

  31. Young people are influenced by media and technology.

    Show Cami a photo of a 70’s cell phone. You know the type, the size of a shoe box with antenna! Ask her how she would feel if she had to use that type of cell phone today? After her disparaging remarks, tell her that’s the way her tattoo will be viewed later in life.

    Fashion comes and goes but tattoos live forever.

  32. George, I’ve wrestled with the same subject with my 18 year old daughter. Studies show that the portion of the brain that understands the consequences, of any decision, doesn’t fully develop until the age of 25. Tell her to hold off 8 years.

    • Bruce, When I was 17 I only wanted to be a Rock Star so I forgot about school and wrote tunes. When I turned 25 I no longer wanted to be a Rock Star I wanted to be a Radio Star.

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