Rebel Housewife Tattoo

by Sherri Caldwell

What does a Rebel Housewife do for her 35th birthday? Life might be half over at this point, or it might not. It doesn't bother me to be 35 years old, but some gesture, some special commemoration seemed in order for this birthday. For my midlife celebration (crisis?), I decided to get a tattoo.

A WHAT?! Yep, a tattoo. It's big. And it is very, very cool.

I've wanted a tattoo for a long time. My Dad, an ex-marine, had tattoos. My father-in-law, retired Navy, has tattoos. My mother-in-law even has a tattoo! (They live in Key West now, so they think they are really with-it old people living in paradise.) (They are.) Dad-in-law is in the process of getting his tattoos updated, adding color and borders and redesign. Last time they were visiting us in Atlanta, I was looking through some of his new tattoo magazines with him and he was showing me the design he was going to add. We were talking tattoos and I told him I could never figure out WHAT I wanted, or WHERE, for myself. He wanted to run back out to the bookstore and buy up the "women's tattoo magazines" for me--Dad is a sweetheart.

I finally figured out WHERE when my husband took me to the beach for a weekend getaway two weeks before my birthday. (Because on my birthday, we had a hockey game, a soccer game, and "Family Fun Day" at the elementary school--I got squeezed out of the schedule on my own birthday!) At the beach, I saw a girl with this great tattoo on her lower back--it was so cool! We talked to her and her boyfriend--Lisa and Duke were a very interesting, definitely fun couple. They actually had matching tattoos. Hers was a dragon that wrapped around her waist. His was the same dragon, curled around his belly button. Duke had a couple of other tattoos, and an earring, too.

Russ told me there was NO way he would be getting a matching tattoo with me (he doesn't do needles well), but Lisa's lower back tattoo was "pretty sexy," and if I really wanted a tattoo--I was on my own.

Well, that's official permission! I usually go with the credo: "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission," not that I really needed PERMISSION to do anything to my own 35-year-old body, but I'm glad Russ was okay with it. A tattoo is permanent, something he would have to see every day for the rest of our hopefully very long lives together. Even if I didn't need permission, it was nice to have the implied consent.

I don't think he realized how quickly I would move on this. The next week, I was in the tattoo studio near my son's pre-school, after I dropped him off, checking out designs and talking to my potential artist-for-life. I was looking for safe, clean tattooing, and a design, and I wanted to make a connection with this person, whose artwork I would be displaying on my posterior for posterity. Craig was great, and I really, really liked his dreadlocks, but he wasn't The One.

I had to rush to be on time for pre-school pick up. One of the teachers at our pre-school, funky, black Alice, is very hip and I always love talking to her. For the past seven years that my three children have gone through this pre-school program, Alice and I have enjoyed a mutual appreciation of each other's style, attitude and frequent changes in hair color (mine) and hairstyles (hers--braids and extensions that have always made me so jealous), clothes, shoes, accessories and even cars. She is definitely a Rebel Housewife, whether she knows it (yet) or not.

Anyway, I figured--correctly--that Alice probably had a tattoo, and after I confirmed that, I asked her where she had it done and if she would go back to the same place. She highly recommended Sacred Heart Tattoo in Little Five Points (L5PTS if you're really with it), which is an artsy, younger area of downtown Atlanta that would of course be a tattoo and body piercing mecca. (I should have thought of that!)

Vicki will laugh at what I did next, but of course, instead of going down to trendy, urban L5PTS on my own--I am a 35-year-old housewife, after all--I went to the Internet. I found the website,, with all kinds of good information including their artist profiles and galleries. They have an "email us" link, so I did:

"My name is Sherri Caldwell. I turn 35 at the end of October--part of the celebration (or is it a mid-life crisis?!) is a tattoo, now that I have finally decided WHERE I want it...I'm working on WHAT I want. I've been trying to research online, but it's not going so well. My friend Alice...highly recommended Sacred Heart. I have 3 children, and not a lot of free time, so I'm emailing to ask your shop hours, and to see if I can schedule to meet with someone next Tuesday morning--my one time during the week when I am without kids for a couple of hours...[I briefly outlined what I had in mind, as far as placement and design]...Do you have someone that could work with me? (That would want to?!)"

I was subtly trying to warn them...I know I'm 'Type-A', extremely detail-oriented, relentlessly organized; anal-retentive, I guess, although I hate that term! I didn't know what to expect--a housewife (even if I'm funky, white Sherri) emailing tattoo people over the Internet. First thing the next morning, I had a reply from Rob Thompson. He thought I had a great idea and was happy to work with me. Rob eventually turned out to be The One, after two weeks of emails back and forth, a visit to the shop and design session, a tattoo convention (a whole 'nother article!) and meeting his wife (who is also a tattoo artist)...

You want to know what happened? Next time--(I'm already over my 1,000 words with this column and I am trying to do better! I don't want to bore our readers! ;-)

© 2003 Sherri Caldwell and The Rebel Housewife, LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

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