We were laughing so hard my parents thought we were drunk—which given that it was 6:00 p.m. on a Tuesday, would not be unheard of.
But after checking all the bottles in their liquor cabinet (and—with some foresight—the rubbing alcohol in the medicine closet) my parents realized that their daughter and her childhood friend were, in fact, not intoxicated.
The question of whether or not we were on recreational drugs was never asked.
We were merely high on the natural (I’m using a liberal definition here) pleasure that comes from temporarily covering your body with images of flaming guitars and flowering skulls.
That’s right. I’m talking temporary tattoos. Or, as I like to call them, “tats.”
My experimentation with tats began on a typical August afternoon in Fairfield, California. I love my hometown; we have the Jelly Belly Factory and a mall. Inside the mall, we even have an American Eagle, and one of those “As Seen on TV” stores. But we don’t have much else.
Consequently, the only two things that kids normally do for fun in my town is make babies or get tattoos (or a combination of the two—Baby Tats are a growing trend). And, after debating whether or not I wanted my baby to be born a Taurus—the Zodiac sign would make a sweet Baby Tat—I decided against the former and got tatted up instead.
So, after a five-hour trip to the mall, my friend Polly and I did what any self-respecting 19 year olds would do: We covered ourselves from head to toe in “Rock ‘n Roll Rockstar” tattoos.Perhaps we should not have gone with the pack of 60.
At one point I had 20 on my skin, and at least five of them were on my hands.
I was especially proud of the flaming skull on my thumb. I called it the thumb of death.
Everyone else called it a clear sign of my mental deterioration.
I prefer the thumb of death.
I know it’s been years since most normal people have seen a temporary tattoo, but I think it’s time we bring back the trend and expand it to more social gatherings and holidays. Who wouldn’t want a temporary tattoo themed wedding?
My goal was to host a Tattoo Party at Harvard. I started a collection in preparation. I went to the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, in search of some quality tats. After passing by multiple tattoo parlors and “licensed” street inkers I finally found an art store that sold quality temporary tattoos. I also had my younger cousin send me a few that she didn’t want anymore—she said something about them not being cool in middle school.
I greatly underestimated the maturity of my friends, who, despite my vast collection, were not particularly impressed by the party I registered: TattyTimez2012.
One of my friends stole my thunder by designing his own “real” tattoo, which will be a combination of turtles and the German saying Das Grosse Dasein—which I like to believe translates into English as “tramp stamp.”
But I think my friends greatly underestimate the magic of temporary tattoos, and I’m not just alluding to the fact that the majority of mine involve mythical creatures.
Rather, I am now going to reference one of my favorite movies: When I use temporary tattoos I feel like Peter Pan.
And it is not just because I can fly.
I feel like Peter Pan because I don’t have to grow up. I’m in Never Never Land, where I’m not a college student; I’m a Lost Boy. I am a younger (still female) version of myself that doesn’t have to worry about finals, concentrations, or overdue library books.
I don’t have to think about the fact that I have no idea what I am doing with my life, I can just think about where this exploding guitar would look best on my body. Which would be on my thumb.
It’s immature, yes, but that’s the point. Who says I have to be mature? I mean other than my parents, my teachers, and my imaginary friend Charles. I have the rest of my life to read the newspaper over coffee and talk about what Doctor Oz said on his latest show. I can always grow up later, or when I’m dead. That’s a saying, right?
Some may say I am evading my responsibilities; that, by engaging in such a hedonistic and childish practice I am running away from my full potential and denying the fact that I have to someday grow up. I should take full responsibility for my actions, get a job or start a family or adopt a dozen cats. I shouldn’t be hiding under a thin layer of transferred glue and ink.
The thing is that I am not running away or hiding from my inevitable future full of cats and Baby Tats, I am just taking a break. Because that is the beauty of temporary tattoos, they’re just that: temporary.
—Nicole J. Levin is a sophomore in Dunster House. She currently has 11 (temporary) tats, 8 of which are of cats.