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Fifteen years ago, I got my first tattoo. It’s Matisse’s Blue Nude IV (in black) on my lower back. I love it.

Fourteen years ago, I was a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding and as my mom was doing a last-minute dress fitting she saw the tattoo. She didn’t comment until later when I was going to join the family at the hotel pool: “Don’t let your grandmother see that thing on your back.”

We have never spoken of that tattoo again. To this day I have no idea if she ever told my dad about it.

One year ago, I took my first trip to Europe (England and Ireland) and Mr. Zoo and I got souvenir tattoos in London. Mine is a two-ish-inch anchor on my left inner wrist (my dad had a Navy anchor tattoo on his chest). I love it.

I had many moments of angst over my mom seeing this tattoo, given it’s size and location. I didn’t see her until six months after I got it, though, so by that time the newness had worn off and I had forgotten to be anxious about it. She saw it, commented, we had a brief conversation, she made some comment about how I used to say I was afraid of the pain of childbirth but didn’t mind getting tattoos, and that was that. She’s not crazy about it but aside from a few looks combining judgment and disappointment, we’re fine.

One month ago, I was back home visiting my mom. My grandma is now living with her. I had no plan in place for hiding my wrist tattoo from my grandma. It’s too large to be hidden by a watch or bracelet, and Hawaii is never conducive to long sleeves.

I had been there for about twelve hours. I was having breakfast, and wearing a long-sleeved robe over my nightclothes even though it was 75 degrees because I am a 41-year-old adult who is scared of incurring her grandmother’s wrath. Things were going well until I decided to show my mom the shorts I got at the Spam Museum last summer. They say SPAM in huge letters across the ass. (Again, yes, I am a 41-year-old adult. Whatever, the shorts are hilarious.)

So I flip up my robe and show my mom the shorts. She laughs and tells me to show Gram. So I do. Completely forgetting I have a back tattoo that my grandmother has never seen.

Now, my grandmother is almost completely deaf but at 98 years old she is still pretty sharp. So Mom and I were confused when she just kept looking at us. We must have explained the concept of there being an actual Spam Museum in Minnesota four times, all while Gram is just staring at us.

Finally my mom asked her if she saw my shorts and Gram looked at me and said, “That’s not all I saw.”

At which point I hightailed it into the kitchen. So I made it fifteen years without her knowing I had a tattoo, managed to hide the one on my wrist somehow, but showed off my tramp stamp in an absolutely classy way.

Zoo, for the win.

My dad was heavily involved in the local Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, culminating in his year as President a few years before he died. When word spread that he was terminal, they decided to rename their annual Day in the Park after him. My mom took a more active role in the chamber after he died (which I think mainly involves weekly meetings with a bunch of my dad’s friends that are actually happy hours).

They interviewed my cutie patootie mom for a news segment.

Related: Now I’m starving.

Today was Closing Day on the house that has been in my family since it was built in 1927. Our house no longer.


June 2019
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I said what?