For the most part, people generally consider me to be a person who is calm, giving and quiet. I try never to overreact. In fact, my close friends usually come to me when they need advice or are in a jam. Standing at six feet, two inches, my peers often call me the "gentle giant."
Because of my stature, strangers may make false assumptions about my personality, perceiving me as a giant bully or a mean person. Being the timid, non-outgoing person I actually am, I've always wanted to do something "different." Sitting in my room and looking at magazines with a friend, I noticed a model with a cute little butterfly tattoo on her shoulder. Commenting on the photograph, my friend challenged me, "Ris, you wouldn't have the guts to do something like that. You're too, well, you know, you're too good."
"Good! What is that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing personal, Ris, but you're every parent's dream come true. You get decent grades, you were offered a full scholarship to college, you're responsible, you've never tried any illegal drug, substance and overall, you're well-mannered and polite to everyone ... almost everyone."
Is that what people think of me: a goody-goody-two-shoes? I couldn't believe it. All my friends acted as if I were this perfect being who never got into trouble. This made me think of the tattoo in the ad. I asked my mother what she thought of my getting a tattoo. Very nonchalantly, she responded, "Well, Cris, it's your body, and you will be 18 soon. Just remember, it's there forever."
I sat down to think. Am I getting this tattoo to prove something to my friends, or am I getting it because I want to? "Because I want to!" I screamed to reassure myself. I was psyched. My face was all aglow and my heart began to beat faster like the gears of a train.
I could not believe it, but on the twelfth of January, one day after my eighteenth birthday, I talked my best friend (who was so quick to anticipate my future performances) into taking me to the once forbidden tattoo parlor. I looked through what must have been no less than four thousand tattoos, from flowers to devil symbols. Noticing a page taped to the wall of the shack-like room, I saw it! A small, two-inch design with four dots in each corner. Picking purple, I was ready. With sweat pouring from my face, and pasty palms, I crawled in the chair and meekly said, "Let's do it." Watching the tattoo-covered tattooist carve the tribal design into my flesh, pangs of excitement shot through my body as I saw droplets of blood run down my leg.
When the last indention was carved, my skin was raw. Standing back to admire my new addition, thoughts of tattoos and tattoo parlors made me think of Harley Davidson motorcycles, big, hairy, long-haired biker dudes with leather jackets, covered with every type of tattoo. Was that me? Could the "gentle giant" be a biker dudette? No! I took a chance to do something so unpredictable and loved it. Now, no one knows what to expect from me. I like it that way. Maybe this will teach people not to try to predict my every action, or to assume things about me. Remember, ASSUME NOTHING! -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.