He left to go back to school two weeks later, but showed up the following weekend and called me. "You should come out here," he said. "I want to see that tattoo again."
We were barely re-dressed when he pulled a pile of pictures out of his top drawer. "I've been meaning to tell you about this," he said, tossing the stack next to me on the bed. As I flipped through, I saw a picture of her—an unattractive young woman sporting a bad perm and a skirt longer than in Amish country. "I've realized that I love her," he said.
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Thinking about that now, in light of the recent news, I had to laugh. My ex was the opposite of Jesse James, who cheated on wife Sandra Bullock with tattoo model Michelle "Bombshell" McGee. Maybe if Sandra had gotten my tat, Jesse would have stayed with her. Maybe had I not gotten mine, we'd still be together.
As it turned out, I wore my scarlet letter alone. When I went to orientation at the college the ex didn't want me to attend, I committed to forming a new romantic identity. I never wanted to be controlled again. I showed up to parties in low-slung jeans, prompting guys to comment first that whoa I had a tattoo, then second, to ask what it was. At that point I usually unbuttoned my jeans, folded down the right zipper, and revealed my blue butterfly. "A free spirit," I'd explain, my own version of Bombshell McGee.
But of course the slutterfly isn't for everybody. According to a recent study, 17 percent of people who have tattoos are sorry they got them. Of that 17 percent, 16 percent regret it "because of the person's name in the tattoo." Thank God I didn't do that.
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As you can probably guess, getting your loved one written on your body is rarely a good idea. Dave C. Wallin, a world-renowned tattoo artist based in Brooklyn, New York, says he always tries to dissuade a love-inker from doing the deed. "I advise against getting tattoos of any name or portrait unless it's a family member, pet, or deceased loved one," Wallin says. He mentions a popular superstition that getting a tattoo of a partner's name is considered the "kiss of death" for a relationship.