A year or so before I left DC for Louisiana, one of my young friends, who had been one of Captain Corky's cronies (or followers or admirers), told me about his plan to get his family crest tattooed on his arm on his next birthday. I asked him how much it would cost--he told me $150--I told him that I'd pay for half as my birthday present to him. When the time arrived, I accompanied him and several other people to some tattoo parlor in the city. I ponied up my half, he had the rest covered, and about three hours later he had his tattoo. I was so impressed with it that I vowed one day to get my family coat-of-arms tattooed on my left arm.
When I was a kid, I really wanted to get a motorcycle. My mother was of a different mind on the matter. She told me about how my Uncle John had been hit by a car on his bike and had been knocked into the Chicago River with two broken legs and had almost died. That meant, "No! Hell no! Over my dead body, no!" The same sentiment applied to tattoos. Because I was a Mommy's boy par excellence, I could not get a tattoo or a motorcycle as long as she was alive.
Many of you reading this know that my mother died last August third, after a very brief "battle" with cancer, almost nine months after my father succumbed to ALS. In the immediate aftermath of her death, a friend from the Village contacted me on Facebook. This friend had moved to Philly years before and had turned her considerable talents into a career as a tattoo artist. The timing was no less than providential.
I asked her if she could do the tattoo for me; when she saw the picture I sent her of the Murphy coat-of-arms, she said she could do it but that it would have to be kind of big if I wanted to keep a good bit of detail. I had no problem with that; we agreed on a "nominal fee," then we arranged to meet at her workplace the week of Thanksgiving.
I sat through two three-and-a-half-hour sessions--one for the outlines and lettering, the other to fill it in. The picture above was taken on the sidewalk in front of Ill Skill Tattoo in Philly, minutes after the work was completed, a year to the day after my father died.
I can't afford a decent motorcycle at this time, so my dreams of joining a biker gang and manufacturing methamphetamine in abandoned trailers will have to remain on hold...