Do you ever get the urge to do something completely out of character?
On Saturday morning I woke up in a bit of a rebellious mood. The husband and I had been out for a pre-Valentine’s Day treat on Friday night and over the course of the evening we got talking about how I had never done a single wild, crazy and impulsive thing in my entire life.
I met the my husband when I was 20. I have been working in the Journal for 12 years (and I’m only 34). This year we will have been married for 10 years and will be paying off for our mortgage for the forseeable future.
I never travelled bar a few select package holidays and my entire rock concert experience consists of John Denver when I was 19, Bryan Adams out at Prehen (was technically working) and Westlife. I could not tell you the last time I was out after 11pm in a licensed premises.
I am not a wild child by a stretch of anyone’s imagination. By 9pm most evenings I’m sat in my jammies writing about other people’s lives while sipping a glass of wine and waiting for Grey’s Anatomy/ Glee/ One Born Every Minute to come on the telly.
Now most of the time I’m perfectly happy with my sedate and suburban little lifestyle. I don’t really feel the urge to go and get hammered and dance the night away anymore. I love my husband, and my children and our wee house (although if we could miraculously get a bigger garden and a driveway I would love it even more).
But as my mid 30s approach I have felt an increasing urge to do something a little different. The first thing I did was book tickets for the pair of us to go to Bon Jovi in June. Okay so it might not be very cool, but it is at least a rock concert.
The second thing I did was take Gok Wan’s advice and buy some skinny jeans - despite my very obvious unskinniness. He said larger ladies can carry off the look so I’m determined to test that theory to the max. And then I did what I threatened to do in last week’s column. I got a tattoo.
During our conversation on Friday night the husband expressed his concern at the very notion. He’s not a fan of tattoos and didn’t really think I should get one.
I expressed my concerns at never having had a wild moment in my life and said he had two choices. Either I get a tattoo or I run off with a Greek waiter ala Shirley Valentine. A mid 30s breakdown of sorts was coming - he could choose the lesser of two evils.
So I got the tattoo.
Now those who know me will be only too aware that when it comes to dealing with pain I am in the definite wimp category. A recent trip to the dentist for a scale and polish had me hyperventilating and sobbing with fear. So it was very much unlike me to walk into a tattoo parlour, willingly ask anyone to jag me in the neck repeatedly with a tiny needle and not to take a panic attack.
I knew what I wanted - a subtle design that could be easily hidden if I was feeling shy or which I could show off if I was feeling rebellious. I did take a wee fit of the staggers when I heard the buzz of the needle and had to ask my sister to hold my hand. (I asked the tattoo lady if she had any gas and air on hand but sadly she did not). She set to work and ten minutes later I left, marked for life with something that means a lot to me. It didn’t really hurt. I didn’t cry or hyperventilate. I didn’t even need a drink/bar of chocolate afterwards to cope with the trauma.
The reaction of people to it has been quite remarkable. I have been asked on more than one occasion if it washes off. I have been told I’ve shocked people. I’ve been asked to consider whether or not I’ll regret it (which given that it was already done was a bit of a moot point anyway). But I’ve also been congratulated. The most common thing that people have said though is that “I wouldn’t have thought you would ever get a tattoo” and that is perhaps the very reason I have done it.
Being sensible is lovely. It’s a safe place to be. I like a quiet life and living for the most part under the radar. But it has been actually very liberating to know that I have the power to shock people. It’s liberating to think I’ve done something a little out of the ordinary (and yes I know that half of Derry has a tattoo and wouldn’t consider it at all rebellious but this is me we’re talking about. The most rebellious thing I have ever done was sneak out of Thornhill 10 minutes before final bell one day in sixth form).
Now I’m pretty sure that I have my rebellion out of my system. My husband can rest assured that I’m not about to run off with a Greek waiter. I still have the Bon Jovi concert to look forward to - where I will wear my skinny jeans and show off my tattoo. But that aside I’ll still be here - sensible Claire in her sensible house with her two kids, mortgage and sensible day job.
Still I’ll know the potential to do something a little different is there and when I’m old and in my dotage I’ll proudly tell my carers about the day I proved I wasn’t a boring old fart and got a tattoo without even crying.