Today was the first day at my new job that I wore a shirt with my sleeves rolled up. So, it was the first day some of my tattoos were visible. It’s an extremely chill office, and I’ve already observed lots of people sporting much larger tattoos than mine. Still, this was a first for me.
At one point in the day, a coworker noticed my tattoos and pointed to the spiraling heart I have on my left wrist. “What’s that one?” he asked. Without missing a beat I said “It’s a Marilyn Manson logo.”
Of course, lots of people know where my tattoo comes from, and what it means. But 7 times out of 10, I’ll make something up. I’ll tell them it’s a symbol my little cousin and I used to draw on each other growing up (this is true), or that I just saw it on the tattoo parlor’s wall. And, usually, those 7 times that I lie coincide with a coworker’s inquiry.
I’m certainly not embarrassed about any of my tattoos. This particular one was my first tattoo, and I’ve never once regretted it–even after (mostly) outgrowing Marilyn Manson. I don’t exactly know why I make stuff up about it. Maybe it’s because I’ve come to realize that admitting you like Marilyn Manson is the equivalent of social suicide in some circles. Maybe it’s because it might as well be a Coldplay tattoo for how relevant Marilyn Manson still is. I also realize that the stereotypical image might not fit me anymore: I might still be dark and moody, but I’m not really “Goth” anymore (In fact, I was never as Goth as I’ve led people to believe. I was actually a bit more Emo, and even then, those kids might have considered me a “scene kid”).
But I think the main reason I’m not completely honest about my tattoo is because I don’t want to be judged. Not for it being a Marilyn Manson logo, but for being someone as rote or cliche as to have a band logo tattoo’d on them.
So, why did I get a band logo tattoo’d on me in the first place? I think for me, tattoo’s have always been a way to mark a significant event or phase in my life. I’ve never gotten anything random, and even if I get a tattoo on the spur of the moment (which I’ve done three times), the actual design is something I’ve agonized over for years.
This particular logo is from Marilyn Manson’s 2007 album, “Eat Me, Drink Me.” I know the name alone is enough to make most people roll their eyes, but that album was an incredibly influential one for me. It seemed to come out exactly when I needed it to: during my most angst ridden years, dealing with everything from my sexuality to the loss of my closest uncle. I was struggling to find myself on a daily basis, and as “Emo” as it sounds, the album really spoke to everything I was struggling with. Songs like “They Say That Hell’s Not Hot” and “The Red Carpet Grave” literally got me through those years.
“Eat Me, Drink Me” doesn’t speak to me anymore. But then again, it’s not supposed to. The album was emblematic of a very specific moment in my life, and if it’s songs still resonated with me the way they did back then…well, wouldn’t that mean I haven’t grown at all?
I got the twisted heart tattoo, not because that album defined my life and would always define that life, but because it marked a truly formative phase for me. I like to think of tattoo’s as your body’s scrapbook. They’re visual representations of memories that are meant to, when you look at them, take you back to the moment. They’re supposed to chart your growth and evolution, and even if you outgrow one (or all) of them, they can still show you who you are and where you’ve been.
Sometimes, when I do tell people what the tattoo really means, they ask if I ever regret it. I like to respond with something a cousin once told me when I asked him if he thought he’d ever regret any of the tattoos he got at 21 when he’s 75. “Dude, when I’m 75 and I look at this tattoo, I’m going to be remembering how much fun I had when I was 21.”
Oh, and my coworker’s response to the tattoo? “That’s fucking awesome.”