How I got my first tattoo at 38

Mar 16, 2018

I was and am a punk rock kid at heart. Well, really a 3rd Wave Ska-Punk kid. (But that's probably a bit esoteric for most folks.) I am also a bundle contradictions. More about that in another post tentatively titled “owning it.” But my style has always been a blend of establishment hipster and anti-establishment punk. At one point, I had my ear, tongue, eyebrow, and labret pierced. Not to mention the orange hair twisted up in spikes with old-school flat top wax. Needless to say, I’ve always wanted a tattoo. But, I also know my own limitations. So I instituted a rule. If I loved something enough to put on my body, I had to wait five years. If I still loved it that much after five years I would get it.

But through my twenties everything seemed fleeting. I didn’t want to end up with a sports logo, or a band, or an ultimate frisbee related tattoo that I would outgrow. Which was a good idea because I’ve more or less outgrown most of those things.


But I had an idea when my son was born in 2009. I loved him. I would alway love him. So I set to thinking about what I wanted the tattoo to be… and took five years doing it. By the time he turned five I had the idea nailed down. I wanted:

  • His name in a cursive script that reminded my of my grandmother, who he was partly named after,

  • In the form of a punk rock patch (that looks like real stitching) that is an ode my my punk rock ethos and esthetic

  • In blue and white that also reminds me of my grandmothers wedgewood china

  • On my left forearm, where I’ve always wanted it so it can be my white guy shaolin dragon… thanks Kung Fu, The Legend Continues.


After five years, I was a master of patience and it took me a while to find the right artist. I found Neil England at Empire Tattoo in Somerville through a client. Neil's profile. Then he had a waiting list. So I really didn’t get the tattoo until Elliot was eight and I was 38. But it was more than worth the wait. It is exactly what I want. If suits me and represents his personality, as I’ve seen it develop over the years. And, I love it. I can’t think of a scenario where I would regret anything about it. A major ADHD victory if you ask me.


My daughter turns 4 in a few weeks. That gives me a year to finalize the design, the colors, and the theme. By the summer of 2019 my will be decorated in a way that honors her, thus completing my own Kung Fu dragons.


Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. An imperfect post completed is better than a perfect post that goes unposted.


How I got my first tattoo at 38

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