“My daughter-in-law wants a tattoo,” the nurse told me as she cleaned my arm with an alcohol wipe. “That and a lip-piercing.”
I looked down at my hands, picking at my thumb nail. I peeled off a small strand of nail and let it fall to the ground. I watched it hit the tile, ignoring the woman dressed in scrubs next to me.
“We keep telling her no.” She said. I looked at her shoes. The seams were straining against the fabric, trying to escape. I could see where the thread was starting to break, fracturing into pieces. Perhaps it was because she spent so much time on her feet here at the hospital.
Did she purchase her shoes at a shoe store, have her feet measured by a salesman to ensure the perfect fit? Maybe instead she went to Walmart and buys the ones on the dusty shelves in the back of the store marked fifty percent off, the ones with the fabric that irritates your fingers if you rub it the wrong way, scratching your ankles when you walk.
“I told her she’d have to get a job first cause–” She trails off into silence, preparing the needle. The unspoken end of her sentence bangs around in my head, a sentiment I had heard a thousand times before. I look over at my shoulder, the thick black lines of my tattoo peeking out under my shirt sleeve.
I bought this shirt in the men’s section of Kohl’s a few days ago. It’d been on sale, two for twenty. Men’s shirts have longer sleeves. They cover more. The don’t push up to reveal my nonexistent bicep covered in ink like the ones in the women’s sections do.
They prevent conversations like this.
“This is going to hurt a bit.” The nurse said, stepping close to me. I could feel her warm breath hit my neck just barely. I tried to keep my lip from raising up in a sneer. Did she have to be this close to me?
“No worries, last time I was here, they gave me five all in the same visit. This shouldn’t be too bad in comparison.” I said, forcing a slight smile. She nodded. Her hair was pulled loosely in a ponytail with her brown-grey roots showing. The ponytail shuddered with each move she made, hitting the collar of her pink and purple scrubs. I picked at a thread on my jeans, resisting the urge to reach up and fix her ponytail.
A friend of mine in high school had taught me the proper way to put your hair in a ponytail one day in gym. She said she wouldn’t let me walk around like that with a big poof on the back of my head. She taught me how to blend foundation and concealer a few months later before a presentation
I always look at the back of my head in the mirror whenever I pull my hair in a ponytail now, but I don’t wear much make-up any more. It’s hard to do without help.
I glanced up at the nurses’ face. Thick purple eyeshadow decorated her eyes, clinging to her eyelashes in clumps. I wonder who taught her to put on make-up. Her mother maybe? Or perhaps a friend in high school like me?
“With this one, it’s the medicine that hurts more not so much the needle.” She said as she shoved the needle into my skin. The medicine flooded into my arm, filling my veins. I scrunched my nose and mouth close together, trying to ignore the sluggish medicine flowing through me, beating up my blood like a high schooler looking for lunch money.
“All done.” The nurse placed a bandaid over the puncture mark, sealing it on to my skin with a quick press of her fingers. I looked over at the bandaid, grimacing as I stretched my fingers. These kind of shots left you sore for the rest of the day.
The bandaid grinned at me five times from the multiple cartoon rabbits on it. Bugs Bunny themed bandaids were a new thing for the hospital. Last time I had been here I’d gotten small, nude circle ones.
I wonder if the nurse knew anything about Bugs Bunny and I. How we grew up together, me watching him on tv, him not knowing I existed. Of course, rabbits aren’t usually too interested in humans, so I can’t blame him, particularly since his side of the television wasn’t the one you could see through.
My dad used to buy carrots when I was younger, the full length ones that were covered in dirt. I’d wash them and sometimes peel them but not always. Then I’d chomp on them, biting them until they were little stubs with a bit of green leaf on the top, a knick knack left over from the carrot’s days in nature.
I would walk over to my dad with a carrot in my hand and look him in the eyes, before repeating the rabbit’s famous words, “What’s up Doc?” At some point, my dad stopped buying carrots. Perhaps he didn’t like being referred to as Doc. I glanced at the nurse as she put the needle in the red bin hanging from the wall. I bit my lip. What would she say if I asked her the rabbit’s catch phrase. Would she recognize the saying or simply be flattered that I thought of her as a doctor?
Then again, I didn’t really want to start another conversation with her. What if she continued telling me about her daughter-in-law’s tattoo dreams. She might tell me all about the reasons she’s given the girl as to why she shouldn’t get herself inked up. She might even give me the whole speech. The you will never get a job. The but what will it look like when you’re older. The what would your grandmother say.
Of course, none of that speech at worked on me, so perhaps it wouldn’t work on the nurse’s daughter-in-law. The girl would come home one day with a tattoo on her arm just like I had. Though instead of one like mine, maybe she would get one like my bandaid, a cartoon rabbit. Something that would make everyone but her mother-in-law smile.
My goal for 2015 is to try and write everyday. While all those writings might not make it on to my blog, it’s my goal to post a majority of them. Even though it’s not the 1st yet, I decided to go ahead and start today. This piece hasn’t been too edited, so judge it as you will. 🙂
Happy New Years, all!