Allay your claustrophobia with a tattoo


Allay your claustrophobia with a tattoo

TINUS HORN shares the story of his cousin Madelief, her 60th birthday gift to herself and his decision to get inked.


TATTOOS are going out of fashion, I read on a British website. It comes at an inopportune time because I'm having my first and only one next week and now it's not going to make me look like a rebellious teenager. Alas.

The thing is that today's children — that is, everyone under about 45 — like every other generation want to create distance between themselves and their ancestors. And now even grandma is a work of art, like for example my cousin Madelief.

I'm sure she won't mind if I tell her story here. I'd rather not ask because just now she says no and then I have to think of something else.

This happened somewhere between Christmas and New Year in Fish Hoek, where someone in a rash moment organised a family gathering.

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Okay, it was Madelief, who wanted to show off the dolphin above her navel ring to the family on the beach, her gift to herself for her 60th birthday.

I still regret accompanying her to Mr Price to help choose a bikini. The sales lady not only spoiled my day but the whole festival when she asked: “For Mr or Mrs?"

So, later that day a group of us sat on the beach eating sand filled sandwiches, and after Madelief rubbed her dolphin under everyone's noses — at least figuratively speaking — she hopped into the water.

She was blissfully unaware of her bikini top going into the deep sea after the first wave. After that, one could only spot the dolphin sporadically for a fraction of a second, when she performed a little jump to dodge the bigger waves.

I digress. I want to talk about myself as a matter of habit, and in my case the craving for a tattoo took hold at that same family gathering.

I'm getting it done for practical rather than aesthetic reasons.

After a long weekend with the family, claustrophobia took hold of me. Night after night I dreamt I had been declared prematurely dead and buried, and my protestations from way below had fallen on deaf ears.

I have to confess, as I sit here and type, that sounds much more fun than our family gathering.

Okay. My tattoo, which I thought about for a long time, in big bold letters: DO NOT RESUSCITATE. And accordingly: cremation, please.

Of course, over my sternum, where paramedics are all too happy to do their work, plugging in pipes and things and handing out electric shocks left and right.

Not for me, thank you, is all I can say. I understand that a will is not valid without a lawyer's signature. They can simply use a koki pen, as a guide for the guy from the salon.

I've considered a tattoo or two in the past but my lack of imagination and my well-known squeamishness held me back. I can't afford anaesthesia.

But then I remembered a dentist appointment, 55 years ago, when Dr Heyl brought my screaming and kicking to a halt with laughing gas.

Chloroform was already limited to detective movies at the time, because of the side effects, namely heart, liver and kidney failure. There are also relatively few recorded cases where it stimulates the recipient's sense of humour.

So, laughing gas it will be. I'll just get it from a family member whose name I won't mention here. He uses it to give his Suzuki Hayabusa extra oomph at the illegal dices, on Thursday evenings on a remote road.

Okay, not that remote: Hendrik Potgieter, on the West Rand. Don't stress, it passes by a hospital. I don't snitch. The police know about it. They charge an entrance fee.

Laughing gas can only be administered in small amounts at a time. Luckily my chosen salon has DStv and I'll make sure my appointment coincides with a golf broadcast, to prevent me waking up.

Before anyone misunderstands me: I am not yet ready to lay down my head in an eternal slumber. It's purely a precautionary measure.

I want to stay a while longer, for my children's sake. Namely, they want me to first pay back the money I owe them.

I wouldn't hold my breath if I were them.


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