So I almost got a Nazi symbol tattooed on my wrist a week ago.
I wanted a simple lightning bolt tattoo and had finally, after four years of thinking about it, pinpointed the specific shape of one: A zig-zag line, no width or shading involved.
Fast-forward to me in the tattoo shop and having the artist scribble slightly different shapes and sizes on my wrist with a pen for about 10 minutes.
When we finally got the perfect one, he looked at my huge grin, then back down to my wrist, and said, “You know that’s the Nazi SS symbol, right?”
I think I blubbered an “Uhh” and maybe a “What?!” in response. Other artists came over to poke a little fun and warn me against getting it. My friends who tagged along for moral support hopped on their phones to Google it and, yup, it’s certainly a look-alike of the Nazi symbol.
I’ve been collecting clip art and other lightning bolt tattoos for years, checking them out every few weeks and weeding out ones that I definitely don’t like. So I went through my handy dandy album on my phone to find another bolt and we did some improvising.
I ended up with one that reminds me more of Harry Potter, the inspiration for the tattoo in the first place.
Yeah, yeah, I should have gotten it on my forehead, not my wrist. Hardy-har-har, I haven’t heard that one a million times already.
But this little lightning bolt is more than just an obsession with a neat-o book series. If it weren’t for my dear friend Harry, I wouldn’t like words. At all.
Until I cracked open “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” I loathed reading. I would get nervous-sick every time I had a book report due in elementary school because I refused to read. I failed all the accelerated reader programs. Reading just wasn’t my thing — I was too cool.
In fact, when my third grade class read the first Potter book during snack time, all my classmates passed around a yellow marker, drawing lightning bolts on each others’ foreheads. I focused on my animal crackers and made fun of them. And look at me now.
But a few years later, once I popped, I just couldn’t stop. I read the first four books over and over again until the next one came out. Then repeated the process for the rest of the books, and then again for the movies.
Essentially, Harry’s the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing. Literally. Right now. I’m writing because Harry—or rather, J.K. Rowling—opened my eyes and heart to words.
Take that, family members and adults who told me to never get a stupid Harry Potter tattoo, thinking it was just a fad that would mean nothing in two years.
I mean, if you want to get metaphorical, the lightning bolt surges my words from the blood pumped from my heart through to my fingers to the keyboard. Bam. That’s right, I’m an English major. Or something.
Or, hey, lightning bolts are just cool, am I right, or am I right?
So here’s my advice to you: if you’re planning on getting inked, have it mean something. Think about it for more than the 10 minutes it takes for you to walk to the tattoo shop.
And maybe make sure what you want doesn’t stand for something else.
This column was originally published in the Sept. 11, 2012, issue of The Daily Eastern News.