Ní thuigim.


Ever since college, an entire decade ago, I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a tattoo. I’ve never done it, because I couldn’t commit to any image long enough to want it permanently inked on my body. The closest I’ve gotten is an idea for a phrase in Irish, tattooed on my wrist.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, probably because I’m back in school and I’m trying to learn Irish. One of the girls in my postgraduate programme has a wrist tattoo, and she says it wasn’t very painful. For about a week, I was seriously prepping myself to get a tattoo when I graduate next fall.

Then, in our last Irish for Beginners class meeting, the instructor told us how an American undergrad had come to visit him in his office. She wasn’t a student in his class, hadn’t even taken an Irish language course while she was studying abroad here, but had a list of phrases she needed help translating into Irish. He said it was fairly obvious they were “tattoos in the making.”

He went on to caution us – heavily – against having misspellings or improper grammar tattooed on our persons. It was something of a wake-up call for me. Not only that I should probably wait until I become fluent in the Irish language (which is unlikely to happen) before I try to get any Irish ink, but also that my Gaeilge tattoo idea isn’t even remotely original.

***On a related note, my boyfriend is here visiting and he had a dream last night that I got a neck tattoo, which somehow combined the “Hi How Are You?” frog in Austin with some genitalia graffiti that has popped up in Galway over the past few days. In the dream, I told him I was drunk and “they” talked me into it, that I was regretting the tattoo but trying to learn to like it. The first thing he said to me when he woke up was “don’t ever get a tattoo on your neck.”