Sunday, December 25, 2011

Out of Touch

Perhaps taking my mom to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on Christmas Eve was a bad idea.

It's not that I didn't enjoy the movie, it's that it sparked something in her; the opportunity to use the film as evidence for her argument that people with tattoos are damaged, broken individuals who self mutilate rather than deal with their repressed issues.

& so the foundation was set for one not so merry Christmas conversation between my sixty year old mother and I:

Mom: Why do you do that to yourself? It's so ugly.

Me: Do what?

Mom: That. *Points at one of my tattoos*

Me: Oh, I like the way it looks.

Mom: I don't. I think it's ugly.

Me: So you've said. Mom, I can wear a sweater so you don't have to look at them.

Mom: One day you'll be my age & you'll regret having tattoos because you'll be ugly.

Me: I'll be ugly anyway.

Mom: Tattoos tell me that the person with them is depressed. That person is basically slitting their wrists but just getting tattoos because it's socially acceptable. They're emotional cutters trying to deal with repressed pain.

Me: Where did you get that? Is this because I took you to see that movie yesterday?

Mom: No. The doctor I work with said it & I've been thinking about it & I think he's right. You need to see a therapist to work through your issues.

Me: I'm fine. I'm not depressed, I'm not damaged. I just like tattoos.

Mom: People like you rationalize that you like tattoos to make it okay.

Me: & maybe people like you rationalize that the only people who get tattoos are damaged so that you can cope with a world run by a generation you don't understand.

Mom: What?

Me: You're old and stubborn. Instead of looking around and taking in the fact that tattoos are a social norm of my generation, you excuse us all as damaged and depressed instead of facing the fact your view of the world is no longer relevant. It's outdated.

Mom: If I'm wrong, tell me why people your age get tattoos?

Me: Your generation painted this picture of what we should be: what's proper, what's right, what's ideal. I think my generation thought your idea of what we should be was repressed and fucked up. It's counter culture.

Mom: Being counter culture is just another way of being part of the culture.

Me: Maybe so. But by us being counter culture, we've changed the whole look of someone in our generation and made it our own. We are abrasive, we're nothing like what you expected. & it's all because one person decided tattoos were cool and we all agreed.

Mom: I'm not having this argument with you. It's not worth it. I wish I were a better mother, maybe that's why you're covered in tattoos.

At the heart of this dialogue is the fact that more than not understanding my generation, I just think my mom doesn't understand me. I know this problem isn't unique to anyone; how many people can say their parents get them at all?

But you know, whatever.

It's still better than this past thanksgiving where our mom gave us her thanksgiving speech while simultaneously shooting herself up with insulin and telling us she thought her diabetes was spreading to her feet.

Merry Christmas?

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