It was the best of times, it was the worst of times: the required reading list loomed over summer like a promise. Your perspective is bound to change, it says.
But on this day, the very last day of June, you decide anyway to pledge your love to Taylor Hanson by asking your older cousin to give you one of her homemade tattoos in the shape of a rather ingenius logo that’s able to incorporate all the letters of the band’s name, Taylor’s last name, and your future last name, into one unified symbol.
You’ve traced it a million times in your notebooks, and now your cousin will trace it (carefully!) on the upperside of your left buttox, where it won’t be visible to your mother when you’re wearing a bikini.
You just turned 13 and, being the eldest and only daughter with limited access to TV, you have a very narrow definition of what it means to be a teenage girl at all. Thus far, you can glean the following:
- Teenage girls spend a lot of time in their rooms
- Teenage girls are often in possession of pink note books and feathered pens
- Teenage girls are often bored
- To rouse a teenage girl from her ennui, it is a good idea to introduce her to a rockstar
- If presented with a rockstar, a teenage girl is likely to 1) cry 2) pull at her hair 3) scream 4) write in her diary
- These are the acceptable actions for a teenage girl who has fallen in true love.
You would like to meet a rockstar and fall in true love, but you also still watch Blues Clues with your little brother. Taylor Hanson is a reasonable compromise. He even sort of looks like you, but you tell anyone who says he looks like a girl that Kurt Cobain had long blonde hair too, may he Rest in Peace. That usually shuts them up and if they ask who’s Kurt Cobain, you toss your hair and roll your eyes and say “Uh, Nirvana?”
(You know about Kurt Cobain because your older cousin had a seance for him on his birthday and she pierced her eyebrow and tattooed an N on her right ring finger.)
The song MmmBop is the musical equivalent to a stack of pancakes drizzled in syrup. You listen to it constantly on your mom’s walkman and think about Taylor Hanson. Secretly, you listen to Dave Matthew’s Crash Into You and think about Taylor Hanson singing that.
You’ve resolved to get this tattoo because it feels important. Everyone keeps saying you’re changing and it’s important that you know and they know you’re really just the same. Even the song is a plea for holding on and you’re trying to, for dear life, aright?
Of course your mom walks in and catches your older cousin with her medieval DIY pen in hand, you prostrate on your bed with your pants pulled down, indecently. Not your proudest moment, to be sure, and it will be eight long weeks later before you’re allowed out again — to go to school. By then, you’ve finished your summer reading and junior high has you reconsidering the Hanson posters lining your wall.
Still, decades later, when the entire episode has turned to a holiday regular family story, you can feel the ghost of that tattoo, sitting on your left buttcheek, as light as a melody and as fleeting as a song.