My junior year Math teacher was a character. Very proud of his Italian heritage he would always have his hair greased back and I cannot remember him not wearing a track suit. He had one finger on his right hand that was missing two digits. Every time someone would ask him about how he lost it he would spin a new story. Sometimes it was the mob, sometimes it was a shark, sometimes it was an ex-girlfriend. These stories were never forced and more than anything showed how easy it is to keep people at a distance by avoiding the truth.
I lie all the time about my tattoos – especially my big piece. My left upper arm is covered in red roses. So many I have never bothered to actually count them. So many I need a mirror to see them all. To my left will always be a bouquet of crimson, blush, and garnet.
Almost everyone who asks me why I have the tattoo gets a different story.
“My Grandfather grew roses”
“They are the painted roses from Alice in Wonderland”
“Do you know the song Rose Tint My World from Rocky Horror?”
“The Victorians saw red roses as a sign of beauty and respect”
“Nick Cave did a duet called Where the Wild Roses grow”
“It’s representational of the Latin sub rosa which means kept secret”
I don’t owe anyone an explanation.
So often we are asked to attach meaning and supply reasoning for how we present ourselves. Why glasses and not contacts? Why flats and not heels? Why do you let yourself continue to carry around weight for years? We are continually asked to transform and justify.
So I lie.
It’s my small rebellion but no one needs to know how you lost a finger or what your tattoo means. You don’t owe anyone your story.