At least Leonardo could read it
I wanted to get a tattoo to celebrate my first novel sale (Like Mayflies in a Stream, coming from Hadley Rille Books in October), but tattoos are not mainstream here in conservative Riverside County, and tattoo parlors are scarce. I wanted a parlor that was clean and did top-notch work, so I waited until I went to New Orleans for The Ninth Muse’s wedding (more on our trip next week) so I could go back to Electric Ladyland in Faubourg Marigny, considered by some the best tattoo parlor in New Orleans.
After weeks of consideration, I had decided on a phrase in cuneiform because my book takes place in ancient Sumer in the time of Gilgamesh:
I went to Electric Ladyland prepared. I had printed out a large, clear image of the words and told the lady at the counter several times which way was up to make sure I didn’t get the letters engraved sideways or upside down. (I’m nothing if not obsessive.)
The tattooist was good. He asked whether the tattoo was oriented correctly before putting the temporary image on my leg and again before starting the tattoo. Both times I said yes. He did a beautiful job on the tattoo—clean, sharp lines, with all the triangles open, a difficult task, the shop people told me.
There was just one problem.
After thirty-plus years with systemic lupus erythematosus, I’ve been lucky to develop only one complication, but it’s an inconvenient one for a writer: cognitive dysfunction. In practical terms, that means I frequently forget things, get confused, have trouble retrieving memories, have trouble moving items from short-term memory into long-term memory, and suffer from what people with lupus call “brain fog.” Oh, yeah, and I frequently forget things. Lupus cognitive dysfunction worsens considerably when a person is tired.
Despite knowing better, I went to Electric Ladyland the day after I arrived, jet-lagged and exhausted from the long trip. This is the tattoo I received and probably deserved:
I didn’t discover until after I’d had a chance to rest that the tattoo was a mirror image of what I’d wanted. I did what decades of having lupus had taught me to do.
Now it’s your turn to laugh. I’m having three contests. The prize for each of the first two contests is a keychain flashlight imprinted with the name of my book, a woven Oriental rug bookmark, and your choice of either an ARC sometime soonish or a copy of the published trade paperback version in October. The prize for the third contest is an Oriental rug bookmark.
Contest 1. You’re the winner if you come up with the funniest joke about my tattoo (as judged by my husband and me) or the funniest response for me to give when people ask what my tattoo says.
Contest 2. You’re the winner if you come closest to guessing what my tattoo says if you were to look at it in a mirror. If more than one person guesses closely, the first poster will win.
Contest 3. You’re the winner if you're the first to guess why a brown-eyed brunette has such pale skin.
Contests will close 12:01 am Pacific time on 20 June.