This is the story of my first tattoo. My microwave tattoo. My magic chef branded, microwave oven tattoo over my heart.
I hate tattoos. Well, hated meaningless tattoos. I still haven’t figured out the appeal of a playing card, flaming dice, or a skull on a non-pirate. And so for some time I mocked the tattooed. I proclaimed if one was going to put a drawing of an object on their skin forever, why not put a microwave, a lamp, or anything else? I joked so much that I started thinking about a microwave tattoo. And why a microwave tattoo. And what a microwave tattoo meant to me.
Until the microwave became a symbol that I wanted to see day in and day out to remind myself. Tattoos have meaning, even when they don’t, they hold memories of a time in life – a moment where this decision to suffer in order to have something with you forever is the best possible choice. The only choice. Your choice.
Tattoos show off our individuality. Even when it’s just flash picked off a wall. For me, the microwave became my independence.
A “latchkey kid,” I was too young to use the stove, and too picky to like most of the meals prepared by my parents. So I learned to cook, and feed myself, and satisfy a need on my own with microwaved hot dogs and oodles of noodles ramen packs. A curious kid with lots of time on my hands between school and my parent’s homecoming each night, I read whatever I could get my hands on – which due to my height was mostly just the cookbooks stored in the bottom drawer.
I read the magic chef operating guide and cookbook cover to cover, learning the time needed to cook a meatloaf, and the techniques needed to cook a full Thanksgiving dinner in the microwave. Inspired and well, bored, I knew metal shouldn’t go in the microwave but what unusual things could? A teddy bear on 30 seconds? Toasty. A marshmallow on 5? Explody. A schoolmate and sworn enemy’s precious highlighter? Melty.
After school, before my parents got home, the microwave kept me fed, kept me entertained, and kept me from being alone. I wasn’t totally on my own, but in those few hours each day, I learned to fend for myself.
My microwave reminds me that when things seem bleak or uncertain, I’ll be ok. I have the skills to survive (as long as there’s electricity), and the ability to meet my basic needs.
Over my heart, where I see it each day, my microwave is silly and it’s personal and it’s meaning is only for me. My microwave reminds me to laugh at the absurdity of life, not to take anything too seriously, and sometimes it just reminds me to eat.