Performed live at Un/Attached at Second City February 2019

 “You wouldn’t put a bumper sticker on a Bentley”. That was my line whenever the subject of tattoos came up. I was a luxury car and you wouldn’t put a bumper sticker on one because that was tacky. It all changed on a whim Valentines Day 2011. I remember I woke up a few days before and decided to make my status on Facebook “Happy Free Bitch Day” with a cross and a heart emoji on Valentines Day.

If you, unlike me, are not stuck in 2009 I’ll remind you that “Free Bitch” is a lyric from Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. Many would say it’s her best song and video. They’re wrong but I won’t get into that now. 

I’ve always liked to fantasize about my statuses days before. I partly did it because I’ve been a huge Lady Gaga fan since she was coming up and I knew my “Friends” would think it was cute, it was very on-brand. I also partly did it because I wanted to provoke the guy I was kind of sort of seeing, the first guy I had ever sort of seen really. Provoke him to what I still don’t know. I like thinking back to my 18yr old psyche because I honestly don’t feel connected to her, like she’s a different person. Sort of like a cousin–you’re connected through history not the present. I am mystified by her. She was a “Free Bitch” if there ever was one.

This wasn’t the first time I used a Lady Gaga lyric to provoke a boy.  A year before this I had posted the lyrics from Monster “He ate my heart, that boy is a monster” as my status and it had worked!

The boy I liked had asked me about it. Well, it didn’t exactly work because he didn’t profess his love to me after I posted it but he did talk to me! That’s all I could ask for at the time. 

So I’m in the cafeteria in my dorm freshman year and I get a text. It says “you are not a free bitch”. SUCCESS! He saw my status, he knew it was about him and he reached out! I honestly don’t think he had even texted me that day let alone said “Happy Valentines” but I was happy just to receive a text saying something rude. Being a young woman is a ridiculous experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. That’s a lie, I wish worse on my worst enemy! I wish horrible things on my worst enemy because they are my worst enemy and that’s what they deserve. But anyway it is ridiculous. We have such low expectations when it comes to men. I wanted him to text me so bad I didn’t care if he was saying I wasn’t what I wanted to be most in this world–A Free Bitch. It’s amusing to me in a way that isn’t actually amusing but is actually very sad, at that point in my life I was the Free-est Bitch I have ever been in some ways but I couldn’t see it. I had gotten into NYU and was living this fun life, taking classes in subjects I was interested in and exploring New York City with great friends but I was so insecure. It’s like when you’re a teenager and you think you’re fat but you’re actually a size two. You can’t see the forest for the trees or some shit people say that never makes sense to me. 

So I got the text “You are not a free bitch” and my thought was “I’ll be a free bitch on my wedding day!” It isn’t about being attached to someone else it’s about your relationship to yourself. So I decided there and then that I would get a bumper sticker that said Free Bitch on my wedding ring finger. (Free on the front of my finger and Bitch on the back for obvious reasons) And I would always remember this moment. About how I felt when someone told me I belonged to them. I knew my relationship to myself was the one I had been nurturing for eighteen years and I knew it was the most important one we had long before Carrie Bradshaw proclaimed it on the finale of Sex and the City. 

I decided I would wait at least two years, which would be a tenth of my life at that point, until I got the tattoo. This was to prove to myself and to others that I was serious about it. I didn’t want this big proclamation to be seen as like something I had done on a whim. 

Flash forward to two years minus one day. I’m in my junior year dorm about to go downstairs to get a car to LaGuardia to fly home to see Lady Gaga perform the 100th show of The Born This Way Ball. I get a text alert from her twitter that she has cancelled the show immediately due to health issues–mainly we will learn a broken hip that needs major surgery.

I have my whole outfit for the show planned, I’m going with my mom who has never seen Lady Gaga live before, I’m literally about to fly home to Chicago from New York to see the 100th show. On Valentine’s Day. The 100th show was on Valentines Day. In Chicago. Because she was dating Taylor Kinney from Chicago Fire.

I was so excited and suddenly so crushed. I cried for Lady Gaga and her hip and I cried for myself and the dream I had of seeing that tour. By then I had been single for nineteen of my twenty Valentines, and I’m being generous. Looking back I wouldn’t count that “valentine” freshman year of college. He said Happy Valentines Day to me and that was it. He might as well have been my dad saying Happy Valentines Day. Wait, never mind that’s weird. 

So I fly home to not go to the show but to spend time with my friends and family. On the flight home I realize tomorrow will be the day that I can get my tattoo. It will have been two years! I decided to get it on the day of the concert as a way of commemorating the show that I never saw and because I loved the idea of getting the tattoo exactly two years to the day after I decided to get it. 

 My only issue was I had been telling people since I was a young teen that you don’t put a bumper sticker on a Bentley. And I’m about to not only put on a bumper sticker on but I’m about to put one where you are not supposed to put one. Your ring finger is supposed to be (especially to older generations) this sacred space you leave blank until you get an engagement ring. I kind of felt like I was shitting on a bunch of peoples traditions by doing this. But it meant a lot to me, to have a special relationship with myself first and foremost. It’s just who I am. It makes sense for me and to me. 

I quickly got over the fact that I had changed my mind about something I was so passionate about. I decided it showed growth. That I can grow and change and still have my convictions. It’s unrealistic to believe that you have the same opinions when you’re 13 that you will when you’re 20. 

Over the two years I had spent thinking about the tattoo it had morphed from saying “Free Bitch” to a Trinity knot. The Trinity knot is actually Gaelic for Free Bitch. Just kidding, the trinity is a celtic symbol that means the father, the son and the Holy Spirit.

To me personally it means a few other things, it’s the power of three. Gaga has a song called You and I, in it she sings “there’s only three men that I’ve loved my whole life– it’s my daddy and Nebraska and Jesus Christ”. I’ve always loved that line, about loving three men who all hold space in your heart in different ways. I couldn’t relate to the lyric but I dreamed one day I could. I’ve also heard three is the most balanced number and a triangle is the most stable shape. But the thing about my trinity is that it’s all curved and locked into itself. That’s me, striving for balance but having to curve my way to find it. Also, Beyonce has a Roman numeral 4 on her ring finger and if Beyonce is a 4 I’m a 3. I just know this about myself and I won’t hear about it. 

So on that Valentine’s Day that I had no Valentine, not even Lady Gaga because she decided to one up Madonna once again and break her hip I had myself and I got a tattoo to commemorate that.

At that point I was pretty positive I would never marry because I was twenty and hadn’t even really dated and I was fine with it but I said if I ever was to get engaged the diamond would have to cover my tattoo. It would always be there, under the diamond that would certainly be certified conflict free, and it would always remind me that you can change your mind, have a special relationship with yourself . And you can put a bumper sticker on a Bentley.

I took this photo of my tattoo while in Las Vegas to see Lady Gaga’s Enigma show 😉

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