I got my first tattoo when I was 18, and I didn’t really think much about what it meant to me. Afterall my first tattoo was a Dr. Seuss blue fish, just like the book you’re thinking of. I mean really, how deep could the reasoning behind getting an animated children’s book character tattoo really go? As I got older, I would continue to get more tattoos over the years and I think after the first few, I knew that each one meant something special to me. Then in 2006, I just stopped getting them.
I figured 15 was enough, and for a long time I didn’t get any new ink because I was afraid of being rejected from legitimate acting jobs in L.A.. Then, at some point last year, the urge to get another tattoo hit me. I had decided to put my fears behind me, rebel against the system, and tell Hollywood to kiss off. I knew acting wasn’t for me anymore, so one bright sunny day after my workout I went straight to True Tattoo on Cahuenga and got “qualcuno da amare” from the inside of my left elbow all the way straight down my left forearm.
In Italian that translates to “Someone to Love.” Yes, I am of Italian decent, and no, I don’t speak the language but that’s ok because this tattoo means something to me that no cartoon character can touch. I thought about this one a long time, and I knew it would symbolically ruin my short and fleeting career as an actor, but I didn’t care anymore. It HAD to be done.
I can only assume I was passed over for a few jobs in my life because of the fact that I have visible tattoos. I was barred from being a server at a restaurant once in 1999 because the uniform required me to wear shorts and I have four largely visible tattoos on my legs. That artistic racism would continue into my thirties when I guess I lost out on some acting jobs because sometimes it’s just easier to hire the guy who looks like me, but who doesn’t need to spend an hour in the make-up chair. Believe me, 90% of the reason actors get hired actually has NOTHING to do with their talent as an actor.
I was aware of this fact for years as I was quietly coming to the realization that the pursuit of acting just wasn’t making me happy. Fucking life in Los Angeles wasn’t making me happy, and I was sick and tired of how Hollywood works and unable to see my place in it anymore. Then one day I heard this song which reminded me of another song, which then prompted me to get my first new tattoo in almost 10 years in a place that is very obvious. Let me explain.
I’ve never been the model boyfriend, but I am still a hopeless romantic and by that I mean I have fallen in love, made mistakes, been in a bunch of self inflicted traumatic relationships, and to some extent I’m hard to handle. I may not be the first person people go to for relationship advice, but at some level I understand that you can’t love someone unless you yourself are lovable. There’s that old saying that says “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Ok, maybe it’s not THAT old of a saying and maybe it’s actually a real quote from a writer whose words made it into the script for the movie Perks of Being a Wallflower, but it’s an astoundingly accurate statement.
Maybe that’s why some of my relationships didn’t work out in the past. Maybe I didn’t think I was deserving of the love I was getting in return. After all, it’s not like anyone can teach you a specific way to love somebody because everyone defines love differently and there is no guidebook that tells you how to do it right. It’s one of life’s greatest prizes, but it’s also that one that seems to elude a lot of us as well. Aside from the the obvious explanation, there is a double meaning to this story. It all started because of this Queen song by the same name.
I have listened to that song over a thousand times in my life, always questioning when and where was I going to find that someone to love, or if anybody was going to help me with that feat. For 20 some years I think I had good intentions, but the whole time I think I was doing it wrong. I truly believed that there was someone out there for me, but in some silly and drudgingly romantic way, I figured I wouldn’t ever find her, or if I did find her, it would somehow never work out. It became like a self fulfilling negative prophecy that kept me out there looking for someone and therein lies my tragedy.
I fell in love with the idea of being in love, and at no point until recently did I realize how backwards as fuck that was. I was trying to love the other person, when the whole time I should have been trying to love myself.
Years had gone by since I first heard Freddie Mercury sing those lyrics that became the theme song to my late teens and early twenties. Also years had gone by when I didn’t get any new ink because of my fear of missing out on work, otherwise known as FOMO. Wait, is that how the kids say it today? I honestly don’t know, but eventually one day in the Fall of last year, remnants of that Queen song came back into my life in a completely new way. I heard this new EDM track by Deorro called “I Can Be Somebody.” Listen to what she is saying….
Sounds a lot like the same message from before, right? Now, I’ll be honest, it’s not the most masculine sounding track about love that I have ever heard, but new appealing rock n roll music about love doesn’t really exist anymore. Plus I have to remember that even though I was thinking about that elusive female love interest when I would sing along to Queen, I’m 100% positive that Freddie Mercury probably wrote that song about a dude. I digress.
Regardless, it only took me about 24 hours after hearing “I Can Be Somebody” before I decided to get “Someone to Love” tattooed on my arm, an idea that had been implanted in my brain since the early 90s when I was first introduced to music that was inspirational. Yeah, I may be a little dramatic, but I don’t feel bad that art and music mean something to me and the fact remains that a beautiful and important message hidden in the lyrics of a song always seems to find me at the right time. I needed to hear that song and I needed to get that tattoo so I could remind myself that I was lovable. I don’t think I ever thought of myself that way before, and what a shame it would have been if I never had.
I don’t think “giving up” is the correct phrase for how I decided that Hollywood wasn’t my bag. Let’s just say the day I got this tattoo, I left something behind that wasn’t working for me anymore. I had been through hell the past few months, and I decided I needed a constant reminder of what really mattered to me now. Truth is, I came to an awareness and realization about myself that I had been ignoring for far too long. I know now that I’m a good person. I may be a “single” good person, but just because I don’t have someone to love in my life right now doesn’t mean that I’m not capable of being that someone.
Tattoos don’t hinder me from getting work anymore, in fact I think they have helped me. They have become a conversation starter and talking point for everyone I serve a drink to up in Seattle. I would go on to get three more tattoos before last year was over, but it all comes back to this one on my forearm that really means the most to me because it has such an important message.
I’m able to love myself permanently now, and I’m sure love will find me when it’s right. And this time, I’ll be ready for it. It’s imperative to me to be that person to love first before I am able to meet and reciprocate the type of love that I think I deserve. And me, we all deserve to be loved.