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Mom's Tattoo Inspires Book Of Family Essays

Longtime Rolling Stone music journalist, GQ sex columnist and former MTV2 veejay Jancee Dunn was initially horrified when her 67-year-old mother announced after Thanksgiving dinner that she was getting a tattoo.

"We were all finishing up dessert and then my mother made this crazy announcement," Dunn tells Liane Hansen. "She said, 'I'm getting a tattoo and nobody can talk me out of it. I've already decided.'"

The family uproar surrounding Dunn's mother's announcement is just one of the dramas Dunn details in her new book of essays, Why is My Mother Getting a Tattoo?

Dunn describes her family as "very close — almost too close." She and her two sisters and parents e-mail and call each other several times a day, and major decisions cannot be made without familial input.

In the case of her mother's tattoo, the whole family was up in arms: "This is a woman who wears pink cable-knit sweaters. She's a member of the garden club and the women's club in her community," Dunn says. "And I thought — a giant black raven right on your wrist? It clashes with the cable-knit. But she was determined."

Dunn says her mother was wildly out of place at the tattoo parlor: "We were led to this kind of lair. And it had a brain in formaldehyde; it was very dark. There were these posters everywhere of various rock bands, and I thought, I can't believe I'm here."

But her mother, who dressed in a light green coat for the occasion, had "a grand old time." And, Dunn adds, "it's a fairly delicate design of a raven."

Still, the family is still getting used to her mother's ink; Dunn says her father "jumps like a roach has crawled out of her sleeve," when her mother leans across the table to pass a plate during dinner.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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