Photo taken by Red at Prison Break Tattoos


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I still can't believe that Sawyer actually did it. I thought it'd be something she'd talk about for a while.


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I never had a doubt. Once she mentioned it to me, it was obvious she had thought it through.


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Well, when I got Natasha her first tattoo as her high school graduation gift four years ago, the last thing I ever imagined was that I'd be giving Sawyer the same gift.


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That is because Natasha has "attitude" and an independent streak, so being the first in the family to get a tat was totally in keeping with her personality.


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No kidding! Whereas Sawyer's a hard-working student-athlete that graduated from high school with honors. She's very social, and her friends seem as "clean-cut" as she is. All-in-all, not the type you associate with tattoos.

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You are showing your age. And, stereotyping people. Maybe years ago, only a certain "type" of person got tats – criminals, gang-members, uneducated, rebellious. Now, they have become mainstream, and people who get tats demonstrate many positive traits.


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I know, and I thought I got over my preconceived notions when Natasha got her first tattoo and then started getting more. But it just seems so out-of-character for Sawyer.


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Really? Out of character for someone who is very creative and is working toward a career in the entertainment world? Someone who understands and appreciates the power of storytelling and the meaning of words and imagery? Someone who knows herself well enough to carefully select a tat that has a deep personal meaning?


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Since you put it that way, maybe it's not out-of-character. I guess no more so than you getting a tattoo that matched Natasha's first one and now Sawyer's.


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The one I share with Natasha is meaningful because it was my first tat and we share that. This one is meaningful because Sawyer came up with a very creative way to remedy a "challenge" that we share.


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Remarkably, it was only a few years ago that she told me that she has trouble knowing her left from her right. At first, I thought she was kidding, but then remembered you don't know your right from your left. But when she recently told me she wanted to get two tattoos, an "L" and an "R", to help her remember, I just laughed.


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And, when she told me that the other night, I told her I thought it was brilliant. Although, you clearly were no longer amused.


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That's because I realized she was serious. At one point, she had talked about getting an arrow tattoo as a reminder of her summers at camp, but it was only very recently that she mentioned the "L" and the "R." The idea of a tattoo started as "maybe, one day in the future." But the other night, it became "one day very soon" and yesterday it actually happened!


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It is human nature that you will always think of her as your little girl, but Sawyer is growing up and about to leave for college. This tat is the perfect graduation gift for her as it acknowledges that you trust her decision-making skills.


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I know that intellectually. But since it's something permanent, I just wanted to make sure that she wasn't having second thoughts. And that she understood it could lead to future tattoos since we've seen from Natasha how tattoos can become "addictive".


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Even I have told you that after the first one, I started thinking about getting inked again. However, it never dawned on me I might be "sharing" my second tat with Sawyer. And, at Prison Break, where I got my first one. But, I am thrilled it worked out that way.


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Which makes it even more special for her, too. So, I'm thrilled for both of you. Especially since both of you will finally know your left from your right.
Rendering by porcorex on iStock


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Based on the "hints" in your Ghosting post, it sounds like your recent "romance" wasn't quite a Lady GaGa "bad romance", but, well, a frustrating one.


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Interesting comparison, as years ago Gaga revealed that she is drawn to bad romances, but is not sure if she goes after them or they find her. Regardless, my "relationship" ended in the dating stage and never really became a romance. Either when I dated him almost 30 years ago, or recently. Although, this time, I thought it had potential.


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I was amazed that you were even willing to "rekindle" the relationship as you're not exactly a believer in "recycling" relationships, as I think you once phrased it. In fact, I thought you were pretty adamant about the concept of not repeating your mistakes.
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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

It started when Black sent Red a LinkedIn post about Louis Armstrong, asking her to "connect the dots" (one of Black's favorite things to do). Red knew that he was one of the most distinctive and talented jazz musicians in American history, but it was a complete surprise to learn that he had such a strong connection to a Jewish couple that immigrated from Lithuania and that he wore a Star of David for most of his life to honor them. That alone made it a "truth is stranger than fiction" story. The fact it's also a touching story about kindness and love makes this, at least for Red, even better than fiction.

Black, who prefers the pragmatic aspects of Armstrong's unusual journey – from being an impoverished black boy to an extraordinary career as a musician, singer, and composer – and sees it as a story of overcoming barriers, realizing your potential, and finding freedom (and she discloses an interesting connection between Armstrong and Independence Day).

Our July column, "RED & BLACK … The Sound Of Freedom," connects all those dots and is about so much more than surprising facts about Louis Armstrong. It's also about the power of music, inspiration, and hope, not to mention a very different way of looking at freedom.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Everyone laughs and wants to hear the story when I mention that I was recently "ghosted" by someone I had dated. What I find interesting is that ghosting has become so prevalent in today's society (and is not restricted to dating) that there is a term to describe the sudden "disappearance" of someone who wants to avoid all future contact with you.

Going back decades, I know there have been first dates that, at the time, I thought went well. But, after getting the "I'll call you" line … I never did. As a teenager, I can remember anxiously waiting for the phone (a landline tethered to the wall – and yes, I am that old) to ring, not wanting to go out and possibly miss the call. And, being very disappointed by the silence. Now, I cannot even remember who they were.

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