It’s a P2C2E

August 17th, 2015

How does a stroke of genius 
Strike on the stroke of 3?
By a P2C2E.

Like most people of my generation, I have tattoos. One is on my lower back and I don’t want to talk about it. I got it in my early twenties, so. The other is on the back of my neck.  


I got this one about five years ago after a bad breakup. I bet 95 percent of the tattoos in the world were the results of breakups. I was also in the midst of a Salman Rushdie fixation and had just read his brilliant children’s book Haroun and the Sea of Stories. In this book, there’s a character who has a stock answer to everything he doesn’t want to talk about it:

“It’s a P2C2E.”

I love this book, and the initialism. It really spoke to me at that time, and it still does. In a way I can’t even explain. Let me explain.

As a writer and lifelong lover of books, I also adore that it’s a literary reference by one of the smartest, most imaginative authors of our time. But what I didn’t count on when I got these characters embossed on such a prominent part of my body was that I would then be charged with having to spend the rest of my life explaining the meaning to every random stranger with an outgoing personality.

“What does your tattoo mean?”

“It’s a process too complicated to explain.” 

[ awkward pause ]


“No, that’s what it means.” 


People don’t get it. And I don’t really care. Tattoos, obviously, are for the wearer and the wearer alone. But I sort of wish I had gotten this tattoo in a more private spot. However, I have this thing about symmetry which prevented me from tattooing a single appendage. And I have this thing about eventual flabbiness which prevented me from tattooing it a lot of other places. And I liked the proximity to my head, since the meaning of the tattoo is esoteric in nature.

The other day, someone I had just met asked me: “Obviously the P stands for Phoebe and the E for Eliza, but what do the other characters stand for?”

I had never realized until that moment that I gave my daughters names that sync up w the letters of my tattoo. This was not on purpose, but whoa. I don’t generally look for abstract meaning in things, but I can’t help but wondering what the C stands for, now that I know.

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One Response to “It’s a P2C2E”

  1. Amelia says:

    Chocolate Chip Cookies?
    Miss you, Dear One.

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