Dear Clinging Panther Tattoo,

Hang in there, friend. It’s been thirty years that you’ve been perched up there, claws digging into that increasingly ample deltoid. Those small drops of simulated blood are a sign of your tenacity, and I’ll be damned if you fall off now. I see you twisted around to look at me, a visage of rage with your exposed fangs that has turned into a pained grimace of exhaustion.

Don’t give up. You made it through two failed marriages and endured that thumbhead of a stepson Jeffrey. Brave panther, you soldiered through massage school, your water aerobics phase and even the cupcake craze. The ink in your sleek coat has grown muddled and your tail ragged, and the sun damage has made you occasionally appear to be a bald squirrel. But don’t give in. If a drunken poor choice from a Poison tour can’t survive in the 21st century, where’s the hope for the rest of us?

Play your cards right and you’ve got another twenty-plus years, including the chance to lay in the sun on a few cruises in Alaska and the Bahamas. No more days spent in a telemarketing cubicle freezing from the air conditioning and growing annoyed by the squawky and desperate cries of Daryl the supervisor. Picture your ancient ancestors prowling through the Mayan city of Tikal, their jaguar nature adored and feared. I’ll be there with you, and we will run through the jungle devouring tourists to feed on their entrails.

You can survive another two-for-one margarita karaoke night, proud warrior. I believe in you.

David Hart