This will mark you for life

I don't understand tattoos.  Or at least I don't understand why people get them.  Sure, I have friends who have some.  I even like some of the artwork (and, honestly, who doesn't like the shapes of the canvases on  I'm part of this time in this culture where they're popular.  But I still don't get it.

I've thought about getting a tattoo myself, but I just can't think of one I wouldn't regret.  I mean, some of them look good but only on the person you are *now*.  I've bought clothes I've regretted and wanted to return the next day.  How could I get something that I might feel even ambivalent about a few months later?  This is something that could be on me for (only) the rest of my life.

I guess that's the crux of it for me.  I can't help but see tattoos as a short-sighted indulgence with long-lasting consequences.  I change my desktop wallpaper every couple weeks.  I change my clothes every day (okay, most of the time).  I can't change my face, but a tattoo is like a permanent mark.  It's like the opposite of an Etch-a-Sketch.

Incidentally, shouldn't there be an age limit on how long you get to keep your outdated tattoo?  You wouldn't wear clothes from a different era, right?  And you dress your age, right?  Some of these people are walking archeology exhibits.  No, that is NOT cool.  My parents are up in years.  Their older siblings fought in WWII.  Sure, I like Betty Boop, but it's pretty damned sad to see her on a 70 or 80 year-old man's arm.  That's like these Gen X guys with the Transformers symbol on their arm.  Most people who were in junior high anytime after 1985 go, "What the fuck is that?"  I look at tats of Star Wars symbols and characters, and I think, "Man, I guess I'm not enough of a fanboy to mark myself for life."

Of course, at least these are things that are cultural significant (if only to a limited audience).  I can't figure out when a significant portion of the tattooed segment of the population became fluent in Eastern writings.  I mean, obviously you know what the hell that Japanese writing is on your arm because I sure don't.  It must be something you can read, right?  Personally, since I have no linguistic skills outside of English, it would take a monumental feat or trust or alcohol-induced stupidity for me to allow a complete stranger who dropped out at age 16 in the 8th grade to put any foreign symbol on me.  I'm sure my first trip to the Far East would be punctuated with snickers provoked by the fact that what I thought read as "Strength and Perseverance" actually translated to "Stupid, gullible gaijin."

And what's up with the girlfriend's name on your arm?  Didn't Normal Rockwell lampoon this short-sighted trend half a century ago?

Oh, ladies, there are some places that you simply are not going to want a tattoo.  Just so we don't dwell on it longer than we have to, let me sum it up in a couple words: Stretching and sagging.  And you better be infertile to be thinking about about putting one... well, anywhere.

Sorry, I'm just not cool enough for you.  I can't get past these things.  I'm sure for one reason or another I would quickly find my way to a laser removal specialist.

Before you even ask, you don't even wanna get me started on ear gauging.

(Note: Maybe this blog is about you, maybe it isn't.)

Some random replies to comments made to the original blog above:

Random reply #1
I can't handle permanence when I make so many mistakes (note typos above).  The way I express myself on the web gets to be carefully controlled and is infinitely malleable.  If I want to get rid of a web page I composed/posted and am later embarrassed by or is found to be inaccurate, well, so long!  I just delete it (...and eventually it will disappear from all the search engines' caches).  Friends have remarked on the fact that I post bulletins of original content 20 times more often than to the blog.  Maybe that's because I kind of like the fact that they disappear after ten days... not decades.

Random reply #2
I think maybe my objection stems from a different aspect of the permanence of tattoos: The fact that I just want to brush them off.  For example, Dani has this little mole on the corner of her eye that her grandmother and I always tried to wipe away.  That's how I always look at tattoos.  It annoys me when they don't go with an outfit or are obscured by part of it.  I want it to work with the "piece," but you can't shift them around to a better position or resize them in Photoshop.
As at least some of you know, I modify the electronics in a lot of my guitars.  However, you wouldn't know that to look at most of them.  I try to preserve the stock appearance by replacing existing electronics and/or adding hidden controls (e.g., a push-pull potentiometer so a knob doubles as a switch).  I don't like drilling new holes or sticking something else in there even to improve the function or playability if it clutters things aesthetically.  Oh, and I don't do decals.  Not even the pin-ups gals on the Gretsch.  Brian Setzer does... and has tattoos.  Coincidence?

Random reply #3
I added the little caveat about the "maybe this blog is about you" because a friend of mine is thinking about getting a tattoo.  I had already written the above, but only just got around to posting it yesterday.  Similarly, I didn't notice until I had already written that entry, but her guy has at least one Asian symbol tat.  I figured, what the hell; I wasn't talking about him, and I posted it anyway.  I thought of a few other friends and their respective tattoos after I composed most of this and still more since yesterday.  Actually, I wasn't thinking of anyone in particular, but I did an image search and came up with some examples of some awful tattoos for inspiration.
Still, the winner for the all-time worst taste goes to this one that Dom found and photographed (by feigning adulation of it to its owner/medium, if I recall correctly):

Random reply #4
Brandi's right; I do look at anything extraneous as a blemish.  This goes deeper than tattoos.  I like minimalist things.  I keep my nails cut to the quick.  I kept my hair cut so short that I didn't even know it was thinning for probably a couple years.  My goatee is trimmed even shorter.  You don't want to know about the rest of the hair.  I don't wear anything with stripes or prints, and the few t-shirts I have with anything on them identify them as Dani's charity run give-aways, blood donor shirts, or from foster groups/humane societies.  The furniture are all solid colors.  I only have three things hanging on walls throughout the house (not counting the guitars), and one of those is a clock.  I like it when there's nothing on the tops of tables or countertops (though Dani conspires to prevent this from ever becoming a reality).  I don't like knick knacks, although they can be found in abundance throughout the house because I like cardboard boxes full of knick knacks even less.  My screen saver is set to "blank."  I don't decorate my monitor with anything you might buy from Spencers.  I don't put stickers on anything.

Copyright 2006 Alexplorer.
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