OK, I’LL ADMIT THIS UP FRONT – today’s blog comes under the heading of “Geezer Rant.” There is no great social content, no thunderbolts of wisdom, not even anything that might be worth putting on a T-shirt.
I want to talk about tattoos.
I am of a generation that looked upon tattoos as something you saw on sailors on leave and guys doing hard time. And Popeye – who, while he technically was a sailor, he was, in reality, nothing more than ink on paper.
That was about it. If my mother was walking down the street and saw someone approaching who had tattoos who wasn’t in uniform she would clutch her purse a little bit tighter. “Nice people” just didn’t get tattoos.
News Flash! Times have changed!
Starting in the late 1970s I think we began to see tattoos appearing on people outside of the aforementioned groups. It was also about the time that Popeye disappeared from the public consciousness (Strictly coincidental, I’m sure).
Rock musicians started sporting more tattoos. Then they started popping up on Deadheads and other fringe elements of Fandom.
Little by not so little, more and more people began to dive into the ink. It came to be viewed as a bit of sexy rebellion. Tiny butterflies and hearts were showing up in places where they would only be seen by lovers and gynecologists.
Then, over the ensuing decades, the territory expanded into what has become known as the “Tramp Stamp.” That is an unfortunate label, but I didn’t make it up. Fashion and tattooing merged and soon the only piece of skin that wasn’t considered available as a canvas was the face. Well, that seems to have changed as I see an increasing number of people with those permanent reminders of a temporary idea on their mug.
OK…here comes the real Geezerism part.
Putting a tattoo, of whatever variety, on your face sends only one of two messages to the world: 1) I’m going to reject you, world, before you reject me! or 2) “Screw you, Mom and Dad! How do you like this?”
Actually both messages are pretty much the same when you get down to it.
I seriously don’t anticipate seeing anyone on the cover of Business Week who also has marijuana leaves tattooed on their forehead. I don’t expect them to see them in any job that doesn’t require a hairnet and a paper hat.
I used to know a woman who ran a tattoo parlor on Haight Street in San Francisco and we chatted about this one afternoon. For a person who made her living with ink and needles she tended to agree with me. She was loaded with tattoos herself, but not on her face or her hands. She advised her customers to not get anything that couldn’t be covered up for the workplace.
She encouraged me to get tattooed. I declined. I did told her that I didn’t like needles and, if I were to ever sit in her chair, I would get a tattoo of my name and address so, that if I was found unconscious, my rescuers could at least send me home. She suggested that I add the line “Return postage guaranteed.” Clever girl.
I think that it must be a generational thing. I have ZERO desire to get a tattoo – no matter how drunk I might get or desirous of being considered cool. It ain’t gonna happen.
In fact, I’ve been doing a little speculative research and I think that tattoo removal will be a major growth industry over the next few decades. When today’s rebellious billboards see those multicolored eagles on their chests starting to look like badly bruised pigeons and the Tramp Stamps disappear under the muffin tops, there will be lines around the block at “Mom’s Laser Tattoo Removal Shop.”
My friend who owned the tattoo parlor told me that getting a tattoo removed was time consuming, expensive, and “It hurts like hell.”
Alright, we have reached the end of my Geezer Rant for today. Far be it from me to tell anyone what they should or should not do. If you are old enough to get a tattoo and you are ready to live with it forever – go ahead. I won’t stop you. But, for crying out loud, don’t put a picture of Popeye on your face.
Remember my motto for Life: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.