Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A mark on your permanent record

I will slap you if I see you with a Tweety bird tattoo. You should probably thank me if I do. It may be too late for that little indelible ink mistake, but perhaps you'll think before the next one.

I don't understand tattoos, although I have graduated from, "Why? Why? WHY?" to, "I just don't get it." Mostly. Mostly I don't get it, but there have been a few glimmers of moments where I kind of almost did.

I don't know what it is about my town, but tattoos are on prominent display all the time. Maybe it's because tank tops are the de rigeur uniform in a beach town, or maybe it's because I'm at the gym a lot and those people love their tatts, or maybe it's because we are a nesting place for tattoo junkies. I don't know. But I see them all the time. And I am trying not to judge, but this is my blog and I'll vomit out anti-tatto prejudices and stereotypes if I want to.

My tattoo thoughts:

1. If you have the lower back stamp....please tell me you did it when it was still kind of original. And please tell me it's not some swirly design with your initials. If it is, may I ask: wouldn't it be easier to wear a name tag? You could switch up the colors and fonts whenever you wanted. Cool, right?

2. If you have tattoos on your face, tell me it's just those permanent eyebrows and you're over seventy and you've earned the right not to draw them on anymore if you don't want to, d*#n it.

3. If you have a cartoon character tattoo, I don't have any questions for you because there is nothing that will make me understand.

4. If you got some kind of Asian symbol, why not just spell it out in English so we can all enjoy your thoughts on Peace or Hope or High Gas Prices Suck, or whatever you inscribed on your chest/bicep/wrist, etc.? I mean, how am I supposed to know you're into Serenity and not just Chinese characters because they have cool spiky points? I'm just saying.

5. If you have a full arm of tattoos, with some really ornate picture, I feel obligated to tell you that real sleeves are warmer and: interchangeable. Yep. You don't have to wear the same one everyday! Neat!

6. To the guy at his kid's Little League game with the bare-chested hula girl on his calf, um...would it have killed you to wear pants that day? Because none of those six-year-olds could keep their eye on the ball, especially when your calf muscles rippled. Whoa.

7. If you're a girl with a tattoo on the back of your neck, I'm wondering if you hate never being able to wear a ponytail to work, ever. Bummer. You actually have to do your hair everyday.

Now, I said I mostly don't get it. But I've seen a few episodes of LA Ink and I've learned not to subtract automatic class or IQ points for EVERY tattoo I see. Just most of them. And my son's best friend's dad is a tattoo artist so I do get the art part of it. And maybe even the hardcore aesthetic commitment that leads to wanting to wear art forever. Mostly. I'll never get tattooing your boyfriend's or wife's name anywhere. I don't really get the cheesy rose or dolphin thing (and I know I'm rubbing a few people the wrong way with that, but I don't). But sometimes there's a story that I maybe understand. Like my sister-in-law who has a tattoo on her shoulder memorializing the three babies she lost in her second trimester. They're still a part of her, the tatto says. In fact, that's the only one I've ever seen that I can say I really get.

But a confession: I've wondered what I would get if I got a tattoo. Maybe everybody does. And after careful deliberation, I know the answer. I would get a tattoo of a piece of food at the corner of my mouth. Can you imagine the good times I'd have with that?

What about you? Do you have a tattoo that would make sense to me if I knew the reason why? Have you figured out what tattoo you would get if you ever took the plunge? I'm willing to learn. Mostly.

Seven comments to move on, people. And mine don't count.


LisAway said...

I don't really get them either. My first boyfriend had a seahorse on his upper arm. I thought that was dumb. Extremely dumb. He just kept saying "tatoos are cool!" He was wrong. Especially since he got it shortly after coming back from his mission. I'm a little confused about that.

I HATE to say, though, that I know that if was forced to get one it would be a little chain around my ankle. Not a chain but some sort of something going around there. I would never ever do it though, unless someone honestly threatened to kill me if I didn't.

Annette Lyon said...

Yeah, I don't get them either. You said it all so much better than I could, so I'll just say I agree.

I always thought a tiny CTR shield (on an ankle, maybe) would be pretty funny.

Melanie J said...

Ha ha, Annette! That would be the funniest tattoo ever.

Nancy said...

That was good - and funny too. I asked John the other day, when he was here, if he had a tattoo - yoiks...he does and I helped design it without knowing what I was doing!
down one side of his back it says imagine with parts of the letters missing - so you have to "imagine" what it says! I guess JGO likes his spiky designs. What does J.A. think about it all? I can't even imagine. I have a friend you had sort of a bracelet tattoed where she usually wears a bracelet....I think they are ugly. I think I would get tattooed on my ear on that little place where it inhibits your appetite...ya right.
Allen has 2 little dots of tattoo on his back where they gave him radiation after colon cancer. That works! It has been 16 years...wahoo!

Annette Lyon said...

Another thought--my dad actually has a tattoo, and so do most people who grew up Cache Valley at the time he did.

Due to WWII, people worried about major bombings or disasters and being able to treat people fast enough with transfusions, so all the children received nickle-sized tattoos on their side stating their blood type. That's how I know Dad's B+.

One of those quirky things.

Kimberly said...

The only tattoos I've ever seen that made sense to me are the wedding bands my friend and her husband had done. They're beautiful and permanent, and the symbolism behind that makes me smile and go gooey inside.

As to the rest though, amen/ditto to your entire post. Brilliantly expressed, by the way.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

I once asked a co-worker if it hurt to get the tattoos. She said it did but it was worth it. I told her I didn't think I could purposely subject myself to pain like that. She pointed out that I had chosen to have three kids. End of discussion.

Personally, I wouldn't get one. I like changing what I wear too much and wouldn't like how permanent a tattoo is.

Heather of the EO said...

No, no tattoos here. If i would have gotten one back when I was young and clueless, it would have totally taken on a different shape by now. Ew.

Josi said...

I've got a tatoo--maybe I'll blog about the whole story one of these days--but it's small and easy to hide and not particularly pretty these days. As for why--I was 18 and my friends and I were wanting a 'connection' so we all got the same tatoo--funny thing, I talk to one of these BFFs every other year or so and the other one I haven't seen in almost fourteen years. I also know a guy with a big CTR sheild on his back, got it a few days before he went into the MTC to get out the last of his rebellion. He's terribly embarassed by it now because it gives an anti-mormon connotation. stay tuned, I'll post all about my tatoo next week or something. However, I do think they are stupid and they hurt like H3LL

tricki_nicki said...

This was so funny! I was totally laughing about the name tag thing.

It's a miracle that I never got a tatoo. If I did though, I'm pretty sure I would have gotten my boyfriend's name in Chinese lettering in the middle of a rose on top of swirly things, on my neck.

Kenny the Tatto-less said...

I believe I'm the only shorn-headed, goatee-ed guy in Huntington Beach without a tatoo.

If there were no prophetic counsel against it, I would still be hard pressed to come up with something I'd want on my body for the rest of my life. But here are a few possibilities:

1. A reproduction of Picasso's ink drawing of Don Quixote. Probably on my shoulder blade. Don Quixote is my favorite novel of all time. Picasso's not so bad himself.

2. Chinese dragons on my forearms, like Caine in Kung Fu. Except they be in ink, not burned into my flesh. Because the ink seems slightly less painful.

3. The words "Place Tag Here" on the underside of my big toe...the coroner would have to laugh, it would totally make the his day.

4. The Never Again tatoo from the X-Files episode of the same name. I'd love the irony of a tatoo that says "Never Again".

5. Or maybe just this. Except I'd have to get a little electrolysis done on my back first, otherwise what's the use? Really? BTW, does anyone know who the guy in the upper right hand corner is? I don't really recognize that prophet.

Annette Lyon said...

Kenny, that lat one is just so wrong! Considering that everyone from Joseph Smith on down is represented, I'm guessing the guy in the corner is the dude who's back we're looking at--you can tell he's got a big, white beard.

Alison Wonderland said...

I wouldn't get a tattoo but I'll admit there's a little part of me that wants one. I don't know why. I absolutely agree with all your reasoning and yet... (I think maybe I'd just like to have something to "prove" that I'm not just a dowdy mother of 4.) As to what I'd get I have no earthly idea. I don't think there's anything that I like enough to have on me forever.
I can totally get behind your sister's tattoo. Three babies into the third trimester. Wow, how could they not always be a part of you?

Eowyn said...

I'm so laughing my head off here. And remembering the time in my life where I decided (before the whole prophetic counsel thing) that some day I'd either get a tattoo or a Harly. Ok I actually wouldn't get either. I'm too big of a wimp. And I don't like the permanent-ness of them.

If I had it would have been a small rose on my ankle. Totally cheesy and just like every one else, but hey, what can I say?

charrette said...

Tattoos don't even tempt me. Not even enough to muse about what I MIGHT do if I DID.

BUT...We did see a particularly scarring tattoo at Disneyland. A biker-Grandma in a halter top with a giant tattoo that was a half-sleeve, then ran all the way across her shoulders and back, and halfway down the other arm. I'm embarrassed to say we stared. Like how you can't tear yourself away from a train wreck.

Nope. Not a temptation.

Anonymous said...

Found your blog from I don't know where but I am enjoying it. I don't get the tattoo fixation either. Don't people realize that one day they are going to get OLD? Nothing ruins a lovely white, strapless wedding dress like a big black starburst on your shoulder blade. Not for me thanks! - G