Tuesday, January 15, 2008

An Open Question to Blogdom

To tattoo or not to tattoo, that is the question.

Now, before I get into this, I know tattoos have become ubiquitous. Like, to a ridiculous extent. I would say near fifty percent of the people with whom I went to college - and a full 90 percent of the women I have dated (Which should be another post altogether!) - were inked up in some form or fashion, and that was at a small, conservative, private Christian school in the Great State of Texas. Most of these tattoos, and apologies to my friends who may recognize some of their own skin art in here, were cuffs around the ankle, Christian symbols on the inside of the wrist, or flowers/butterflies/Thumper (Yes, Thumper of Bambi fame) on the small of the back...Oh, and Chinese characters. What's with that? To quote Inigo Montoya,"I do not think that means what you think that means." These little acts of rebellion were just that. Little. Most of the tattoos were picked off of walls during a drunken outing in Dallas or Austin, few of them were larger than a silver dollar, and all were easily concealed from polite company...or bosses.

My sister and I have, from time to time, discussed pulling the trigger on getting tattooed, but have always stopped short because we couldn't imagine committing anything to our bodies for time everlasting. And thank God. I can't imagine what my eighteen year old self would have chosen to permanently brand my body, but rest assured, my twenty seven year old self would have remembered my eighteen year old self not-so-fondly as a massive douchebag every time he looked at whatever God awful design said teenager had chosen.

So, why do I ask? Well, obviously I'm thinking about getting one (A tattoo, not a douchebag). We're going on two years now and the thought of what to get and where has not changed. I have devoted some serious thought to this, but I'm still on the fence. The salient points: This tattoo would be VERY visible in short sleeves. My father would lose the rest of his hair upon seeing his only son besmirched with vibrant ink colors and do the disapproving, dimpled smirk that my family knows all too well. My mother would let out the same forlorn sigh I remember from the time she woke me up on a Monday morning when I was still in high school to discover that I had dyed my hair an electric shade of red dubbed "pretty flamingo". My grandparents, well, they might catch on fire. Seriously.

But the tattoo would mean something. It would be in memory of a friend and it would remind me to embrace life and love and beauty...it would also hurt like hell, cost more than a few dollars, and remain into old age, illegibly shriveled on my forearm, presented brazenly to the scrutiny of my future grandchildren (should I be able to convince a woman to ever sleep with me again).

So, thoughts? Questions? Advice? Dire warnings? It's open season, let me have it!


Airam said...

I think tattoos need to be well-thought out before actually doing it. My parents would kill me if I got one but I still want to do it ... eventually I'll get it. I know what I want, just need to figure out the spot.

Rachel said...

Duuuuuude. I am SO still thinking about getting one, and if you do decide to go for it, I want to be there. So maybe think about doing it during the third week in March, the 17th-23rd (notice I have not said that drunken douche-fest most call Spring Break-- they just happen to occur at the same time). You're right-- Dad's doing the slow, mournful head shake on this one, but my only hesitation and advice would be to really research the colors and chemicals in the inks, especially if you're thinking of blue. There are different chemical compounds for each of the colors, and I think some are considered safer than others. Also, why the forearm and not the shoulder? Ooh, now I'm inspired to write about tattoos...

K said...

I'm just really glad I didn't recognize my own tattoo in that list of tramp-stamps and ankle cuffs.

The main reason that I don't regret my tattoo is because I thought long and hard before getting it, it's something which still holds a lot of meaning for me (and which is its actual meaning, not a bunch of random Chinese characters) and because I got it in a very discreet place (not the small of my back). The last thing is -- I think -- more important for ladies than gentlemen, so that may not apply to you.

I'm a big advocate of tattoos, but only as long as they truly mean something to you -- as weird or ridiculous as that something may be to someone else -- and are well-though out. You seem to be fitting all the bills so far... Also, make sure you do your research as far as finding a good tattoo artist. You don't want to get stuck with something like this hot mess.

That said, it's a personal decision. Just make sure it's a good tattoo, because those laser removal places are damn pricey. ;)

Pancho said...

airam, my old man actually surprised me and hit me with the old,"You can do whatever you want, just be sure it's what you want." Not that I needed permission, but he said none of the things I expected.

Rachel, the shoulder is for anchors and hearts that say "mom"...please! So maybe March, eh?

K, where do you find these photos? Too much time at work? Also, I don't remember your tat. Did you have it when we were running around together? I was thinking of getting Robert Smith on my ass but decided against it.

K said...

You can't just get Robert Smith's head on your ass, you have to get the entire phrase: "I'm Gay For The Cure." Like, inside of a little heart on your upper arm. And then you can get each of the members of The Cure tattooed around the heart. I'm just full of good ideas like that.

I got my tattoo as soon as I turned 18, so it was briefly after we met. I would say about a handful of my friends even know that I have one. I'm frankly surprised you didn't notice it, but it's probably for the best. :)

And it's not that I have too much time at work, it's that I don't use the time I have wisely, i.e., doing actual work.

SanO16 said...

coming from the "besmirched" faction of society i will only say this: if what you get will mean something to you for the rest of your life and remind you of that time, person, love, etc - then go for it, it will be a constant reminder of what you hold dear or how you want to live. If you just think you'll look like a badass, don't do it, because you will most certainly not look like a badass in fourty years when its drooping and elongated. And hell, you can always get it removed if your idea turned out to exemplify douchbaggery.

An American in Aland said...

Ok, Doug. So I've been sitting here in my apartment in Finland and reading through all your blog-postings. Yes, since practice does not start until tomorrow and my fruit-picking job has not yet been cultivated (get it?), there is not much for me to do besides peruse your ridiculous, hilarious, and occasionally heartfelt accounts of door-to-door salesman catastrophes and donut-burgers (I'll have you know that at the local diner Triple XXX (what a fuckin' name that is) on Purdue University's campus, they serve the Pervis Burger (what a fuckin' name that is). It is famous because it comes slathered in peanutbutter. Yes, I have tried it once but I was blacked-out. And it was delicious.) I've been laughing aloud at all your various witticisms but have chosen first to respond to this post.
Okay, tattoos:
Yes, I have one. On the small of my back (that's right--I've been stamped like a tramp. I've got a bullseye, a California license plate, butt antlers, an alley tag, the universal whore tattoo). And, wait for it: it's a cross. Oh shit! I have simply just lost all credibility. But here's the thing about tattoos: everyone is always talking about getting them but waiting for inspiration to strike in the form of a perfectly original design full of ridiculous "meaning." Oh, and it absolutely better be a representation of a life-changing experience, a strong, personal belief, or the loss of a loved-one. Only then can your tattoo be legit, right?
...hhhmmm. Maybe. The problem with coming up with the perfectly "meaningful" tattoo is that people change. I'm not sure that anyone is ever going to find a tattoo that will absolutely represent who he is for the rest of his life. I was religious in high school, so at the age of 18, in an act of Christian-rebellion, I walked into the Metamorphosis Tattoo Parlor (yes Doug, right there in B-Ripp) to get the cross-tattoo on my lower back. It meant a lot to me at the time. It was also a nice spot because it could be concealed if necessary. Of course, I no longer identify myself as particularly religious, but the tattoo is still there. I don't mind, though, because it represents a time of my life. I look at it and remember the summer after my senior year of high school when I was encouraged by my crazy and tatted-up Australian friend Ross to sack-up and get a tattoo. My friend Lauren went with me to pierce her eyebrow. My tattoo artist made sexual comments as I bent over in front of him with my ass-crack out so he could line up the cross (it's off-centered, by the way. I guess he was distracted). It reminds me that Christianity was a big part of my life at one time and that it played a role in who I am today. The point is, although the symbol of a cross does not carry a lot of meaning for me now, my cross-tattoo does. I have no regrets.

Tattoos are permanent. Big deal. They are art and representations of different stages of your life. I think I'm ready for new one...something representing adventure. So whatever you believe in, whether it's beauty and truth and long-lost friends, or sex and drugs and rock-and-roll, or Mom and crosses and butterflies, and you also believe in art...then stop talking about tattoos, and just get one. Sack-up.