Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tattoo you?

Ready for an old-fogey moment? You’d better be, ‘cause here it comes.

Unless you are literally blind (and maybe adding the word mercifully wouldn’t be hyperbole for this particular subject), you can not have failed to see the insane proliferation of so-called body art, aka tattooing, that has shown up on America’s collective epidermis over the last 10-15 years.

I was reminded of tattooing’s pervasiveness, not to mention its unattractiveness, yesterday when I went to the Colorado state fair. You couldn’t swing the proverbial dead cat without hitting at least six people of both sexes with varying degrees of epidermal-embedded ink. One young woman, who was quite attractive otherwise, had some type of scroll work splashed across her chest, which she proudly displayed via her low-cut blouse. From the distance I first spied her she looked to have a hairy chest. (I don’t know about you, but, to my mind, women should have hair in only two places, and the chest ain’t one of them.) In addition, I saw many, MANY “tribal” armband tats, pictures, words, and indistinct--for lack of a better term--somethings, all permanently affixed to various arms, backs, chests, ankles, and necks.

It was ghastly.

Why do people do this to themselves, especially women? Say it, spell it, say it with me people: It’s ugly, U-G-L-Y, ugly!, as Mr. Kunstler points out in his latest 17-min. podcast (#29). I’m not sure about some of his theories as to why indelibly marking oneself has become such a cultural phenomenon today, but it’s fun to listen to him slam on the whole tattoo-nation thing anyway.

Even though I find the whole idea of tattooing distasteful and primitive, I don’t believe anyone should pass a law prohibiting it, not that I have heard anyone actually contemplating doing so. I’m too libertarian for that. This works both ways, however, and I believe employers should be, without fear of prosecution, free to deny employment to any person wearing a tattoo if they so choose.

Finally, I understand that to be young is often to be dumb and possess a herd-like mentality; I was both dumb and herd-like in my younger years concerning bell bottoms and longer hair. I’m just glad I could easily alter my appearance with a change of clothes and a haircut. I feel sorry for the folks with it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time tattoos who, ten years hence, will not be able to change their look. (Yeah, I know about laser removal of tats, but that’s an expensive and, from what I’ve seen, less-than-perfect solution.)

I can magnanimously give a pass to those under 30 who permanently mark themselves and chalk it up to the indiscretions of youth and the aforementioned herd mentality. But what completely poleaxes me are the people who are in their 40s and 50s I see sporting fresh tats. Huh? If I could make one statement to them, it would be this: “Look, you are NOT young anymore. Get over it. You look ridiculous. Do you raid your daughter’s/son’s wardrobe too? Since you seem to think you’re so young, let’s add an additional three years to the age you can begin collecting retirement. How do you like that?” (As you can see, it’s a good thing I’m not invested with absolute power.)

Oh well, this tat thing too shall pass. Upcoming generations are likely to look at today’s tatters as hopelessly out of touch and hideous, especially after a few decades have taken their toll on skin and ink.

Take care.

P.S. Did you notice the misspellings in the photo above?


Anonymous said...

Yeah: women have two hairy places. THE UNDERARMS AND THEIR HEADS.

The Other Mike S. said...

I saw a man and a woman couple at the store this past weekend. Mid-50s I'd say. Both were wearing shirts with the arms cut off, and both had the barbed-wire around the bicep tats.

Not a real good look once the turkey-neck starts forming on the back of the arm.

His man-boobs weren't real attractive either...