Monday, January 25, 2010

Sorry, Roger. You Tiger Now ...

One of the things you learn if you live long enough is that we swim in the Sea of Impermanence. Something that seems to be the most important thing in your life when you are twenty might have little relevance to who you are at forty. Things change, worlds move.

So at twenty, you join a dojo and become a dedicated student of Kick-Ass Fu. After a couple of years, you are one of the fair-haired boys, up and coming, and you can see your path for the rest of your life as a student and teacher of your art, so you hie yourself on down to the ink shop and get the school's logo put on your shoulder -- lightning bolts and the blades and all, and you are one of the Chosen and golden.

A year later, you get into a pissing match with the head instructor and he tosses you out of the school.

You hate his guts. And every time you look in the mirror, you see the artwork he created reflected back at you.

You find another school in a different system, and there, you meet Louise, a good woman and you are really into her. It's true love. You get married, and you are going to live happily ever after, and so you get her name inside a big heart tattooed on the other shoulder.

Six months after the happy nuptials, Louise runs off with your best friend, and last you heard, she's living in Miami working in a strip club.

So there you are, with two permanent symbols of things that were temporary, carrying around reminders you might not want to think about every time you take off your shirt ...

If I have a picture I like hanging on my wall, it might stay there for years and years, but if I decide I don't like it any more, or find one I like better, I can take down the one and put up the other. And swap 'em back and forth as necessary.

I have nothing against the idea of tattoos. My daughter has a bunch of 'em, my son-in-law more than she does, and he's now studying to become a tattoo artist.

There are folks like the Maori where tats are part of the culture. You might be yakuza and have to dress the part. A sailor, Marine, biker ...

And there are some things that you might want to keep forever. If you were in the military and you loved it, you might want that reminder. Maybe your son's name. Something about which you are certain.

My silat teacher, after he was fifty and into his art for more than thirty years, got the art's logo tattooed on his forearm. At this point, he's not likely to leave it behind.

So, there are plenty of reasons to get a tattoo, some of them going to art. But look at the picture of the cat man in the previous posting. Whatever else happens to him, that face is never going back to what it was before. This isn't something that he can change his mind about. When you choose to alter your appearance so that what you are going to hear for the rest of your life is, "Jeez, look at that! Oh, man!" along with the how-pitiful-is-that head shake? That's a big choice. Might come a time when that In-your-face! 'tude isn't what you want the world to see.

Couple years ago, Comcast had a TV commercial that pretty much laid this notion out: (If you can't see the video, here's the link.)

Something to think about.


Christopher Wayne said...

I have three tattoos. At a minimum I spent six months thinking about it before the needle touched the skin. I have been in shops that people walk in off the street, look at the stuff on the wall and pick something.

Some people just don't think.

Jay said...

I am still free of ink - I have my idea and I still like it, I just haven't gotten around to it. To each their own, but I do question some of the more radical ones out there. The guy who had glasses frames put on for example. Me: I don't get it. Them: their choice.

Dan Moran said...

I spent 20 years thinking about it before I got my first tattoo. Still at 1, five years later.

Justin said...

You know how a lot of women have "skinny clothes" -- as in clothes they'll wear when they reach their target weight?

I have a "buff tattoo" -- something I plan to get if/when I reach my target size. I'm not holding my breath (or sucking in my gut) over it.

Dave said...

I grew up with old school bikers (my father and his crew), and they all had different ideas about tattoos. The best one I remember is: Make a picture (draw or photoshop now days)and hang it on your mirror or dresser. If after a year of waking up and looking at that every day and it is still cool, you might want to consider it.

Five years I spent drawing/refining my back piece, another two I spent looking at it everyday.

It hurt like hell, but I am still sure about it.

Never understood walk in type people.

Irene said...

I knew what I wanted for ten years before I actually got it done. Been immensely happy with it ever since.

EvMick said...

What ever people want. It's their body.

But I keep thinking how tattoos look different on OLD saggy skin as opposed to young, tight and firm.

Brad said...

I've got a dozen or so tats. No names, no logos. But each one has a meaning too me. Some nostalgic, some spiritual and some practical. All except the first 3 were actually drawn or designed by me. And they are in places that if I don't want to flaunt them, you don't see them.

My oldest daughter has already surpassed me. Full back piece and several others adorning her body. Same tatooist (friend of mine). Matter of fact, he can now claim to have put the needle to me, my ex-wife and our daughters.

My current wife being of a proper Muslim upringing (but nowhere near a proper Muslim) has never had and says she never will have a tat. Our daughter, she says, never will either.

It's a personal choice for sure. I remember the old saying "Why do you have one?" "If you had one, you wouldn't need to ask and if you don't, you'll never understand".

jks9199 said...

I'm contemplating one. Work related, kind of comparable to a Marine getting a USMC tat.

We'll see. The unit's been talking about it for about 4 or 5 months now. I'm not overly confident they'll have a design in the next 4 or 5...

But, overall, it's an individual choice. Just not one I'd suggest making lightly or without a lot of thought... (Of course, I seem to have acquired a few scars over time, usually rapidly and without much thought!)

Anonymous said...

I was a SERE guy.

I LOVE unit tats!

"What do you mean 'not a commando'? Let's look at that art again..."

Michael said...

I decided not to get a tattoo when I saw that the receptionist at my dentist's was covered in blackwork. Just didn't seem all that edgy any more ...

And I still wonder occasionally about Brother Skins, a stoner I knew 'way back when whose brain was so raddled by various substances that he actually thought it was clever to have a third eye tattooed on his forehead.