Wednesday, June 11, 2003

has started a new web page called The SkinTrade Daily. It is devoted to info and products and general stuff involving tattoos, piercings, and other such body adornment (I'm not sure if adornment is the right word: it was not my first choice, as you might guess if you read on). So, if you are into that sort of thing, give it a look.

I am not into that sort of thing. I have never seen a bit of skin (mine or anyone else's) and thought "you know what would make that look good? Some ink. And maybe some stainless steel." It has never happened, although I suppose it might someday. Anywho, Chris has solicited thoughts on what sort of thing should appear on his new page, and I have one (even though I'm not his target audience at all). Here is my thought:

I would like to see (and it may be out there somewhere already, but I haven't looked for it) a bit of counselling for those who may be considering getting tattoos (and, to a lesser extent, piercings). I have three anecdotes which may 'splain why I think this is needed.

-- When I was a (long-haired, bearded) undergraduate I signed up for the Intro to Military Science course at my university. I took the course for 1) two easy credit hours, 2) the promise of free climbing/repelling lessons, 3) the promise of a free helicopter ride, 4) my general interest in knowing stuff that doesn't relate to math. The other students in the class seemed to be either gung ho types who just wanted to get their war on or fratboys (who may have been attracted by the first three of my reasons). One day one of the fratboys was showing off his new tattoo before class (this was back in 1991, before the fad really took off) and eagerly showed it to our instructor, too. Our instructor was a crusty master sgt who was cruising towards retirement after a career which had involved special ops nastiness. He was muy macho and had a few tattoos of his own, so the fratboy was hoping to impress him (I think) with the new fraternity shield on his ankle. The instructor looked at it, cleared his throat, and said something to the effect of "there are very few things you can do when you are young which you will deeply regret years later. You've just done one of them. Ten or twenty years from now you are going to look at your ankle after a hard day's work and wonder what the hell you were thinking."

-- A very good friend of mine, whose name I will not mention so as not to incriminate him, asked me to ride along with him to a tattoo parlor in Gulfport, Miss. He wanted to get a tattoo to remind him of a woman with whom he was infatuated at the time. I went with him, and counselled against the tattoo all the way to the parlor to no avail. A few years later he expressed that he was very sorry to have gotten that tattoo and that he wished he had listened to me.

-- A relative of mine (with whom I am not at all close socially, although we do share most of our genes) has a tattoo that he got during a particularly ugly part of his life. It is inside his mouth. He regrets it.

My point is that people need to think long and hard before doing something like marking their bodies for life with what may be a passing fancy. People who are more experienced with tattoos would do the world a great service by making that point loudly and clearly.

I heard "I Dream too Much" (Sun Ra), "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" (Marvin Gaye), "I Love You" (Anita O'Day), "I Stay Away" (Alice in Chains).


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