Tattoos

Always, in the back recesses of my mind, I’m contemplating another tattoo.  (Dad, go help Mom off the floor, k?)  I find them to be such beautiful forms of art and self expression.  They’re also a wee bit addictive.

I like to think I’m going to age gracefully and embrace my wrinkles.  (I also like to think I’m going to live long enough to get good and pruney!)  I think laugh lines are just about the most beautiful trait a face can possess.  When you’ve seen a lifetime of sights and thought a lifetime of thoughts, there should be some sort of physical manifestation.

As my friend Darrel says about aging, “It’s natural to wear the miles we’ve traveled as scars and badges.”  As he points out, scars are almost as beautiful as wrinkles.  I love listening to friends recount the epic tales and funny stories surrounding the marks on their shoulders or knees.  Granted, with my crowd the sessions always include at least one person (or seven) pointing to a burn (or seven) on their hand or forearm and stating, “…and this was a lesson (or seven) in not cooking while drunk.”

In my weird little left of center brain, I think of tattoos the same way.  They, too, document our journeys and triumphs, our loves lost, our heartbreaks.  Wrinkles and scars happen TO us, regardless of whatever precautions we might take – be it Botox or chain mail.  They’re subtle reminders, continually amassing, that remind us time and the world rumble on with or without us.  A tattoo freezes time, if only for an instant by consciously driving a stake in the ground, recording that moment indelibly.

Some argue the body is a temple and shouldn’t be defiled.  My clear, concise and educated response?  PBLTTTT!  Is a fresco a defilement of a church wall?  I can think of plenty of celebrated temples adorned with the works of artists (Sistine Chapel, anyone?)  I say tattoos can be just as artistic and meaningful as The Last Supper – in the right circumstances.

I’m pretty confident there’s another tattoo in my future – one to commemorate kickin’ cancer’s ass.  I just have to figure out what and where and…resolve myself to some quality time with needles.  I gotta tell ya, the sight of shiny metal and the smell of rubbing alcohol still send me into panic mode.  At this point, I think I’m going to wait until Aloysius breaks up with me.

I know not all tattoos are profound emotional or moral statements.  There are plenty of tattoos that scream disaster.  That’s true of all art forms, though.

A mess of us went out for dinner last night, and we started joking about the best and worst tattoos that we’d ever seen.  As usual, we had to tease our friend in town from NC.  He’s spent many years on tour and working seasonal theater gigs, so he’s always meeting new people.  One of his favorite games is to convince these people he’s got a tattoo on his inner thigh of a tiny gray squirrel reaching up towards…well…you get it.

Apparently on one of his travels, he struck up a conversation with a local woman also sitting at the bar.  She listened attentively, then offered a yarn of her own.

“I have a few tattoos myself.”

“Really?”

“Mmmhmmm.  On my inner right thigh, I’ve got a turkey.”

“Well that’s…unusual.”

“On my inner left thigh, I’ve got a Christmas tree.”

Our friend looked at her blankly and waited for her to continue.

Smiling widely she brought it full circle.  “There’s a lot to eat between the holidays.”


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