Clancy and I went to Oasis on the Hills, the local water park over the weekend. We had an absolute blast. We also got distinct reminders of how out of touch we are with the population as a while.

The big one was tattoos. When looking at 18-30 year olds, people without tattoos were almost the exception! Ever since my straight-arrow brother Mitch got a tattoo I’ve stopped thinking of them as rebellious. Besides, if someone wants a little private emblem of self on them, who am I to say anything?

But it wasn’t just an emblem or a design. It was entire arms and huge intricate drawings. I knew these things existed, but I really hadn’t realized that they’d become as common as… I don’t know, something real common.

That tattoos are but one example of something that bothers me for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s some variation of this, though: our bodies are not Christmas trees to decorate. The tattoos and the piercings and the boobs hanging out… good golly what has this world come to?!

Theoretically, as something becomes more commonplace we become more accepting of it. It used to be that long hair on a man was a sign of deviancy, now it’s a common thing. Ear rings in the right year used to signal homosexuality, now they’re common. Skinheads in long sleeve shirts are indistinguishable from a lot of young high-schoolers these days.

It really doesn’t work that way for me, though. I still haven’t come to terms with fingernail polish and honestly find a nose-ring less distracting. In fact, things that didn’t bother me before are starting to bother me a lot more now. I never really cared one way or another about tattoos, but as they become more common I’m becoming less rather than more agreeable to them. They’ve moved from signaling actual individuality to being another ornament on the Human Tree. And to get back to individuality they go further and further and get more and more tattoos and pierce more and more body parts.

What’s wrong with human ears just being ears rather than shiny silver repositories? Why make our bodies the (permanent!) landscape for someone else’s usually unoriginal art?

I guess I’m fortunate in that I married someone that doesn’t even wear make-up. While I wouldn’t mind if she wore make-up, the fact that that aspect of her personality keeps the nail polish, piercings, and whatnot is a godsend. I can understand make-up that accentuates the positive and I can understand trying to make yourself look as good as you possibly can, but why make yourself look like something that is less human, not to mention less attractive?

I recognize that this is an aesthetic preference. I’m actually a big sympathetic to less attractive people that figure if you can’t be better looking be different looking, but honestly I think it does more harm than good. Unattractive people look less attractive with tattoos and piercings. They’re hurt by it (in my eyes) in ways that more attractive people aren’t. For the guys the tattoos on their arm just drew attention to the flub on their arms. For chubby ladies the navel rings drew attention to their bellies. For the attractive people, it didn’t really make a difference except insofar as I didn’t like them. If a guy was toned it didn’t matter so much whether there were markings. If a girl was hot who the heck is looking at the ten earrings in her ears or the over-sized rose on her ankle? Or, if they see it, why do they care?

Tomorrow I will write about another observation at the Oasis.

Category: Downtown

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8 Responses to The Human Trees at the Oasis

  1. Peter says:

    Tattoos have lost much of their meaning through overuse. While people of course have many different motives in getting tattoos, one fairly common theme is an expression of one’s individuality. The problem is that tattoos have become way too common to serve as an expression of originality, and are much more like an expression of sheep-like conformity.

  2. trumwill says:

    On one hand I agree. On the other, even if they are commonplace they are still an emblem of individuality as there are hundreds of thousands of designs you can choose from. You can have the Virgin Mary crying or the grim reaper (two examples from the Oasis). It seems to me, though, that there are better ways to express one’s individuality than that. Even when they were uncommon they were a lousy way to express it, in my opinion.

  3. Spungen says:

    That tattoos are but one example of something that bothers me for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on.

    My finger is pointing to my birthdate. 😉 Maybe we’re just old. Or old-fashioned. Every now and then my husband trots out the idea. “I should get a tattoo … I’m not sure what I’d get though …” I should be less easily riled up. “I don’t want to come home to that!” It’s not quite as bad as a mustache to me, but almost.

  4. Barry says:

    I totally agree with you, and have noticed that the non-tattooed are almost rarer than tattooed, especially in people younger than, say, 30.

    There’s a story going around about a girl who colored her hair green and was suspended from her high school. She claimed she was “just trying to express her originality”. It’s the same claim kids have been making with ducktails, poodle skirts, nehru or black leather jackets, peace signs, no bras, headbands, bell-bottoms, low-hung boxers, mohawks, etc etc etc for decades. But it’s all pretty much a sham because soon everyone is “expressing their originality” the same way.

    This is why I’m such a huge proponent of school uniforms, because it forces kids to learn that originality should come from their personalities and talents, not their clothing or other decoration. I can recognize all the kids different indidual selves better when they’re wearing basically the same clothing…

  5. trumwill says:

    I’m actually a fan of green hair and blue hair and purple hair. Unfortunately, it’s usually accompanied by tattoos and piercings and other things I don’t like. I always thought it would be cool to color my own hair but then comb it in the very conventional way that I do since most people that have odd color hair make it (and themselves) look strange. It was sort of like when my best friend and I went to an Insane Clown Posse show wearing a dress shirt and tie.

    I think I agree about school uniforms and the like. One of the things we talked about was how schools handle the tattoo issue. They weren’t an issue when I was growing up, but they’re so much more common now. You can take jewelry off, for someone to change clothes, and to groom their hair… but you can’t have them remove a tattoo from 7-3 every day. You can ask that they cover them up, but not all of them are in places that can be realistically covered unless you’re going to force them to wear gloves all day long.

    Reminds of me some Ben Folds lyrics:
    I know that’s hard to believe
    But there are people you meet
    They’re into something that is too big to be

    Expressed through their clothes
    And they’ll put up with all the poses you’ll throw
    And you won’t even know
    that they’re not sizing you up
    They know your mom [mess]ed you up
    Or maybe let you watch too much TV

    But they’ll still look in your eyes
    To find the human inside
    You know there’s always something in there to see

  6. trumwill says:


    I think I recall you saying that your husband bears a passing resemblence to Bruce Campbell. In any event whenever you mention him that’s what I imagine him looking like. I saw an episode of Homicide not too long ago that had Campbell in a moustache and thought he looked surprisingly good in it. But he was playing a cop and cops get away with it when other people don’t.

  7. Barry says:

    I’m sortof taking the antithesis of an argument I had with Logtar yesterday – he was decrying “Talk Like a Pirate Day” and wanting to enact “Talk Like a Ninja Day”. Cause he liked ninjas and didn’t like pirates. Whatever.

    Anyway, I told him I didn’t like ninjas because they were all alike – cold, anonymous, totally non-individuals. They all dressed the same, looked the same – sure maybe they have cool moves and can kill you by throwing metal stars from their hips, but still.

    But pirates…they were all individuals. With lust for life and a yo ho ho and all that. But what makes a good pirate? Sure they dress outlandishly, but it’s not the costume that makes a pirate – anyone can dress up in a pirate hat and wear a patch and a pegleg and a sash and a cutlass and a pegleg and have a parrot squawking in your ear. But you have to have the personality to really pull it off.

    I think I may be arguing both sides of the argument there, I’m not sure…

  8. trumwill says:

    I think I’m with Logtar on this one. Pirates are loud and obnoxious, Ninjas walk the walk.

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