One day when I was driving through Colosse, I saw a sign that said “Tattoos & Piercing”. My most immediate thought was that was a rather odd name for a lawfirm. Piercing I could see, but who in the world had the last name of Tattoos. What nationality would that be? How is it pronounced? Of course, once I figured out how it was pronounced I felt like the dumbest person on the face of the earth.

When I was in college I nearly made the fatal mistake of changing my universal password to reflect the name of the new love of my life, Evangeline. Considering that things fell apart (albeit not for good) a couple weeks later, it was fortunate that I didn’t put myself in the position of remembering that heartbreaker every time I needed to access anything. I think about that every time I see a tattoo with a partner’s name on it.

My brother Mitch is more-or-less the All-American guy. Blond hair and blue eyes, solidly built, degreed, and outgoing. Among the Truman boys he is the only one that continues to go to church week in and week out. He’s also the only Truman boy that has a tattoo (a lightning bolt on his shoulder).

When I was in Deseret I knew this girl named Judy. Judy was one of the most prudish, scoldish people I never met. She had a really Betty Bowers quality to her except with a Mormon twist. Nothing got her going on the morally decadent nature of Democrats, non-Mormons, not-exactly-like-her-Mormons, people that engage in non-procreative forms of sex, and on and on and on. On the subject of rape, she pricelessly exasperatedly said, “Don’t they know that you don’t have sex with people you aren’t married to?” (presumably she gave the raped woman a pass, though it was interesting that she felt that non-marital sex was his primary moral error).

But despite all this Judy the Prudie was not the most conservative dresser. Enough so that we could see the small of her back and see a tattoo that she had there. The day I saw that was the day that I determined that the butt-cleavage tattoos had lost any of the edginess they may once had possessed. If Judy was wearing them, they were by definition non-edgy.

A little while back the New York Times had an article on the newly tentative nature of tattoos:

Removing tattoos is costly, uncomfortable and time-consuming, but the
affinity for body art is so strong that some people say they do it to
clear space to tattoo all over again. {…}

On the horizon is a development that could change the very nature of
tattooing: a type of ink encapsulated in beads and designed to break
up after one treatment with a special laser.

The technology for the ink, called Freedom-2, was developed by
scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital, and Brown and Duke
Universities. It is to go on sale this fall.

Part of the very notion of a tattoo, in my mind, has always been the permanency. It’s actually hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of an impermanent tattoo. Maybe it’s because it’s the permanency that made me decide never to get one. I am always at my worst when making life-altering decisions. I left Julie only once I was contemplating an irreversible lifetime commitment to her. Clancy and I survived that leap, for which I am grateful, but only barely. I almost transferred out of Southern Tech a year and a half in and less than a year of going into computers I decided (too late) that I didn’t want to. There really was no doubt in my mind that if I chose to get a tattoo, I would regret the decision the next day.

But is a tattoo that is removable still even a tattoo? It used to be that the reason for a tattoo was a marker of rebellion, but Judy and my brother put the final nail in that coffin. Mark Morford and others lament that once tattoos are easily removed, it won’t be the same.

Then again, I suppose that once the technology is there for easy removal and application, there’s nothing to stop it from becoming a long-term accessory. I remember I was at an outdoor music show many years ago and saw a woman with the old logo of Colosse’s professional football team. “Why would she get that?” I asked a friend, “didn’t she know that there was a pretty good chance that the logo would change in her lifetime?” Easy removal, I guess, allows for such frivolity without the consequences of becoming outdated.

The tattoo industry is excited about it for just that reason:

“We think the fence-sitters who always wanted a tattoo but have been afraid of the permanence will jump in and get tattoos,” said Martin Schmieg, the chief executive of Freedom-2. “But as your life changes from young to middle-aged to older, from single to married to divorced, you get tattoo regret, so we think the tattoo removal market
will increase as well.”

Be that as it may, I don’t think I will be among those getting a tattoo. The most immediate obstacle is that I would like my arms to be a little more toned before I do something like that. There’s nothing that makes a little chub more unattractive than tattoo decoration. Then again, if I ever get a toned arm, why in the world would I want to besmirch it?

The permanency of a tattoo is both one of the most appealing and least appealing aspects of a tattoo for me. I’m a pretty wishy-washy guy


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One Response to Check Out The Tats (While They’re There)

  1. Peter says:

    My guess is that many of the women who got tramp stamps during the height of their popularity (c. 2002 – 2005) are starting to regret their decisions. Tramp stamps seem to be falling out of fashion, quite rapidly for that matter, and in a few more years probably will be hopelessly passe. Women who’ve gotten them are in effect wearing yesterday’s fashion, permanently

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