Last Sunday, people-watching at a park with the family, I remarked to my wife how some people like to get tattoos on their necks or arms. You just can't miss a neck tattoo. It conveys a certain je ne sais quoi. Actually, in California, it conveys that you belong to a gang.
"Why would you get a tattoo?" I asked.
"Well, my sister has a giant eagle tattooed on her back," she said.
I didn't know that. My sister-in-law is a bit of a daredevil, and as she nears 40 with two kids, still enjoys the flying trapeze.
"Yes, she did it in her 20s."
And here I must admit that I did, briefly, in my 20s, consider getting a tattoo. It was during my summer in the Canadian military reserves, at Camp Gagetown, New Brunswick. A bunch of mates and I were off-duty at the Canadian equivalent of the Px, as it was too early to start drinking. One guy pointed out a tattoo parlor. "Hey, let's all get tattoos," he said. There was a folder with art samples you could ask to have permanently inked into your skin. I examined the catalog. It seemed to consist exclusively of logos of heavy-metal bands. Jazz being more my thing, I excused myself to get an icecream cone, while my mate rolled up his sleeve, indicating his preference to display an image of Mötley Crüe's "Dr Feelgood" on his bicep until the day he died.
I wonder whether he still feels good about that decision.
That summer was remarkable for me. My eczema completely cleared up. I suspect it was because, being a trooper, I was ordered around the whole time and never had to make a decision for myself. (I kid you not--on the first day, we spent hours learning how to take one step forward.) No decisions, no stress. The warrant officer could singe my ears blue with profanities, informing me that the way I was shouldering my rifle was far from ideal. It didn't matter. I just marched where I was told.
But even then, with perfect skin, I knew that getting a tattoo would be a bad idea. I think I've had eczema on every square inch of my skin since then. Every square inch. What does eczema do to a tattoo? If you scratch, does the ink get torn up and the picture blotched? I'd think so.
Have you gotten a tattoo?