Tattoos intrigue me but I’m not planning on getting one any time soon, although I’ve often wondered how many tattoos are actually planned.
I can visualize myself waking up with a tattoo after a hard night out during which it seemed an eminently grand idea to get a tattoo, in fact, how could such a grand night not end by getting a tattoo.
Now, when I was a kid only men had tattoos and they were invariably ex-Navy men. Anchors, skulls, knives, slogans like “Victory or Death!” were common. Almost always in blue with a little red, these tattoos looked like they had been through the hot rinse cycle a few times too many. Most were faded and splodgy looking. Sometimes the tattoo looked like a bruise in the shape of a heart or whatever.
I don’t remember when I saw my first woman with a tattoo, outside of the circus, of course, but my eyes must have bugged out. Tattoos for women became popular in the 80’s and all the hot singers had a dainty ankle tattoo of a rose or a bear or for the more edgy singers, a strand of barbed wire. Cher was famous for her tattoos. These tattoos were small, discrete and easily hidden by hiking boots and thick socks.
Time marches on, though, and so have women’s tattoos. Today it’s not uncommon to see elaborate filigrees on a lower back, or Chinese letters on the back of a neck.
But, nothing prepared me for what I saw today at the grocery store. The grocery store! Not some heavy metal rock concert with people waving their iPhones in the air. No, a grocery store where one goes to be with the vegetables and contemplate less filling with tastes great.
A young mother with her two young kids in tow was checking out a few lines down from me and from that distance I could tell she was wearing a sleeveless denim vest. But, it was her arms that caught my attention. They were COVERED with tattoos from shoulder to wrist. Tattoo upon tattoo upon tattoo to the extent you couldn’t tell where one ended and the next one started. Her arms were a mass of red and blue and green, and from the distance I couldn’t tell if it was skulls, hearts, knives, snakes or whatever.
All I knew instinctively was “Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!”
I was shocked, I say, shocked! I mean, how could you walk around in public like that? Call me fuddy-duddy, but it took me quite a while to get over the heart-on-the-ankle, but this ... this!
It was like a horror show in real life. I couldn’t take my eyes away. As I pushed my cart to the door past where this unfortunate woman was standing I could only think
As I drew closer I prepared to scuttle past her and try not to look, even though it was like a human train wreck, terrible and fascinating at the same time.
At which point I made a startling discovery. She didn’t have any tattoos at all! No, shock upon shock, she was wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt that was printed with a denim vest along the body, and tattoo images down the flesh-colored sleeves.
I stopped to have a good old stare.
It was a shirt, not tattoos. The whole thing was an optical illusion, a fake, a deception.
As my mind shifted gears, my first thought was, “How cool is this! That is such a cool shirt!” None of the pain and all of the gain.
I gotta get me one of those. Santa! Tattoo shirt, please and make it an XL!