Every day as I leave work, I drive past a tiny tattoo parlor, where a few guys wearing wife-beaters and covered in ink are usually hanging out on the sidewalk, waiting for customers. And every day I think the same thing: I don’t understand tattoos. I recognize the fact that tats are as old as history itself, but I just can’t see any real reason for them in 21st-Century America.
Right off the bat, tattoos are insanely expensive, even the little ones. And removing them? From what I’ve been told the most painful thing you’ll ever experience. And, oh yeah, insanely expensive. For anyone who wants to get a tat, because it would be super-cool, I advise watching MTV’s episode of True Life that chronicles 3 young people who want to remove their body ink forever. It’s a brutally-honest hour of TV. But before we talk about removing tats, let’s talk about the stupid reasons why people get them. First, there’s no need for someone to get a Celtic Irish cross, Italian flag, or Puerto Rican colors stamped on their body because their genetic makeup happens to carry these particular nationalities in it. If you’re so proud of being part Irish, rather than maim your body why don’t you just visit the land of your quasi-origin? Guess what? You’ll come back happy that you’re American. What about the tat to remember a loved one lost? For anyone who has lost a loved one, I am deeply sorry for you, no doubt. But do you really need a bald eagle flying over a sunset painted down the middle of your back, and in small font the lifespan and name of said person? In what way is that an homage to that passed-away person? Why does your memorial need to be up in everyone’s face like that? Where’s the respect and discretion? And yeah, yeah, I know: people mourn in a million different ways. Spare me. I am not insulting it. I just don’t get it. The stupidest tattoo story I ever heard though had to do with a wedding party and matching tats. This joker, the groom, pressured everybody in his wedding party to get matching tats in order to always remember the BIG DAY. The truth: Nobody cares about your ridiculous wedding except you. Maim my body, the only body I’ll ever have, to remember this nonsense? No thanks.
Tribal bands around the bicep? As cliché as it gets. The full sleeve? Yuck. The sun-tattoo around the belly button. What a mistake. Those yellow-and-red tats that every biker-guy seems to have that don’t look like anything at all? Do I even need to add an adjective to this? How about tats on chicks? Nah. A butterfly on the ankle looks awful, a gigantic tattoo across the small of the back, even worse. You know, the Tramp Stamp? Any girl who has a Tramp Stamp is really as ridiculous as it gets. Hearing about ink in oh-so-secret places isn’t a turn on. Doesn’t make you any prettier. Sorry. Playboy bunny tats? Dumb, dumb, dumb. If you are 18 and thinking of getting a tat, because it would be cool, or because you think a dragon on your right leg would be cool, because you possess the spirit of the dragon, I beg you, plead with you to reconsider. At least talk to someone who is older and has a tat. Bet they try to talk you out of it. If I kept half of what I thought was cool when I was 18, I would probably be rotting away in an asylum or riding with the circus. Tattoos, I promise, will be a lifetime reminder of some stupid moment in your past that you can’t erase.
In society tats are seen as distasteful. Try getting a corporate job with a ten-inch tat of the Road Runner on your right forearm or your name in old English on the back of your neck. Never happen unless you keep them hidden. Our society is one based on prejudice and first impressions. Sorry, it’s the truth, whether you want to admit it or not. So unless you want to be viewed as a thug or some common criminal, don’t cover your body with bright ink-designs. These tats could do more to shape your future than any college degree you might have. And I promise 9 out of 10 times that shaping will be towards the negative. Now, I know there are many role models covered in full-body tats. Great guys like Jesse James (that’s the guy who cheated on that idiot Sandra Bullock), Dennis Rodman, Mike Tyson, and Tom Arnold, to name a few. Great guys. Am I being sarcastic? I am. Am I stereotyping? Of course. That’s what Americans do.
So I say if you want to practice self-expression, get a wild haircut and some crazy clothes. If you insist on everyone knowing about every aspect of your personal life, dump the design for the cobra-snake tattoo across your shoulder blades and update your Facebook page more often. You get one body in this life. No need to ruin it with a Kurt Cobain face on your chest.