The Great Skin Debate

Aaah, tattoos… or as I prefer to call them, body graffiti.

I have two major points to make about this topic.

The first is that I think that the acceptance of tattoos is yet another sign of the coarsening of our society and its growing decadence. If we look at who’s sported tattoos on their bodies in the distant past, it’s been primitive tribes attempting to make their warriors look more fearsome (e.g. Maoris, Amazon tribes), or else the womenfolk of the tribes trying to make themselves look unappealing to men once they were married / paired off permanently, or else all members of a tribe wearing the same markings as a symbol of identity, to distance them from members of other tribes. Regardless of why, however, the common aspect of all was that these were the actions of primitive peoples. So now it appears that because tattoos have become somehow “cool” or tokens of individuality, we as a society have to accept them. After all, nobody gets hurt, right? (I’m leaving out the tragedy of infection and so on, because that’s relatively rare nowadays.)

My other point is personal, so buckle yourself in, because this is going to be a bumpy ride. To start with a humorous take, here’s a little guide to tattoo placement:

I’ve never really understood tattoos as decoration. Maybe it’s because I was brought up to believe that only low-class types got tattoos: they, sailors and strange Asian people. However, it seems that nowadays just about everyone has them, except for every woman I’ve ever dated — it’s an immediate disqualifier for me: no matter how small, how discreet or how “tasteful”, ink on a woman’s skin = Kim moving in the general direction of away. I can understand why men get tattoos, because we’re idiots and do stupid shit all the time — not excusing, just understanding — but I see no reason why a woman should ever deface her body, for any reason whatsoever. (Yeah, I’m pedestalizing, to use that horrible modern term. Sue me.) Even stuff like this, while undoubtedly artistic and aesthetically pleasant to look at, occasions from me at best a disgusted curl of the lip when I see it in (or on) the flesh. On silk, it’s beautiful; on a woman’s skin, repulsive.

Then, of course, you get outcomes such as this one, which turns an already-trashy-looking girl into a vision of pure horror:

You just know she’s got a “tramp stamp” at the base of her spine. (My take on tramp stamps: regardless of the design or verbiage, what they’re all saying is: Insert Here.) Don’t even get me started on tattoos around the vulva… ugh.

I’ve also never understood why a beautiful woman would get a tattoo. (Ugly ones, sure: why not? You’re already ugly.) A good example would be Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden. Unquestionably, a lovely woman:

Inexplicably, she has two (!) tattoos. “Yeah, but they’re not visible, Kim!” Well, except (and one hopes, only) to her husband. Seems kinda pointless to me, especially for a woman who seems to have everything in her life under control. (But I’ll get to that later.) Then you get this neurotic bint, who says that older women getting a tattoo means that “they still have something to say”. Yes, and that something is: “Getting older doesn’t necessarily mean getting wiser.”

Of course, my ire is not just aimed at women. David Beckham, supremely-talented footballer and canny businessman, has turned his once-handsome body into some kind of freak show:

Jesus wept. (Literally: see bottom-left corner.) I know: footballers are generally low-class scum (also musicians, another massively-tattooed segment of the population), but even for scum, Beckham’s taken it A Picture Too Far (or several pictures too far). (For my Lady Readers, here’s Beckham, pre-body-decorations:)

Note, by the way, that he’s wearing a shirt to cover up some of his arm tattoos. That was the manufacturer’s marketing department, not wanting to alienate the average consumer.

When it comes to men, I sort of get the “bonding” rationale — “Semper Fi”, “U.S.S. Arizona”, “Rangers Lead The Way”, and even “Harley-Davidson” and so on. I also get the “commemorative” ones: “Bagram AFB 2015”, “Bastogne 1944” etc. I don’t agree with the rationale, but I get it. But as for examples like Beckham’s? Sorry, I got nothing. I just ascribe it to “Men Do Stupid Shit” and move along. (And please spare me the “bad boy” bullshit. Real bad boys don’t advertise; and women who get taken in by that deserve everything they get, e.g. hepatitis C.)

Here’s how I approach the whole issue. If I were going to get a tattoo, I say to myself, what would it be? What would I want to immortalize on my skin?

Right off, I can eliminate messages, sayings, or any verbiage whatsoever. I can think of no saying or statement that would qualify as worthy of being on my body, forever. “Mother”? Give me a break. If I’d ever got one of those idiotic things, my mom would have killed me. Yeah, you love your mother. Me too. Everybody else too. BFD. And as for those “affirmation” expressions: “Love Is All”, “Strength Through Willpower”, “Keep Believing” (in what? God? yourself? the Chicago Cubs? a Doobie Brothers reunion?”), and my All-Time Bullshit Message: “No Mercy”… really? You’re that much of a bad-ass that you have to advertise it? It’s “message” body art by Hallmark, except Hallmark would never create crap messages such as these. I also love the ones which feature Chinese or Japanese pictograms, and laugh like hell when the hapless recipient discovers that the tattooist has actually written “Idiot Gaijin” or “Won Ton Soup” instead of “Mighty Warrior”, as requested.

And then there’s the stupefying array of crucifixes. Yeah, I bet Jesus is SO proud of you. Why don’t you just wear a simple crucifix on a chain around your neck — it says the same thing, is less painful / expensive, and as a bonus, you don’t look trashy. If it comes to Christians like this, give me an Orthodox Jew any day. (Tattoos are forbidden under Talmudic Law as something like “defiling God’s creation”. No truer words were ever written.)

The problem is, when we think of images to be tattooed onto our skin, we fondly think they’re likely to look beautiful and artistic, like this:

…when the odds are better that they’ll instead come out like this:

You know, that last pic actually makes me feel nauseated. Imagine that woman serving you food at a restaurant… and yes, I have asked to be moved to another table featuring a non-sleeved waitress (Kirby Lane in Austin, TX).

And I note that tattoo reversal is becoming HUGE business in Japan, because companies are finding that employees with unmarked skin tend to be better at their jobs — less absenteeism, better attitude, more reliable — and are therefore refusing to hire people with visible tattoos. Just sayin’.

I remember doing one of those foul “speed-dating” things once, back when I was a single guy. My very first question to a prospective date was: “So… tell me the story behind your tattoos.” (There’s always a story / excuse.) Any response which wasn’t “I don’t have any tattoos!” meant she had no chance with me. More than half the women I spoke to were tattooed, sadly, so I didn’t bother with the speed-dating thing again. And for the record: I have never slept with a woman who has a tattoo. Won’t ever, either.

Here’s my final take. With only a few exceptions, I think decorative tattoos — especially comprehensive ones like full-body or sleeves — are indicative of some mild form of pyschosis. There is a peculiar strain of either narcissism or self-loathing involved, and (paradoxically) maybe both. Whatever it is, I’m not really interested in trying to understand it.

Yup. You call it “clever-ironic-witty”, I call it confirmation.

———————————————————————————

 Afterthought: I’ve probably pissed off a sizeable number of people with this post. I don’t care. If you are thus defaced, know that there’s a considerable proportion of the population who feels exactly the same way as I do — and as I always say, if you’re going to deliberately set yourself apart from polite society, don’t be surprised when you’re treated like a pariah. Or maybe that’s the point: “I’m a rebel!” Yeah, you and all the other people with tattoos. Repeat after me: “We’re all individuals!

Yeesh.

77 comments

  1. Being a (mostly) practical person, when I see serious amounts of ink on a person I think of the sheer expense, not only of getting the tat, but of maintaining it (so it doesn’t end up looking like the bald, er, I assume she’s female since I see what appear to be mammaries. Her tattoos could have paid for a couple decent new cars (or one real nice one), and had she maintained them she could have had just about any car she wanted.

    On the topic of tattoos on women, I’ve noticed a couple general groupings:

    1) Tramp-stamps, stars/flowers/butterflies on wrist or ankle: I’m expressing my individuality the same way as everyone else does!

    2) Sleeves/shoulders/back wings: PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!!

    3) Face/neck: Don’t stick it in the crazy.

    Back in my young/stupid/single/horny days I met a stripper who had a snake tattoo on her arm, tail on the back of her hand and head on the back of her shoulder, with her entire arm, all the way around, inked to look like the snake’s scales. It was an absolute work of art, and she was seriously hot (she worked at one of the nicer places in Manhattan), and very intelligent, but the crazy just seeped from her pores.

    As for me, as noted most of them come under the heading of “men doing stupid stuff”, nothing to see here until you get to the more extreme examples like facial tats. Although I’ll admit I DID once consider getting “Molon Labe” tattooed on my shoulder (where it would be covered at work by a shirt sleeve) during my young/stupid era until I found out how much the damn things COST (see my first paragraph).

  2. I’ve noticed that tattoos tend to be part of a larger ensemble: tattoos, facial piercings, pawnshop jewelry, cigarettes, and “recreational” drugs. All good for signaling membership in that vast tribe of Life’s Losers, but none of which are recommended as productive assets or components of a responsible investment portfolio. All leading to a sad conclusion of dying broke and ugly, and–with luck–one’s eulogy printed on a few dozen funerary t-shirts.

  3. A tattoo, regardless of content or “artistry” anyplace on a woman’s body is a Tramp Stamp.

    I do find, however, tattoos are somewhat useful; they save me huge amounts of time in personal and business dealings regardless of the gender involved. As Mark D said “….but the crazy just seeped from her pores.” Sometimes it seeps, sometimes it gushes, but I’ve never not seen it.

  4. I have two tats. Got them waaay back in 1990 when not many people had them. Located on easily concealable locations because they are meaningful to me and really not for anyone else. Now, that so many people have them and they have been basically devalued in their meaning by their adoption of the Douche Nation and the trivialization of the language of tattoos, I am so glad mine are easily concealed.

  5. I have no tattoos, and never will. However, I find them extremely useful. When I see someone with visible tattoos, they provide a wealth of information about that person, all negative. That is quite useful.

  6. I have plenty of scars, hence, no need for tattoos.

    Were I to obtain a tattoo, it would have to say: Best Used by Apr. 1998

    That’s right. Truth in Advertising Laws would demand that by way of disclosure. And I’m long past my Sell-By date.

    But that tatt would make me young n’ hot n’ studly again, right? Right?…..rig……Oh hell, nevermind. *kicks dirt with toe, shuffles off, muttering to self……*

    Jim
    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

  7. When I was a little tyke, I asked my Dad about his tattoos. (Philippines-pre WW2) He told me they were “monkey bites”. Now, I assume they were socially embarrassing and he had them covered up when he returned to the States. None for me. I’ve never done anything to warrant such decoration.

  8. Wow, this is a level of contempt I save for feminists!

    But then, I must be crazy, because I have two tattoos (both designed by me). Am I still invited to shoot with you sometime?

  9. I agree with you Kim. When I was in the Army I thought that I would get a tattoo when I was drunk. Good for me I never near a tattoo shop when drunk. I am married. If I was single I would not date a woman with tattoos either covered or not.

  10. I met a fellow once who had long-term, severe health issues. Bad heart, bad liver, bad just about everything. Any situation that would get him into the hospital would certainly result in him being hauled out in a box, after a bunch of incredibly expensive treatment.

    After a lot of thought, he had “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” tattooed on his chest, along with the names and phone numbers of his doctor and his lawyer. In large letters.

    He said he figured that the couple of hundred bucks would save his estate a cool half-million in the long run.

    I also knew an extreme sports guy who had his blood type tattooed just above his inside elbow, since the question came up on a reasonably regular basis. Yeah, he was completely insane.

      1. Around mid 1945 a lot of them really wished they had something like laser tattoo removal.

    1. My sister, who has been a nurse for over 40 years, said that a fair number of nurses, EMTs and other hospital workers she knows have Do Not Resuscitate tattoos on their chests. We’re Jewish and she won’t get a tattoo, but she says she’s thought about it.

  11. Usually, your social commentary is just a bit too aristocratic, or “posh,” for my taste.

    Not this time. I agree completely.

    In my experience, a lot of these women have issues such as Depression, Bi-Polar, or just massive self-loathing and daddy issues.

  12. Interesting stuff above. I saw few idiots get Tattoos the first time they went to town in basic training in 1966, our First Sergeant and excellent NCO named McCord who was in WWII, Korea and Viet Nam called a huge Armenian kid with giant shoulders and arms up on the PT platform, had him roll his sleeve up to show us the wrist to elbow black panther that was oozing blood. He told the kid to tell us how proud he would be to explain the black blob on his arm to his kids and grandkids as the years go by and then he told the rest of us to think long and hard before we permanently messed ourselves up with ink. He made his point rather well.

    As for me, wife and kids we don’t have any ink. When my kids were college age and mentioned they were old enough for tattoos I acknowledged they could do what they wanted but I asked for a promise that if they were going to get a tattoo they first write down exactly what they want and second wait thirty days before they got a tattoo and third be totally sober and somehow that worked because none have ink and the youngest is 39 now thanked me the other day for that advice since she sees so many women in warm weather with tattoos showing and they do look trashy.

  13. A-bloody-men, Kim!

    This is a pet peeve of mine. There are very few ways for a woman to display lower class taste and pathologies than a tattoo…and that goes triple for one visible in street clothes.

    On the other hand, NOT getting tatted up is a way for a young woman to stand out from the competition. And it requires neither sweat, spending, nor starvation. Can’t beat that deal.

  14. I was scared away from tattoos as a kid. In a B-grade gangster flick, a guy was on death row due to his being identified as a murderer–because of his tattoo. It turned out that the real murderer had the same tattoo.

    It was later on in life that I thought of the general trashiness of most tattoos.

  15. I don’t really care what anyone does with their body, but as with cars, clothing, watches, or any like “accessory”– what you use to portray yourself, y’know, tends to do that. I’ve seen many tasteful tattoos that I would consider art, and if I did ever consider one myself, I’d get one from the folk who are said fine-line hyper-realistic black-ink-only artists. However, as I have to interact professionally with people and don’t always want to wear a suit to do it, I’m not waiting in line.

    I’ve also seen some of the most atrocious tattoos in the history of the world, and I have to imagine most people regret them.

    On women, same deal. I’ve seen some I really liked, that they obviously paid a crapton of money for, and had the wherewithal to go with something interesting, classy, and relatively discreet. Most of them I’ve seen in that regard, though, are fairly terrible. Not enough to put me off an otherwise good-looking, interesting girl, but I do file away the fact that they occasionally make questionable decisions, and hence have likely made a bunch more, and will continue to do so.

  16. I’m somewhat conflicted; on the whole, I prefer un-inked women, but I have a female friend with a “ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ” tattoo. Luckily for me, she’s involved with someone else.

    Twenty-two years of Naval Service and I’m un-inked myself, mostly because I could never make up my mind about what/where.

  17. Several loosely connected thoughts;

    1) I am un-inked, largely because I have bad skin. Getting an artistic tattoo (and I don’t see a lot of point in any other kind) would be like asking Monet to paint on rotting canvas.

    2) If I had a large burn scar, I might get a tattoo on it. Might.

    3) The origins of the Japanese anti-ink feeling is simple; until quite recently, only Yakuza (and wannabes) got tattoos. That has been breaking down, but a Japanese with a tattoo isn’t likely to make a good salaryman/bevel-gear.

    4) I had a tattooist acquaintance for a while. He told me that an awful lot of his time was spent talking little idiots OUT of getting tattoos that would send messages they didn’t want to back up. i.e. “No, sweetheart, you don’t want a teardrop next to your eye. Unless you HAVE killed for the Russian Mafia.” and “No, darling, you don’t want a crown with a line under it. That means ‘Property of the Latin Kings’, and you don’t want to be.”

    5) I have long held the suspicion that the majority of Chinese or Japanese ideographic tattoos actually mean something like “clueless roundeyes”

  18. Kim, I agree with you 100%.

    Those little “princess” tattoo’s you describe – the butterflies or little birdies on an ankle – are somewhat benign, but still…

    In my opinion, your last paragraph describes it best: “Look at me. I’m a rebel!”. Or at least that’s the way it was. Nowadays there are so many tatted up young people out there the today’s rebel is the one that has the clear skin.

  19. “…tattoo reversal is becoming HUGE business in Japan.”
    And it will in America too, as the enstupidated millennials age and that “work of art” becomes all too often mistaken for a painful bruise.
    The sad thing is that by that time, “helping” professions will have found a way to have unwanted tattoos defined as Ink Art Syndrome or some such bilge. Then the plastic surgeon lobby, the dermatologist lobby and various other usual suspects will lobby to get it covered by Medicare and Uhbamacare (which won’t ever go away as long as Mitch McConnell lives), and we taxpayers will continue to pay for the stupid and lazy among us.

  20. When I met my current wife (2nd marriage for both of us), she always wore a watch or bracelet on her left wrist. After several dates, she admitted to me that she did that to cover a very small tattoo. When she was young and stupid (her words) she and a group of her friends, who played cards together, each got a small heart tattoo on their wrists. I’ve never liked tattoos, but I couldn’t hold it against her, especially since she seemed so embarrassed about it. Also, it was smaller than my little fingernail.

    Later, when we could afford it, she had it removed, because she really doesn’t like wearing wristwatches.

    So, yes, I have dated a woman with a tattoo. Even married her. But I’m glad it’s gone now.

  21. The wife has a tattoo. I have none (I rarely keep art hanging in the same place for too long, why would I plant shitty art on my body?).

    It was almost a dealbreaker for me. The mitigating circumstances were:

    1) It was in the Cute Princess Zone ( a dragon on the ankle)
    2) It was a while ago
    3) It was deeply regretted.

    There is something to be said to have a visible reminder of humility and bad decisions staring at you every time you get out of the bath.

  22. I’ve thought about getting a tat. But if it’s under my Speedo,.. Why would anyone put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari?

  23. I’ve never considered getting a tattoo because I could never think of anything I’d want forever. Though the tattoos in Soldier (Kurt Russell movie) made sense. I enjoy looking at good ones on other people, though.

    One of my kids asked me once what I’d do if they got a tattoo. I said, “Mock you mercilessly. But you’re a free agent.”

    I ask people about the story behind their tattoos. My favorite: A lady had a tattoo of a cupcake on her shoulder. I asked her if she really liked cupcakes. “No. I had an appointment to get a tattoo, but I couldn’t think of anything to get. My friend said to get a cupcake. So, I did.” It was an ugly cupcake.

    1. I have a Viking rune, a snake with a dragon head, wrapped around my right wrist. The runes say “In memory of my father whose soul has risen.” He died 17 years ago today.

  24. Can I add those stupid belly button jewell thingys. Actually any kind of pierced stuff on people except ear rings on women and not all around their ears.

    1. Facial piercings repel me more than tattoos do. Especially bridge of the nose piercings and gauges in ears.

    2. Actually, OT, I don’t mind the belly-button danglies. I think they’re quite sexy, and belly-buttons are kinda ugly anyway.

    3. I agree with the Old Texan – why on Earth does anyone want a lump of metal stuck through the skin? Heck, I feel sorry for the lambs and calves when we stick a tag in their ear – why does a supposedly intelligent creature want it done to her/him?
      Also, I worked with a clerk who had quite a few studs in the top of her ear – I think each one signalled the beginning of a serious relationship.
      I tell my nieces and daughter that the purpose of a nipple ring is to tie the hot woman to the bed post. ( They rather dislike my thoughts on that)!
      And in this tolerant, post-modern World, I still steer clear from dealing with the people of metal and ink

  25. For a healthy dose of schadenfreude, there’s always the reality show “Tattoo Rescue”.
    This is where people with really stupid tattoos try to get them turned into something less stupid.
    Better to forgo the tatoo in the first place.

  26. Back in the days of ‘rum, sodomy and the lash” in both the US and British Navy, (and Army, presumably) crucifix and religious tattoos on the back were popular due to the belief that, when whipped, the fellow charged with carrying out the sentence would be disinclined to lay the lash across a crucifix, or would lay it lightly. Sailor’s belief/superstition, and unlikely to work in practice.

  27. I’m not as vehement, but still am not a fan.

    I DID however see one that I was perfectly cool with. A dude had his big toe amputated and had a little tattooed scrawl:

    Gone to market,
    Be back soon.

    Love, Pig.

  28. Several WW2 vets have told me that it was recommended they get a tattoo because dog tags could get lost and the tat would be one more way of identifying their body. Dad served as a medic in the 1st Infantry and had the medical corps insignia on his forearm. My niece worked as a river guide and had a very nice dolphin because dolphins are mammals who don’t drown. I’m contemplating a small Celtic cross and the phrase “Never Give Up” to mark my five year survival after prostate cancer. It will be high on my arm and probably the only people who will see it will be my wife and my doctor and me. The idea is probably a bit silly for a 65 year old guy who made it through 4 years as a Westpac sailor without a tattoo, but we all have to do something dumb at some point. Some of us wait longer than others.

  29. Mental and, or, spiritual derangement seems to be the only explanation for the acts of the people seen above….

  30. A coworker that is missing a hand (birth defect) had that wrist tattooed OEM. That made sense to me. For myself, the Navy sent me all over the world, but I still didn’t bother getting myself marked up. Working in the prison, I see a LOT of tats, makes me happy I didn’t get any.

  31. “And I note that tattoo reversal is becoming HUGE business in Japan, because companies are finding that employees with unmarked skin tend to be better at their jobs — less absenteeism, better attitude, more reliable — and are therefore refusing to hire people with visible tattoos. Just sayin’.”

    -The primary association the Japanese have with tattoos is organized crime. I reckon the removal trade may have more to do with people not wanting to be associated with Yakuza, but to be honest I have no idea. I saw exactly three tattoo shops that had a sign advertising themselves as tattoo shops the whole time I was in Japan. From what I saw, it was a pretty underground thing. You don’t see many tattooed people there at all compared to the US. Seems weird the laser removal thing would be booming considering that so few people seem to get tattooed there. Maybe a bunch of aging bososzoku dudes are trying to go straight, who knows?

    That said, the laser removal business is huge here in Southern California. I reckon it’s as big as it is here for the same reasons you list above.

  32. I guess I wouldn’t mind ink if I could think of something I was desperate to look at every day while it began to sag and fade. Since I have never thought of anything that fit the bill, my skin is only marked by scars, all of them earned. I do find it amusing that the German word for “Tramp stamp” is “Arschgeweih” which means “Ass antlers”.

  33. Kim, all I’m going to say is stay the hell out of Portland OR. I spent 2012-2014 on a contract up there and my gawd. At least half the people I saw walking around had ink on every visible surface. Bad ink.

    1. Thanks for this post Kim! I think tattoos and body piercing are sick. In case you didn’t know no piercing is allowed to Orthodox Jews, even ear piercing. I think that ear piercing was a sign of slavery. Don’t know if that is still observed today. Since I married a Non-Jew I’m not plugged in to Orthodoxy anymore. When I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, only enlisted sailors got tattoos. Since I didn’t and don’t know any sailors this might not be true.

  34. I have never seen a woman who’s attractiveness was enhanced by a tattoo. Since I’ve been married almost 30 years looking is the only pleasure I get outside the house.

    Don’t really care about tats on guys except as an evaluation or threat assessment tool.

    Fortunately CINCHOUSE’s act of rebellion was getting her ears pierced after we were married. Her dad always told here that he’d pay for ear piercing so long as she got fitted with a bone through her nose at the same time. These days that would not be a safe statement to make.

  35. I have five tattoos. I wish I hadn’t gotten at least three of them.

    I should point out that I got them all in my twenties, when I was less than mentally stable. Which means that I was in the Army, single, and had disposable income. Now that I’m a decade or two past that phase (no longer single and income is NEVER disposable), I can honestly say that anyone who gets a tattoo is NOT mentally healthy at the time, with the few exceptions where it’s a societal thing (Samoans and the like). If now me were to travel back twenty years and talk to then me, I’d tell myself “Not just no but fuck no with cheese.” My saving grace is that all of them can be covered up with a t-shirt, so I don’t walk around with ink showing every time I go buy groceries. Only one of them still look good, and that’ll change in another decade or so. By the time I’m dead, the guy at the mortuary is going to be trying to figure out what’s on my chest. “Is that a monkey fucking a football? What the heck?”

    Long story short – don’t get ’em. If you have young kids, tell THEM to not get them. They’ll regret them later. And if they whine “BUT MOM/DAD, WHAT WOULD YOU KNOW?” then you can point ’em to my direction, and I’ll clue them in.

  36. I’m an old biker who’s been visiting this site since it was “The Other Side of Kim”. I have several tats, all of which mean something to me. Granted, some of them are of questionable artistic talent. My wife of thirty years has more ink than I do and in my estimation it does not detract from her one iota. While I agree that the fashion of today seems to be to pick some flash and get it splashed, I am somewhat offended that you would denigrate me without knowing me.

    1. JEM, I knew I was going to upset some people — such as yourself — with this post, and I said as such at the end of it. I am sure that many people with tattoos (e.g. old bikers like yourself) are fine people. Sadly, though, it’s the same as the old bookies’ maxim: “David killed Goliath — but that’s not the way to bet.”
      It’s not just me. The U.S. Armed Forces and civilian employers all over the world, to name just two that I know about, are starting to look askance at people with tattoos and refusing to employ them — and clearly, they feel they have good reason to do so.
      I stand by what I wrote.

      1. “JEM, I knew I was going to upset some people — such as yourself — with this post, and I said as such at the end of it. I am sure that many people with tattoos (e.g. old bikers like yourself) are fine people.

        And yet you posted it anyway. Fuck off.

        1. I’m sorry. In the future, I promise to post only the things that don’t offend anyone.

          And now, you may return to your faculty office at Harvard. Or. in your vernacular: YOU can fuck off.

  37. Years and years ago I was on a subway in Paris and standing less than a foot from an African-African woman with the most beautiful symmetrical face with perfect posture on a long neck, incredible almond eyes and she had three deep perfect tribal scars that looked kind of like cat whiskers on her cheeks. Although my wife was beside me I kind of fell in love for a few moments with that fellow traveller and she was perfection in her own way. What the hell does that mean.

    1. In Paris, I’ll bet she wasn’t African-American, but just Black. I try to avoid using PC expressions like African-American or Native American to describe certain ethnicities because the phrases are over-broad. After all, our host Kim is an African-American (with more right to that title than most black people), and I myself am a Native American despite being a fair-skinned, grey-eyed blond.

  38. When my son was in the Marine Corps and stationed at Camp Pendleton, he was shacked up with a woman off base. One day he went down to Tijuana and got her name tattooed on his back. My reaction was “Dude, I’ve been married to your mother for 30 years. MAYBE in another 15 or 20 years, when I’m sure it’s going to last, I’ll think about getting her name as a tattoo. Not the name of someone you’re only shacked up with.”
    Anyway, he got out of the Corps, and the girl dumped him. Then he met the woman who is now his wife. And she has a different name.

  39. I figure you have every right to your opinion on tattoos. I believe that the Marines actually at one time started to crack down on them, at least visible ones. I myself have none, I find the idea of them silly. Like you said, if I want a cross, I can wear one on a chain. I understand though, the idea of some people who have them. Not those idiots who make themselves into a walking canvas, or a walking monstrosity, but those who perhaps commemorate an occasion, such as the military man who gets the USN or the man whose daughter dies and gets her initials on his wrist or such. Even the young lady who gets a dragonfly on her ankle is to me on a different level than what you are classifying all people who get tats in. I honestly don’t see how tattoos are much different than some of the make up that I see these young ladies using these days. Actually, now that I think of it, they actually are using tattoo artists to apply make up, so that they don’t have to keep doing it every day.

    1. You can wash make-up off your face. Also: I said that I GET why people have commemorative tattoos, I just don’t agree with the practice.
      Your body, your choice. I don’t have to agree with it, though.

      1. Certainly you have the right to disagree with the idea. I didn’t mean to imply anything different. In the Old Testament, it even goes so far as to actually say not to mark your bodies permanently such as this. I could find the exact passage if you wanted, but I am sure that you have seen it. Not that we live under the law today, unless we are Jewish. However, there are many parts of the law that were given to mankind that were given for our own good, and not just as a burden on us. Tattoos are often responsible for many different diseases, such as hep b and c, and infections, etc. Like I said, I find them silly, and I often also see those who can least afford them to have many hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of ink on their bodies. Just like the poor find the money to spend on cigarettes and lottery tickets. But that is another subject altogether.

        1. Agree on that last part. It’s amazing that many of those who “just can’t find a job” can still manage to smoke a pack a day, drink a sixer (or two) every evening and have thousands of dollars worth of tattoos covering both arms and various other body parts.

    2. The USMC cracked down on visible tattoos in the mid-late 90s. A couple of guys in my platoon were threatened with NJP for “willfully damaging government property”.

      I did have to feel amazed by the idiots who got kanji in Okinawa. “So, you’re going to get an obvious member of the Yakuza to permanently write something on you that you can’t read, in a country where the locals hate us. Sounds brilliant.”
      I looked up some of the meanings. They weren’t complimentary.

      But that doesn’t match the crazy of a guy I met in California. He had a deep abiding fear that he’d be decapitated, evidently at a time when the same was happening to other people around him. So he had a barcode of his social security number on the back of his neck, so the right head could be easily matched to the right body.

  40. A bit off topic, but WRT lowlifes who play football; I had a friend from London who said Rugby was a thug’s game played by gentlemen and football (soccer) was a gentleman’s game played by thugs.

  41. An excellent topic. I have no such things on me. I’ve always felt that if it wasn’t some kind of modest service tatoo, in 10 years you’ll wish you hadn’t done it. And since we know that about a third of everyone claiming to be a decorated veteran is lying, well, how many people are getting service tattoos that claim they are something they are not? Fake Navy Seals anyone? I’ve read that when the living Medal of Honor men get together each year, every year a fake one shows up. And with all the old guys with veteran hats I see around here (retirement town) I have wondered for years if a third of them never served but just bought the hat.

    Around here I see lots of people older than I am who have tats all over the place, men and women both. Which is odd since I thought mine was the pre-tats generation. I’m 49 by the way.

    But what gets me much, much worse is all these younger people, getting these disgusting hoop things in their earlobes that stretch them out. Those things are the latest fashion from the cannibal tribes of New Guinea. And now they are all the fashion rage. Bad enough to see a male with an earring. But now many, even here in a small, very rural town are getting these stupid hoops in their ears. And to me, all they are is a public “I am very stupid” announcement. If I ran a business, I would never hire someone with those stupid hoop things in their earlobes. I cannot respect the intelligence of anyone sporting those things much like I can’t respect the intelligence of anyone who voted for Obama or Hillary or Kerry or Gore for that matter.

    But all this brings up another item I’d love to see some commentary on, Kim. Rings for men. I’ve never had much use for rings, I had a high school ring once and wore it, until some roommate’s crazed female stole it about a year and a half later. Never worn or even bought a male ring since then. I wear a wristwatch. Usually a cheap one from Walmart for no more than 30 dollars, though 5 years ago I gave up on Walmart Timexes and laid out 200 for a nice Seiko that I’ve been happy to own ever since. If I were rich, I still wouldn’t feel a need to wear a ring. I see other men with them, but to me they seem to be little more than a way of saying “Hey females, I have some money”. The exception would be some kind of school ring from a top school or a military academy that could be a quiet, modest way of stating that one is probably competent at something.

    And Ok, I suppose if I were Magnum P.I. and my secret elite unit all got a ring, I’d wear it. And if anyone from the unit turned into a criminal I’d shoot them in an airport bathroom and take their ring back.

    1. I wear a family crest ring and a fraternity ring. Both have meaning to me. As for ornamental bling rings, I agree with you.

      Funny enough, my $200 Invicta stays in the drawer. Instead, I wear a $30 Timex. Why? It keeps better time and it has a light.

    2. Fashions come and go. There was a time when Real Men wore high heels and wigs. They also wore swords, and used them with abandon. And every generation is abso-damned-loutly sure that THEIR way is the only right way.

    3. I’ve got a college class ring. Haven’t worn it in years, need to get it resized.

      The watch…well, I indulged myself with a good automatic chronograph. Bremont ALT-1Z. With U.S. Naval Test Pilot School unit markings (and yes, you do have to be a graduate to order one). That was a point of pride.

    4. But what gets me much, much worse is all these younger people, getting these disgusting hoop things in their earlobes that stretch them out.

      I fear those, because I know that one day I shall succumb to temptation and snap a padlock through one and run (well, hobble) away laughing like Hell because I threw the key away.

      1. Sorry, I should have said. Wedding rings are a given, at least among Western or Christian nations. They are just a simple, easily recognized statement that one is married. Though I think I recall that Wiccans and other Pagans don’t do wedding rings. I mainly mean rings as ornaments.

  42. I like whatever comedian (can’t remember which one) who said “I used to get scared whenever I saw a guy with full sleeve tattoos, now I just tell him to get my coffee”.

  43. My Grandfather was a doctor and one of his patients was a sailor during WWII or Korea. Before he left, he got his girlfriend’s name tattooed on him. When he got back, they both realized that they had changed and went their separate ways. The ex-sailor married someone else and every argument with his wife ended with “why don’t you go back to Daisy (or whatever her name was)! She’ll put up with your nonsense!” My Grandfather related that parable as a lesson.

    I’d like to get a commemorative tattoo for my first dog but I don’t want the thing to get ugly over time which many tattoos do and secondly I don’t know if I want to spend the money.

    Rarely have I met someone that made me think that they’d look better with ink.

    Piercings? Other than women’s earlobes are not for me. I find the gauges in ears, nasal, eyebrow lip and other piercings rather creepy.

  44. My stepfather, who worked his way through college in the ’30s shipping out in the Merchant Marine, and finished medical school in an accelerate program during WWII. He graduated soon enough to tell me that the shipboard short arm inspection scene in Richard Hooker’s original MASH novel was “about right.”

    He later trained in psychiatry, and over the years did research at a state prison and there and elsewhere interviewed many convicts and accused criminals in forensic consultations and testified in court many times. Between prisons and the Merchant Marine he had known a lot of guys with tattoos.

    Back in the ’60s or early ’70s he once told me that in his experience one or two tattoos usually meant going out with your buddies and getting drunk and stupid. Multiple tattoos generally meant serious psychopathology (or were gang related, which didn’t exclude the psychopathology.)

    I realize that times change, fashions change. But I still wonder why, in our society, a fashion arose whose cultural roots seem to be in tribal and gang loyalties and which in living memory was a sign of insanity.

    My stepfather once testified in an assault case. The accused was well known (it was a small town) as a mean, violent guy who would get drunk and beat people up. He had done so in the case in question, inflicting serious injuries. The DA was sick of this guy and wanted him off the streets for a while. The defense was “not guilty of premeditated assault by reason of being too drunk to premeditate.”

    My stepfather’s testimony covered the following facts: The accused was a binge drinker. He drank when he felt like it, but sometimes days or weeks would go by without his feeling like it. He had gone into the bar to get drunk, knowing when sober that when he drank he was very likely to get violent.

    The DA got his conviction.

  45. I got mine because my grandpa was a sailor and had a bunch of em, and I loved em when I was a little kid; I wanted to look just like him when I grew up. I just loved it when he flexed his bicep and made the hula girl dance for me. I got my first one back in the early 80s, way before the current craze. By the time I got that first one, I had come to think of them as indelible roadmaps of my life: mementos of places I’d been, things I’d done, my mindset at the time. I’m an old fart now, and they’re getting all faded and blurry, but I have not one regret. It does kind of annoy me that they’re not as effective at setting you apart from the common herd these days, but what the heck, that ain’t something I can control, and doesn’t really matter much anyway. I know who I am, I know why I got ’em, and I’m perfectly content with both. I am reminded now and then, though, of the classic old joke among tattooed folks: know what the biggest difference is between tattooed people and non-tattooed people? Tattooed people don’t care if you’re not tattooed.

  46. When I was growing up, the world was divided into two groups: Those with tattoos and those without. On the “with” side were only sailors and members of biker gangs. Everyone else was on the the “without” side of the ledger. Because it was a sign on rebellion, not conformity – which it is now.

  47. On reading, I concur. And feel bound to point this out. One of the myriad deaths of beloved entertainers this year (for certain values of “beloved” was Gregg Allman). Yes, the boy had bunches other problems, but he COULD sing the blues. He died of complications from liver cancer. What you might not know is that he had hepatitis C. Which, I have been advised by those close to him, almost certainly came along with the tattoos. The point? Exactly.

    M

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