COLUMN: Think before you ink

I don’t like needles to puncture my skin. This is largely why I avoid flu shots, doctors and heroin.

It’s also one of the reasons I’d never get a tattoo.

I’m all about covering up or minimizing most elements of my physical appearance. I don’t wear sleeveless shirts because of my resemblance to the Michelin Man, so I couldn’t pull off a shoulder tattoo. Likewise, for the sake of sparing the public, I try to keep a shirt on at all times if possible, so any sort of chest or back ink would also be a bad choice.

Mike Tyson doesn’t look all that bad with his tiger-stripe facial tattoo (I don’t want to anger him on the off-chance he Googles himself and clicks through 35 pages of results). But anything tattooed on my face would scare old ladies and small children, so I’ll probably avoid doing that, unless my life takes a turn for the worse and I end up in a prison gang.

It’s a bit of a commitment issue for me, too. I can’t think of any particular name or symbol I’d want plastered on me for the rest of my life.

Someone’s name or image would be an especially bad choice for me. I have a dismal success rate with love, and getting a friend’s name tattooed on me would be all sorts of creepy for both parties. Even if I were memorializing a relative, I’d feel kind of weird with an “I Love Grandma” tattoo staring back at me in the mirror when I’m naked.

As far as a symbol, I can’t think of anything (flattering) that would epitomize my existence or make a statement about who I am. Some days I feel like a three-toed sloth, but I’m not about to get a picture of one integrated into my dermis, because, next year, I might feel more like a Galapagos tortoise or some type of slug.

Maybe I should consider those temporary tattoos that were popular when I was a kid. In place of needles, I’d just need a damp wash cloth and fifty cents in change. Or, I could just draw on myself with Sharpies.

Now that I’ve come up with a personal game plan, I want to point out a lot of people can successfully pull off tattoos. I’m not just talking about Hell’s Angels and members of street gangs; I’m referring to people in every walk of life.

Tattoos are losing some of the social stigma they once had, and that’s great. All those (Insert City Name) Ink shows on TLC are proof of that.

But be careful (i.e. sober) if you decide to get a permanent tattoo. Laser removal is much more expensive than a soapy wash cloth.


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