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Tattoo You, Tattoo Me

In Which the Lure of Ink Proves Near Irresistible


Lately, I’ve been made aware of a growing craze in society; there’s been a deluge of tattoos, everywhere. It’s not that tattoos are a new flavor of the week; I can think of a relative who had a tattoo of some kind of black warrior done during his days as a male nurse in the 1950s military that, by the time I first saw it some 30-plus years later, was so wrinkled that it resembled a scurvy-ridden survivor of an isolated, ancient South Pacific air disaster. And that was a little blue ink figure; what is to become of the people with the entire Fritz the Cat anthology tattooed on their arm, a “sleeve” if you will? I’m guessing that as the years pass, such “artwork” will probably come to degrade, and your bitchin’ rendition of Fritz, Bertha, and Duke the Crow will end up resembling splotchy, ancient war paint instead of an R. Crumb masterpiece; perhaps careers as aged western battle re-enactors lie in store for such people.

Years ago, I knew an aficionado of this “ink,” as he called it, his lust so intense he spent all his spare earnings on new graphics. Problem is, these days, though, he looks and lives like something out of “American Gothic” and runs a number of family-friendly frozen dairy outlets across suburban Detroit. Despite the third-world nature of that town, he still has to wear long sleeves and hide all those works of genius. His father-in-law hits him with newspapers like a disobedient dog when he tries in vain to stand up for his wife during arguments.

Well, I guess I can always tell myself that things can always be worse. That said, my New Year’s resolution was to become trendier. It’s time to get with the times, dawg. For too long I have lived on the margins of society, an out of touch Luddite, far removed from the prying nature of trends and being trendy. But what is the joy in that? I need to get with it, man. So I am. I’m joining the tattoo craze.

First things first, I’ve got to choose location. All the real estate guides maintain that’s the most important thing. I don’t want something visible, so getting a Maori facial tattoo is somewhat out of the equation, which is pure shit because I’d been wanting one of those. And getting dueling, red-eyed, fire-breathing cobras down the length of my arms is probably out of the question as well.

Honestly, it has to be plastered across my ass cheeks. Ingenious. It’d only be seen by people it should be seen by, and even if it got hideous, I’d be old anyway. If all one has to complain about in the height of the “Golden Years” is a hideous tattoo on your ass, life’s pretty good. And if you have worse things to complain about, well, I guess you can take solace in the fact that your heinous, hideous “body art,” way past its prime, is probably going to be the least of the lady wiping your ass’s concerns at that point in time.

But what to get? A Chinese landscape would be wild and always provide surprising moments, but after the first time seen, it’d be old news. The Seal of the Great State of Jefferson might be cool but a bit obscure. And something totally foreign could give rise a totally dangerous and explosive moment. For example, as righteous as it’d be to have “Hakika” in Arabic script scrawled out (“The Truth”), I might find myself in Lebanon sometime, bedding some muse from the streets of Gemmayzeh. While the night could be going spectacularly, she could erupt into a series of blood-curdling screams and explode in a violent, deadly rage at sight of my “ink” due to her own militant political leanings, leaving me and my bloody entrails spilled unceremoniously down Gouraud Street. That wouldn’t be good.

In the height of my “Eureka!” moment, my thoughts became interrupted by a television advertisement hawking some unnecessary device. The public display of commercialism, as jarring and interrupting as it was, served a real purpose in the moment. It gave clarity to my ink-quest.

Logos. That’s it! I’ll get corporate logos on my ass cheek in a running tally. I’ll get an annual tattoo, with the most popular or newsworthy corporate logo of that year, tattooed, in full color, in a running total down my ass. So maybe I’ll have “2013: (Apple Logo)” or “2010: (British Petroleum logo).” It’s perfect. They create the jobs; they’re the real America. With this new body art installation, I’ll salute the powerbrokers who, I’m sure, always have my best interests in mind.

And besides, I’m not a square.

M.D. Harkins is a noted authority on small hand tools and Nuristani mating rituals. He has lived in such far-flung locales as Beirut, Lebanon, and Billings, Montana. He maintains the Enlightened Despot blog and has written one novel, Feast. He currently resides in a fortified compound near Isla Vista.

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