Off-Beat Challenge – Piercings And/Or Tattoos?

Tattoo

The son’s tattoo – all designed and ready to go, but not installed.

I have never got a tattoo because I have absolutely no imagination – and I got my ear pierced for exactly the same reason.

I have not wanted to be part of the madding crowd, but I never wanted to be too far away, for protective camouflage. I don’t want to be one of the flock, but I don’t mind grazing in the same meadow.  Any wolves are more likely to take down a fat young sheep, than a grumpy old goat like me.

I’ve worn cowboy-type boots for almost 50 years, since I found a pair on sale at K-Mart, the first year we were married. In the 1980s, when I was having my mid-life crisis, I didn’t buy a red sports car.  I got the first of a series of second-hand motorcycles, and a black leather jacket to go with it.

The wife and son and I went to an evening movie when there were still theaters downtown. When we came out and headed home, we were confronted with a gaggle of 6 or 8 Goths with a blaring boom-box the size of a VW van, randomly sprawled across the sidewalk.

The wife said later that she was a bit worried about this bunch. Then she looked at me on one side, with my motorcycle boots and leather jacket. On the other side was 6’-2”, hairy, Grizzly Adams-like son, wearing a sort-of sombrero, an ankle-length oilskin duster out of a spaghetti western, and steel-toed work boots.

When it became obvious that we weren’t going to step out into the street to go around this puddle of anti-societal slush, legs and feet were quickly withdrawn into standing or lotus positions.

I went with a co-worker after an 11 PM shift-end, to an upscale roadhouse/bar. The fussy little hostess wanted me to remove my jacket before he’d seat us.  When I asked why, he replied that it looked very much like a motorcycle jacket.  “What a coincidence!  My bike is parked right outside.”  Well, some of the other patrons might feel intimidated, and would I please take it off.

During my change-of–life rebellious period, even before I got my bike and jacket, I thought that I might like to get a tattoo and/or an ear stud. I recently saw a photo of a pretty, young female custom-cake maker in New York, sporting two forearms covered in tattoos.  Back in the ‘80s, tattoos were transgressive and subversive.  She’d have been a professional wrestler, a biker chick, or a stripper.  They have gone from being questionable, to de rigueur.

I had a gold, eagle necklace pendant. Did I want an eagle tattoo??  I had a sweatshirt, a slab of slate, hand-painted by the daughter, and a light switch plate with wolves on them.  Did I want a wolf??  I didn’t want to be identified as either a Star Trek, or a Star Wars nerd.  What else?  What else??!

I’d like to claim that I had decision paralysis, where I couldn’t choose among so many options, but the sad truth is that I just wanted to seem to be a bad boy, but didn’t have enough imagination to know how.

During a discussion while I was composing this post, the loving son helpfully suggested that I have D N R (do not resuscitate) tattooed across my chest.  Like a dead child, dark humor never grows old.

A younger female co-worker asked me if I would give her a ride home, and stop at a nearby mall, so that she could quickly pick up a couple of things. On the drive, she told me that she’d got her second tattoo, but she couldn’t show it to me – right then – because it was inside her bikini line.

Poor tattoo artists. They see it all – even if they don’t want to.  They wear rubber gloves while they work, to prevent infection in either direction, but I’ll bet that a lot of them wish that they could wear a blindfold sometimes, while they work.

As we went from one store to another, she told me that she intended to add a piercing. She didn’t volunteer the location, and I valiantly refrained from asking, or even showing any interest.  I mentioned that, along with the absent tattoo, I’d often thought about getting my ear pierced.  Suddenly, she literally grabbed me by the earlobe, swung me around, and pushed me toward a jewelry store whose window ad read, “Ears Pierced – $10.”

Within a minute – ZAP – I had a cheap piece of glass-chip and plated wire installed in the side of my head.  I objected that, since I only got one piercing and one stud, the price should only be $5.  The clerk insisted that there were no reductions….but she did add the other one as a third stud in my friend’s left ear.

Surprisingly, the wife didn’t make a fuss about it – although she did insist that we visit a reputable jeweller as soon as was convenient, and swapped it out for a $80 gold and sapphire (my birthstone) version.

I wore it proudly, and rebelliously, for over 20 years, until one day I stopped in to see the daughter. She had acquired a frisky young, female German shepherd, who insisted that I kneel or bend down so that she could lick my entire face.

One day, as she put a paw up on my shoulder, she must have caught it with a toenail. Fortunately, she only popped the back off, and didn’t rip it from my earlobe.  Assuming that it was still there, I went about a week before I noticed that it was missing.  By then, it was too late to search for it, and the hole had started to heal closed.

Society, and its norms, has greatly changed since the ‘80s. Neither tattoos nor piercings have the cachet they did back then.  At 73, I don’t plan to add either.  It’s just as well.  With all the old folks medical procedures I’ve had, and presumably will have – the clinics and the hospitals have signs that insist that ALL jewelry and piercings must be removed or treatment will not be given.   😳

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