Tattoo: Secrets of a Strange Art

When I was 18 a friend of mine went into the Marine Corps. He came back from Parris Island with an intense desire for a tattoo. This was before acquiring a tattoo was made with about as much consideration as buying a new pair of flip-flops. This was back when getting a tattoo was a big deal. Now, anyone under 30 won’t remember this, but believe me when I tell you that back in the day, getting a tattoo was pretty much left to aspiring sideshow acts, white trash (whose tattoos were always done outside the confines of an actual tattoo establishment — that weird greenish ink and sad little block lettering always gave it away), prisoners, and military types — or anywhere these types intersected.  Of course my friend was a military type — that fact had escaped me as I was a late bloomer in the independence department, assuming we would all troop towards adulthood in the same direction more or less — and then I realized that oh yeah! This is the part where we grow up and do stupid things that we regret later. Or not, in the case of my friend. We’ve since lost touch and I don’t know how many tattoos he’s collected (but I’m sure it’s several. They are like potato chips — you never stop at just one). But I would wager that he’s not regretted a single one, especially that first one, which he designed himself. Which, in retrospect, was a pretty nice piece of work.

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