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Perfuming the lily, Sweet Al on my arm

We were invited over for dinner at a friend’s house.

The hosts also inviteda couple from California. I stood back and listened to the conversation. It was all about tattoos.

Everyone has an opinion and my opinion is, it’s such a permanent decision.

Everyone there was from the old school. When I was growing up, no one had tattoos, except for sailors who swore. Only wild kids had tattoos. We didn’t hang around them. Fast forward fifty years, the ratio has changed. Probably more people have tattoos than not.

Mike and Paula from California have seen more than we have in our little town. It was interesting to hear how people from different generations look at things.

I kept my mouth shut.

I remember going to a figure drawing class in Durango. The model was an absolutely gorgeous girl with a perfect figure. As I was drawing her, I marveled at her perfect proportions, until I saw the big tattoo.

I said to her, “Why would you want to perfume the lily? You are beautiful. You take away from what the Lord has given you. You’re gilding the gold.”

She had no answer.

That was twenty years ago, and today I am trying to keep my opinions to myself.

Tattooing shows a big gap in generations.

I’m just thinking of a friend I know who got a tattoo of the Guns and Roses logo, the band. Is that band still in existence? I remember asking her about the band tattoo.

She said, “Boyfriends come and ago, but a good band is forever.”

What about Angelina Jolie? She has twelve tattoos, or more, now. One for each of her children and other things. She is gorgeous without them. I wonder how she covered up Billy Bob Thornton.

Then there is the woman who has a Tinker Bell tattoo. She got it when she was a young girl. She is in her late forties, and she hates it.

We have a friend who came out of prison. Apparently tattooing is a pastime there. He came out with a whole story on his arms and shoulders. He explained it to me then; it is the story of who he was. I haven’t talked to him since he got his life back together, and he is now an outstanding young man. I wonder how he sees his life today.

Another friend of mine who was into drugs in California in his early years said he hated his father, and out of defiance, he had words written on the top of his knuckles. He says today, that he hates them. It reminds him of what he used to be and he doesn’t want to be reminded.

I’m just trying to understand. I keep thinking: these tattoos are for a lifetime. What I believed and felt fifty years ago, is not who I am today. If it would have been the fad back then, I am sure I would have had a picture of Elvis Presley. If he had lived, he would be probably eighty or ninety years old today. I’m so glad tattooing wasn’t a fad back then; I’m sure I would have fallen into it, too.

Apparently Mike and Paula from California have two boys who are dating girls covered with tattoos. Paula’s thinking is that the turtle on one of the girl’s backs will slide down between her shoulder blades when she gets old. The five piercings in each ear and the other seven piercings elsewhere are a little too much. I understand that spaghetti gets caught in her tongue piercing. Then Paula explained that the young girl is really nice and is really clean.

Mike said, “She’s just a little thing and doesn’t have much real estate. Luckily, she can’t hold too many more tattoos.”

My Sweet Al said, “My girls have plenty of real estate. It’s a good thing they are not into tattoos. There might be a shortage of ink.” Then, he winked at me.

Final brushstoke

As an artist I should be able to understand this new thing called body art. I have painted on everything but myself. Who knows? Al’s a keeper after 52 years. I might be wearing “Sweet Al” on my arm.

Artist’s quote

“Life is not accountable to us for meaning; we are accountable to life!” — Unknown.


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