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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Life is Like A Britney Spears Poster

If I had a kid who wanted to get a tattoo, this is what I'd say.

"Remember that [insert early 2000s pop star name here] poster you had? The one that refused to fully uncurl? The one that you had to tape back up on your wall every couple of weeks? The one with the faded tape corners and the little rips and tears? The one you threw away and replaced with the [insert current indie band name here] poster?

So get your tattoo, but wait a few years. Tack the image to the ceiling, above your bed, and gaze up at it before you go to sleep and when you awaken in the morning. And then, after five years, if it hasn't faded, if the tape corners haven't yellowed, if you still want it inked into your flesh, if you still need it, get it.

If it's a person's name, or put there for someone you love, and you still love that person, you won't need it anymore. If that person is no longer a part of your life, you won't need it anymore. If it's art, and the style and the subject still grab your eye and your imagination, consider it. But if you find that you're forgetting to look at that picture on the wall before closing your eyes, if the lines and the colors are as familiar as the crown moulding, if you can't remember the last time you saw it, really saw it, then consider how five more years will affect it.

If you can't see yourself wearing that shirt you were mad about five years ago, reconsider.

That's just a suggestion though. Because when your rolling through the night, inside yourself, wondering what it's all about and where you fit in, it will sound like a really good idea. And that all-night tattoo place, with the red neon lighting, will look like a really good idea.

Sometimes we just have to live in the now. That's okay. But understand, the now lies."

Not having a kid, that's what I've told myself. You see, about 6 months ago, I was rolling through the night, thinking about the things I needed to do versus the things I wanted to do and I realized that there was one thing, one thing in my life that never curled up at the edges or faded from the sun.

My love for writing.

And at that point, I decided that despite my reticence, I needed a tattoo. On my left shoulder. Commemorating my first professional short story sale. My right shoulder would be bare, and I'd feel unbalanced, until I made that novel sale. And then I would emblazon that fact there. And I'd be complete in some way. And I would look at those tattoos, day after day, and I'd never tire of their colors, never grow weary of their design, never want to turn them in for a newer, younger ambition.

That's what changed my thinking about tattoos. And why, when I pass that tattoo parlor in the night, it gives me pause.


Charles Gramlich said...

I've considered a tattoo a number of times, but could never find or think of a design that I really wanted on my body forever. Now I doubt that I'll ever go for it.

Clifford said...

I think it's the image behind the image that matters.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Ah, tattoos. As a Jew, I have a thing about getting a tattoo...no not because of the Holocaust, but because it is against the religion.

You're so dead on here, Cliff. I see men in their thirties and early forties walking around with enormous tattoos of now defunct rock bands and know they regret the absurdity of it all.

And speaking of tats, let me refer you to my favorite commercial. A man in a swim suit stands in the center of a room, stripes tattooed to his entire body. He is trying to convince someone over the phone that he wants the stripes removed. Someone with an Asian dialect says:

"No, those are permanent tattoos. You a tiger now, Roger."

You a tiger now.

About Me

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This is me and one of my two cats. His name is Cougar, and he’s an F1 Chausie. A chausie is a new breed of cat under development. Chausies are the result of a cross between a domestic cat (in Cougar’s case, a Bengal) and a jungle cat (Felis Chaus). Cougar’s mom is 8 pounds and his father is a 30-pound jungle cat. He’s about 16 pounds, super intelligent, spirited, and toilet trained. A writer without a cat (or two) is not to be trusted.