Why would you get a tattoo?

Lisa Waugh

I used to see tattoos and think numerous things. If they were tacky or faded, I thought the usual. If someone I liked had them, even if they were tacky and faded l, I probably became friends with them at some point. But tattoos were rare for people in my age group.

I saw my dad’s eagle with a flat top get sliced down the middle when they used a vein in his leg for his quadruple bypass surgery back in the late 80s. I thought tattoos were for dudes like my dad. Ultimately, I could take them or leave them.

There are many ways to be “hard”

Then, in my mid 40s, I got my first one. And I found out what many people with tattoos already know:

– They hurt, especially near bone

– They make you unemployable by certain concerns and outfits   (which is a plus I think)

– People have strong reactions to them

My friends have shared various comments about their tattoos from friends and family:

“Uh. Did you mean to fuck up your body?”
“Why in the hell would you do that to yourself?”
“I wish I could get one. But I’m too afraid to.”
“Get out of my house!”
“You cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery now. Your mother is crying. Are you happy?”
“Dude, I think it’s spelled “Genius” not “Genuis.”
“Congratulations, you look trashy now.”
“Is that supposed to be Bettie Page? Cause that looks like a really high Sarah Silverman.”


Justin Jakus, my artist at Black Diamond in Venus

I have asked a few friends (exactly three) what they thought of this new one but really don’t want to know the answer. What am I doing to do about it? This shit is way too big for laser removal and really… who cares? Probably me to a certain degree. As you can tell, I’m ambivalent about it.

I have certain beliefs about things such as god and how finite it all is, blah blah blah. Mainly, I see this shell as temporary. I try to remind myself of that fact when I’m shoe horning my ass into yoga pants.

Plus, as a dear friend put it, “Since you got them now, you have less time to regret them.” Wow, my friends sure are swell.

The Change Over

How many tattoos do you need before you become 50 Cent? It depends on a few things.

Location, design, how many and your personality. Let’s say I’m about to pop some essas on the corner because they undercut my score with the Colombians like I saw on The Wire this one time. I think I need a neck tattoo for that scenario.

Feels like a sunburn, a sunburn with daggers

I don’t think a sparrow tattoo is going to cut it. Maybe a tear under my eye to show that I have shanked a person in prison would help.

Then there’s the more measured response to something quite permanent and unmistakable, “Well, Chuck, that tiger breaking through your chest with a shark in its mouth really brings out the color of your eyebrows. Here’s a shirt.”

For others, you get lumped in with Mike Tyson even you get a flower on your foot. Some people simply freak out over tattoos.

Mostly, my tattoos will remain covered. I don’t have one of those showable bodies and prefer to stow away my back fat and bovine swimmer’s shoulders under a T or collared shirt. Since most of mine are out of sight, it’s weird to see the reaction when my t-shirt sleeve slips up. “I didn’t know you have tattoos?!”

It’s almost like someone just found out you are a Scientologist, do three ways or vegan. I’d like to think of it as people finding out that I’m awesome. But I don’t really. Because I’m not a 28 year-old dude. Mostly, I don’t think about people’s reactions. Until I got this last tattoo on Sunday.

Yep. That’s going to leave a mark.

It’s big… a full upper sleeve. Yep. I’m fucking tattooed. It’s practically noticeable from space. Am I regretting it? Is this a cry for help? Will it make me play bass better even though I can’t play in the first place? Not exactly any of those. It’s just that…

It’s hard to write about getting this tattoo without sounding a little defensive. It’s silly. Yet, somehow, I am about this one. Even though not one person has said anything negative about it. (That’s is not an invitation for you to talk some shit in the comments either)… I’m sure I’ll settle in with it as time goes on. It’ll become a part of me like my pigeon-toed gait, man knees, and compulsion to clean the kitchen while intoxicated.

I have to get used to it’s, it’s… uber tattooiness. Until then, don’t ask me to wear a sleeveless dress to your wedding unless the bride is showing hers or Dave Navarro is playing the reception.

Wait. I’m peeling.