Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The One Trend I Never Tried

I was pretty trendy in my twenties. Platform shoes. Ecotourism. Sleek sushi restaurants. A quarterlife crisis, starter marriage, fancy beer and bootcut jeans.


Somehow, in all that inadvertent love of the Next Big Thing, I never got a tattoo. My shoulder is not adorned with the mystic Chinese symbol for strength (which is far more likely to be the mystic symbol for Egg Foo Young, lifted off a delivery menu). No roses march across my ankle, my lower back is sadly free of a sunshine or butterfly tramp stamp, and a jailhouse strip search won't reveal a fairy or daisy.

Mostly, I'm relieved. Now that mortality is a slightly more concrete concept, it is far too easy to picture myself as that saggy, tarty, inky old lady on the beach. Also, back when I was a member of the tattoo demographic, I thought red pleather pants were pretty rockin'. I had loud taste, by which I mean you could generally hear my outfit from across the room. So I'm sure I would have picked something tacky and horrid. A battleship on my breast, perhaps, which would drop anchor in a few years.

Sometimes, though, it makes me a little sad. See, I believe that one should not pick up the ink habit after age 30. It's undignified, like developing a sudden prurient interest in the Jonas Brothers or taking up binge drinking. Tattoos, jailbait and booze are all habits best carried over from our twenties, not undertaken as new journeys after blowing out those 30 candles.

So I've missed the tattoo train, and one more option in life has been taken off the table. Life sometimes feels like the constant narrowing of options. However, the saving grace of maturity is that we realize not everything is right for everyone, and that narrow worlds are fine if those are the proportions we've asked for. I don't really care what sort of body art other people have, and I'm sure most people have a very good reason for getting inked, but I'm grateful I have none of my own.

And, best of all, I've been spared the sight of my slowly reconfiguring* early-30s posterior, graced with the face of Ozzy Osbourne. So, all in all, I'll consider my inkless body a win.

In the comments, tell me about your ink. Especially if it's a good story. Or, be silly enough to take me seriously here, and call me a judgmental unfunny twit. Or, tell me why you don't have any, or...try to erase the mental image of my naked hindquarters adorned with the grimacing face of Ozzy Osbourne. Can't do it, can you?

*Yes, girls, after age thirty, stuff, uh, moves around. Not necessarily smaller, bigger, higher, or lower, just...reconfigured. Like your body has reformatted your fatty hard drives without your consent. So be ready to laugh, get over it, and go buy some new pants.

40 comments:

HP said...

As you know (being that I'm 5 days younger than you) I fall into that same demographic that should be covered in ink by now. Alas, I am not, mainly due to commitment issues that made me unable to decide on what design and where, although if I had gone through with any of my tattoo whims, I'd be likely to have a celtic arm band; a butterfly tramp stamp; and a tree somewhere on my back (shut up, I embrace my hippieness). I am instead, pocked with the remnants of my adventures in body piercing--ears; navel; nose and one on my tongue that actually never closed up.

Shannon said...

HP - Since I'm older and wiser, I hope you'll listen to me. Butterfly tattoos are just way too trendy and dated. Like a Farrah Fawcett perm that never grows out.

LizSara said...

It's lovely that you chose not to get inked, obviously if you couldn't make the decision to do it you wouldn't have been happy with what you got.

As someone over thirty with twelve tattoos i am quite happy and confident that i won't at any point be a 'saggy tarty inky old lady on the beach'.

Anyone who gets tattooed sober knows the implications of having it done, your post reads like you think no-one thinks of the later life consequences and it's just a twenties fad that everyone regrets.

I hope i'm reading that wrong because to 'realise that not everything is right for everyone' after the rest of your post seems a little condescending to say the least.

J said...

Mostly, I'm afraid of needles :)

Well, no, "mostly" is misleading. I also can't think of anything I'd want on my body permanently, and generally see no real need for one. Nothing against them, just never really saw the point..

What's silly is girls who "find tattoos on a guy super hot". This is a larger demographic than one might imagine. I'm not really sure it somehow demonstrates one has certain personality traits. The only thing a tattoo signifies to me is that someone was willing to sit in a chair for an hour so some guy could inject ink into them.

Girls with Playboy bunny tramp stamps, on the other hand...

Shannon said...

LizSara - Not my intent at all, and I've updated the wording so it comes across a little more clearly.

For me, personally, getting a tattoo would have been silly and faddish. I don't much care what other people do to themselves, and if people enjoy that sort of thing, fine. I'm a live-and-let-live kind of person.

J - I'll admit I went through a phase where I dated guys with tattoos, but that was primarily accidental (that was right around the guitarist fetish phase).

Gilahi said...

Fortunately, I came to the realization fairly early on in life that I'm just too fickle for a tattoo. I couldn't imagine anything that I might want to have permanently emblazoned on my body, because things that I used to love were now something of an embarrassment to me. Today, I'd be a 52-year-old guy with "Three Dog Night" or "Uriah Heep" or "Deep Purple" or Mr. Natural epidermically stamped on some part of my body that I'd feel compelled to keep covered.

Tina said...

As an over 40 that got my ink well after 30 I almost feel like I should some how be offended but oddly - I'm not. I wasn't following a trend or trying to hold on to my youth or anything silly like that.

My tattoo was chosen and executed for a very specific reaon. When my dad passed away I felt like it had altered me in some permanent way and I wanted some permenet mark to acknowledge that. I also wanted it to be a relatively private thing so its a discretely placed cross - very small and very plain. No one sees it unless I want them to and no one knows what it is for unless I want them to. I did it for me and I am perfectly content with it - no matter how it looks as I age, sag, and bag. I think people get ink for a much larger variety of reasons than you may realize and how content they are with it depends a lot on why they did it.

Shannon said...

Gilahi - I saw a Warrant tattoo once. Because we want to forever remember "Cherry Pie."

Tina - Thanks for taking this post in the spirit it was intended - I am not implying that all tattoos are bad, I'm saying that I'm glad I don't have one, because I would have chosen something dreadful. Your tattoo sounds lovely.

Brett said...

You just made me dread 30. I don't want to be reformatted into a fatty not-so-hard drive!

Anyway I briefly flirted with the tattoo idea a few years back. Now I am so glad I don't have a Scorpio symbol on my hip bone. I've dated guys with some BAD tattoos. Like the flag of Chicago on his shin -wtf? Or a dolphin jumping over the moon on his shoulder blade- how, uh, princess like...

Shannon said...

Brett - Early 30s Ass Drift is really not so bad. I also developed hips for the first time in my life, which are awesome for closing kitchen drawers.

HomeImprovementNinja said...

Well, on America's Most Wanted, they always describe someone by their tattoos, so one of the many reason's I avoided them is that in case I embezzled millions of dollars and tried to hide in a tropical paradise somewhere, that I wouldn't be betrayed by my stupid tribal tatts.

LizSara said...

I guess it just didn't read as personally the first time, like it's what you thought about everyone with them.

Also battleship boobs would have made a great nickname (not)

Shannon said...

Ninja - Next, you'll have to laser off all of your distinctive ninja sword scars.

LizSara - No worries - I'm just always a little astonished when people take me seriously.

Michael said...

As a Defense Department employee (I was a U.S. Army private, OK?), I once considered getting a tattoo during a drinking binge in Charleston, South Carolina. But I did not see an eagle of the right size and sufficient wildness for my manly physique, so I passed.

But the U.S.S. New Jersey on your left breast, firing a full salvo at an enemy-held island on your right breast? Hmm. Assuming it was "viewable" publicly, that maybe would up the sketchy-man quotient a bit too much.

HP said...

Oh, and I will readily admit that tattoos on guys are a huge plus in my book. I cannot explain why. They just are.

singlegirl said...

I didn't get my first tattoo until I was 30. Now I have 3. And it's highly likely that I will get more. I have been careful to place them in areas that won't particularly sag or wrinkle. I've kind of wanted one on the back of my neck, but I realize that when I'm 80 and I am wearing the required old lady short hairdo, it won't go off so well at the old folk's home.

Lemmonex said...

You know how much I love my men with tattoos.

I like my shoulder ink, hate my tramp stamp...but oh well. Not all my mistakes are as visible and most of them are much worse.

Shannon said...

Michael - A mammarian sea battle? Awesome. I'd get the U.S.S. North Carolina though, to infuse it with personal meaning.

HP - Yet another area in which our taste in men overlaps.

singlegirl - I don't know if I agree. A badass tattoo might make it your turn at Wii bowling just a little more often, and people might give you their meds.

Shannon said...

Lem - I knew about the shoulder...but, you have a tramp stamp? What of?

Dmbosstone said...

I don't have any ink and I'm not really a fan- that being said I wonder if we think twice during our foolish years, were we so convinced that a tattoo would be treasured forever?

Also, "a battleship on my breast, perhaps, which would drop anchor in a few years" is the best line ever. You win.

Erin said...

I guess I have a tramp stamp...but technically it's lower than most because you can't see it when I'm wearing normal pants/skirts. I got it for my 25th birthday in NYC, and it's a celtic knot.

Then about five years ago on vacation in FL, my sister, brother and I got matching shamrock tats on the inside of our left ankles (I paid for all of them).

It's been a few years now, and I don't regret getting either.

Zipcode said...

I got my first tattoo one month before my 30th bday - a batman symbol tramp stamp (hush) -- just this past summer, I got tattoo number 2 - an angel and devil tribal piece above batman, then over thanksgiving, I got tattoo number 3 - the cross in honor of my dad in the middle of my back.

I am not done either. You are nevert too old to get ink!! I plan on getting 2 more in the near future.

Shannon said...

Dmbosstone - Screw diamonds, a tattoo is forever!

Erin - Awesome - I knew about the shamrock, not about the knot. Hrm...does Mike have any tats? Er, actually, don't tell me.

Zip - I've seen Batman, and it is, in fact, boss.

Heather said...

I am the most indecisive person and when I actually would decide on a design, I am sure years later I would regret it. I personally just don't want anything that permanent on my body.

I very much do enjoy others' reasons for putting tattoos on their body though, they have much better/unique/interesting reasons(sometimes) then I would.

But give me a piercing any day, I can handle that. haha.

Titania said...

I am think I am too much of a commitment phobic to get a tattoo... I did consider very seriously to get a belly button piercing once though, but the the body transformation of after 30 pushed me to reconsider, that and my neverending fear of needles

Shannon said...

Heather - Oh boy...are you pierced? Or do I want to know?

Titania - oh, I could not imagine where a belly button piercing would migrate to after 30. Probably, it would pop right off.

bh said...

First of all: Great Post.

It's odd, at one point in the early nineties, I felt like the only guy in college without a pierced ear. Then ear piercings on men sort of went way as a mainstream deal and I felt like I was the man for predicting a fad.

I've gone back and forth on tats the same way. I'm sort of considering getting a tat on my shoulder or something to symbolize a new phase in my life, but I've a nagging feeling that like my stock picking, I'll buy at the top of the market.

I also feel like I don't have a sufficiently strong reason to get a tattoo that I'll be able to justify down the line.

As a funny store, Back when Texas A&M had a really good football team, I knew a guy who got a Calvin pissing on a Texas Longhorn symbol. Betcha he feels like a winner now.

[F]oxymoron said...

I'm a big fan of temporary tattoos. Lick on, Henna, Bic pens, Sharpies... you name it, I've done it.

lustyreader said...

i never had the urge to get a tattoo as i always PLANNED on getting fat and saggy, but i did go with the piercings...why do so many of us in the comments feel more comfortable with piercings?

the one in my left ear cartiledge is still black 5 years after taking it out and i am DESPARATELY afriad of what is going to happen to my pierced navel when i get preggers.

Shannon said...

bh - Wow, it's bad enough when people put bumper stickers Calvin peeing on the back of their cars, but who in their right mind would permanently emblazon it on their body?

Foxy - So, when the Disaffected Scanner Jockey line of temporary tattoos comes out, you better be first in line!

Lusty - Your baby will be born with a pirate hoop earring, that's what will happen.

Fiery Nuggets said...

Like everything in my life -- with tattoos, I know what I want, but I'm too scared to get it. It's going to hurt too much!!! Ouchie. But one day, maybe I will get the courage.

FoggyDew said...

I've gone back-and-forth on the tat idea for a lot of years. Somehow, I made it through six years in the Marines and never got one. Although, I specifically remember one guy who got himself a big 'ol bulldog on his arm...the day before his lazy ass was medically discharged.

I may still get one, something celtic and probably on my calf (unless I really get into weightlifting again, then it goes on my bicep). But that day is still in the future.

Oh, and even I knew about Lem's stamp.

Shannon said...

Fiery - Would liquid courage help?

Foggy - Everyone knows more about Lem than I do! I need to get back in my habit of watching her sleep from outside her window.

bh said...

Last time I was in Austin, I saw some really impressive full color upper arm sleeves at Barton Springs Pool. I was all fired up until I found out that sort of thing costs thousands.

I think I'd rather to to Hawaii for a week and get some crappy tiny tattoo instead.

f.B said...

i am tat-free since '83! well, actually, '82... but that didn't rhyme.

i've thought about changing that, but i guess i just haven't wanted it badly enough. add a serious talent for procrastination to that, and well...

Shannon said...

bh - maybe you could save some money and license parts of your sleeve to major sponsors! Who wouldn't want "Nike" and "Union Carbide" gracing their forearms?

f.B - I bet you'll do the same thing I did: wake up on your 30th birthday, consumed with regret for not having gotten a tattoo. That is, once you've gotten over the excruciating hangover.

lacochran said...

No tats. I've always thought skin looked better than tats.

Zandria said...

Butterflies, dragonflies, and flower tattoos kind of make me cringe. That being said, I do have a Chinese symbol that I got a little over a year ago (at least I'm still in my 20s, though, so I'm not over your "no tattoos over age 30" threshold!). :)

justjp said...

I have 50 hours worth. Yes, hours. 2 full sleeves, back, legs and I am getting geared up to do my chest. I am 28, so i may quit in 2 years. Maybe.

Shannon said...

lacochran - especially your skin, which is really quite lovely.

Zan - You neglected to tell us where it was!

justjp - was this all in one sitting?