We need to get a grip on this whole tattoo thing. Not to stop people from getting them; some of them are exquisite, some of them profoundly personal and if you still feel it’s hip to do as an expression of fierce individuality when over 53% of 18- to 25-year-olds and over 16% of 60-year-olds already have one, then I say let your freak flag fly.
But there have to be some rules. If the point of many tattoos is to proclaim yourself as a bad-assed, rule-breaking, take-no-prisoners rebel then you should be required to show proof of same at your local parlor before getting inked. “No, Buffy, you cannot get a Born To Be Bad tat because you are not, in fact, born to be bad. You, Buffy, are mall trash. Bring us your felony arrest report and we’ll be happy to accommodate you; until then you qualify for one of our Hello Kitty or iPhone designs.”
Me, I’m pretty agnostic about tattoos. Almost got one back in the day until I made the mistake of going to the Tattoo Expo at a local convention center. Not exactly the group of attractive Mensa candidates thinking clearly about sophisticated job opportunities in the private sector that I wanted to be identified with. Reminded me of the contest a Texas beer company ran a few years ago, giving away a grand prize Harley (after-tax value a whopping $6,500) for whomever got the biggest tattoo of their logo. The winner had the logo tattooed over his entire back. There was no second prize; the runner-up must have justified that to himself … how exactly?
Besides, I already know that I’m a bad boy/good guy and how it either provokes or inspires people, so I figure I don’t need one. And there is no car or skull or flower or Japanese calligraphy I care enough about to have permanently embedded—although I did see one guy at the Expo with a large caricature of himself on his chest and that concept lingered with me for a few days.
One of the strange little perks that comprise the slap employee benefits package: We contribute 50% of the cost for anyone’s tattoo. We pay 100% if it’s our logo.