Tattooed: To Be or Not to Be?

John T Jones, Ph.D.

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When sailors came home from World War II many had tattoos. Usually they were acquired in San Diego. They liked to show them to us teenagers and hide then from adults.

I don’t have a tattoo. I was raised in Tattoo Tabooville, Utah. One mustn’t deface the Temple of God.

Well, let’s face the truth here. Getting a tattoo is not painless and I’m a coward when it comes to pain. I’m not self-conscious about this. My wife says that all men are cowards when it comes to pain. She says this whenever she cuts my hair. (She uses the clip and jerk method. )

I would not be accepted in parts of society because I don’t have a tattoo. This is called peer pressure. I wouldn’t be accepted anyway because they don’t accept bearded old geezers either. Anyway, I understand why teenagers get tattooed.

I like to look at tattoos as an art form. Not all tattoos; the ones done in Japan and by certain “true” artist in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and of course, San Diego. .

Last night, my wife and I were watching Fear Factor. One rudely-treated contestant had a new tattoo that said “Fear Factor. ” It was very decorative and covered his forearm.

He pooped out on the first daredevil task which was swinging on a rope from one elevated platform to another and then to another. He was left hanging dry between the first two platforms and didn’t have a clue as to how to get out of his predicament. He was booed away by the Los Vegas crowd.

That brings us to the first consideration on whether you should have or not have a tattoo: Tattoos may bring you bad luck and undesirable publicity.

He was just a clueless kid with an arrogant attitude, piercings, and tattoos. That is why he was booed. His failure was disheartening to him, more than I suspected it would be, but he promised to become arrogant again “tomorrow. ”

So today, I guess he is back to normal.

I was giving some counseling to a youth in detention years back. His mother had asked me to look after him. (I’m not talking about school detention here. This was what we use to call “Reform School. ”)

The boy was having his tattoos removed.

That brings the second consequence of having tattoos. It hurts like hell to have them removed by a medical professional.

Having the tattoos removed helped this boy get out of the “joint” and back to his single mother.

If you’ve got ‘em, you’d better keep ‘em. Is that a motto for you tattoo guys and gals? It could be if you want to avoid removal pain.

The reason that some people would like to have a tattoo removed is this. They sometimes change with time.

Joe Fleet got a tattoo of a dinghy on his chest when he was 19 years old serving in the United States Navy. He got his tattoo in San Diego, “Tattoo Heaven. ”

On the side of the dinghy it read, “Mary, ” in tiny letters.

Now Joe Fleet is 76 years old and weighs 240 pounds. What was a dinghy is now an aircraft carrier and the little word, “Mary, ” now looks like a billboard spread.

Joe’s wife’s name is Joan.

Now Joe Fleet is not going to have this tattoo removed. The chest is a tender spot. That brings us to another facet of tattoos: Sometimes you just have to live with them.

Joe finally got around part of his problem by getting a puppy. He said to his wife, Joan, “I’m going to call her “Mary” after my childhood puppy dog that fell out of my little boat and died by drowning in the irrigation ditch. ”

Joe's wife, Joan, forgetting that puppies can doggy paddle, felt awful that she had been badgering Joe about “Mary” for 55 years. She begged Joe for his forgiveness.

This technique used by Joe, and at times by other tattoo-bearing people, is called lying.

I was on business in San Francisco back in the 1970s. I went into a theater in Chinatown. The movies were Japanese. One was about a tattoo artist covering a young woman’s body with beautiful, masterful tattoos.

She moaned with every prick of his ink needle.

I don’t know how the movie ended because my mother taught me not to stick around in any movie that is “not of good report. ” When the girl got excited, I had to leave.

Now days I see right here in Idaho a lot of what are called “Tattoo Freaks. " That means the whole body is covered with tattoos like the Japanese lass.

Of course these folks are not freaks.

I’m going to look “freak” up in the dictionary.

I’ll be right back.

Okay, I guess I was wrong.

I talk to these heavily-tattooed young folks at times. They all seem very normal to me. They just like tattoos.

I don’t hear people here in Idaho complaining about tattoos unless they are combined with piercing. Folks here complain about triple-ear piercing, nose piercing, lip piercing, navel piercing (umbilicus piercing), and tongue piercing. There may be other piercing in undisclosed locations.

Our church leader say that a single piercing in each ear is just right. That does not apply to boys. The number there is zero.

We members of our church frown on new tattoos but accept old ones; especially if you were in the Navy and stationed in San Diego.

What would tattoo artist do if tattoos went out of style? Some of these artists do piercing too. What if both procedures were no longer wanted? What would happen to these artist? (Okay, they are not all artist. Some are copyist. )

Well, they might take up Slindogging when it’s invented.

John T. Jones, Ph. D. (, a retired VP of R&D for Lenox China, is author of detective & western novels, nonfiction (business, scientific, engineering, humor), poetry, etc. Former editor of Ceramic Industry Magazine. He calls himself “Taylor Jones, the hack writer. "

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