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Got Tat, Too?

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Got Tat, Too?

Before I go on, let me say this: tattoos can be pretty cool, but for a few minor details.

Roughly a thousand years ago, as I climbed upon a bar stool one very early afternoon to pester our barkeep out of a quarter for the pool table, “Man, that’s a mean lookin’ bruise! Do you have older brothers too?” blurted out of my pie hole at the crusty patron next to me with his cigarettes rolled up in his t-shirt sleeve, exposing a rather ugly, black fuzzy splotch on his left shoulder. My being a pre-teen, with two older brothers of my own who each had a flair for arm slugging, gave me a sense of shared sympathy for anyone else in the same predicament.

Even though I’d said it with compassion and an extra pinch of empathy for such a nasty welt so visible in short sleeve weather, I got in return, along with a refreshing spritz of beer spray, “Hell NO, boy! That’s my Navy tattoo. Got it in the Philippines back in ’43.”

I quickly did my math, then put my shoes back on and responded, “Whadit look like when you weren’t so old?”

At that point, I was relieved of my perch by a look that could have easily cured jerky. For a while, it even removed the moisture behind my ears.

After that exchange of words, I became a part-time student of aged ‘tats’, the reasons for them and the ravages of life that make them less desirable than when they were applied. 

I once had a friend who wanted a Harley so bad he took a shotgun to his truck’s exhaust in a vain attempt to make it sound as “bad-assed” as the hog that had previously gone rumbling by with his ex-squeeze firmly attached to its behind, knees riding high on the operator’s ribcage, hair flowing in the wind and both sporting rebellious looking new tattoos on their arms. My friend was so jealous of the effect this had on his self-esteem that he inadvertently removed eighty-five percent of his muffler and twenty percent of his spare tire with a single round from a twelve gauge pump.

Shaking his head and flinging little lead BB’s from his ample locks, he dug into his wallet for a picture of his ex, jumped in his truck and headed for the nearest tattoo parlor, his dragging muffler adding an off-key accompaniment to the raw machismo of his newly unobstructed exhaust. I could have stopped him but his shotgun was empty and he knew it.

A few days later, I dropped by for an update and a beer, eventually getting around to, “So where’s yer tat?” 

“I can’t show ya, it’s where the sun don’t shine unless I’m skinny dipping! Had to pay triple on account of the location.”

“Why on earth would you have your ex’s face tattooed on yer butt?” I inquired for research purposes.

“So that every time I sit on the toi…”

“Jeeze, never mind!!!” I screamed, trying to rid my mind of the visuals coming up. “Have you thought this through, or at least part way? Like as far as your next relationship maybe?”

“Only as far as the toilet part. I was upset, so my ego took over for a few hours,” he said with his eyebrows crumpled, obviously now thinking about the possibility of his next love affair. He finished with, “Maybe I can have it turned into an ‘eight ball’ or the dark side of the moon. You know how I like Pink Floyd,” rubbing his butt in serious concentration and, by his expression, gauging his own I.Q.

I couldn’t argue with that much logic, having been taught that “one pain in the butt is usually followed by another of equal or greater value,” so I gave him a hand with his new muffler and helped him drink his beer.  

Not escaping my attention over the years of paying it, are the similarities between new tattooees and new boat owners, giddy over joining a club (of sorts), then realizing later, in moments of clarity, that their discretionary spending suddenly has an anchor attached to it. One thing leads to another and decorating your body is not an exception but a poster child for this adage.

I’d better be careful here, as many people I know and care about have tats and are quite proud of them, at least outwardly. But, a few don’t yet belong to this group of the population and these are whom I talk to now; the rest of you may go, it’s too late for this to make much sense.

The one most startling statistic my eyes stumbled over during the research phase of this dissertation is that 50 percent of those who get tatted say they would like to get them removed! Now, that’s a peculiarly high figure for something so wildly popular, especially when you consider the fact that a full 98 percent of the human race would sooner eat hot charcoal before admitting to a wrong choice.

If you buy a boat and, of course, all the crap needed for a safe and groovy voyage, then decide you’d possibly bought just a smidge (measured in feet of boat) outside of your income bracket, causing ‘love spats’ and budgetary argumentation usually resulting in “For Sale” signs and ads in the papers to dump your dream on the open market, where you might see as much as 40 percent of your expenditure return home, you will become a member of yet another group of consumers: the ‘buyer’s remorse group.’ A very large group indeed.

Knowing that the U.S. economy is based largely on stupid expenditures and, one day soon if not already, will be protected from slanderous truths and their consequences, I’ll mention Christmas only once, as this label will soon be replaced with “Save the Economy Month.”

Anyone out there thinking of getting or giving a tattoo for the holidays put your hands up. 

Thank you, that’s plenty! Those with your hands up can read on.

In the interest of saving ink, I’m not going into all the gory details of the possible health effects likely to not cross your mind before it’s too late. But I will mention the important ones. Googled individually in relation to tattoos, they make for interesting reading.

Hepatitis C & B (from less than sterile conditions and not just the needles used).

Allergic reactions (sometimes years later).

Inflammation from sun exposure.

Keloids and granulomas.

NTM or nontuberculosis mycobacteria.

Exposure to toxic chemicals in inks like lead, cadmium, chromium, titanium, dibutyl phthalates and, not least of all, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PHA’s) of which, benzopyrene is considered the most dangerous, one of its favored tasks being growing tumors in test animals. After that, mull this over.

Migration of toxins through aging, fading (sun) and attempted removal.

Also of interest, or should be, are these items.

Ink compositions are proprietary secrets of their manufacturers and are not currently regulated by the FDA. 

Alcohols (ethyl, denatured, isopropyl, methyl) used to disinfect and as a conditioner (carrier) of inks, is actually a ‘promoter,’ working synergistically with mutagens, teratogens and carcinogens, making them more likely to cause harm.

Other ink carriers include ethylene glycol (antifreeze, which is toxic), witch hazel, glycerine, propylene glycol and Listerine.

Removal (for the 50 percent) will set you back WAY beyond what you paid for the privilege of club membership. It varies wildly, as do tattoos themselves, from 100 to 300 dollars per square inch and apparently is highest where colors are involved.

  So, before you go get yourself branded with something that has a 50/50 chance of being a big mistake, pay a little visit to www.realself.com/tattoo-removal/reviews for a bit (or a lot) of reflection by those going through the process of getting rid of theirs. This is important, as it’s the last I have to say on the matter. 

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Scott Clawson Scott Clawson No, he's not the electrician, he's the OTHER Scott Clawson, who's a quality builder when he's not busy busting a gut while writing his humor column for the first issue of each month, or drawing his Acres n' Pains cartoons.

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Acres n Pains, tattoo, tattoos

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