does Santa have tattoos of reindeer?

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Friday, December 16, 2005
I will spare the internet from my PMS/full moon/holiday stress-bomb crackpot conspiracy theories. It was pretty ugly a couple of times today, but listening to Here Comes Fatty Claus from the John Waters Christmas album helped me reclaim some of my holiday spirit from Bill O'Asshole and the Retail Industrial Complex. The crisis seems to have passed, so many thanks to John Waters and to Blondie who brought me the CD.

Tonight I watched a show on the history of tattoos and it got me thinking about what they mean to people and why people get them. There is no one answer - I am sure there are as many reasons as there are people with tattoos. The program mentioned how they have long been used as a sort of social separator. Tattoos are a mark of otherness -they can be a form of self-separation from people who don't have them (and inclusion into groups that do have them). For example, in the early part of the last century, it was ok to gawk at the Tattooed Ladies in a freak show, but it would have been completely unacceptable for a so called respectable person to talk to (or look at) them outside of that context. How times have changed! I think in Portland there are more tattooed people than not.

I have never had the urge to mark something permanently on my body. I manage to do well enough with scars from my clumsiness, I guess. A friend recently mentioned wanting to get one (tattoo - not a scar from my clumsiness), and I gave serious thought for the first time in a long time to the question. If I got one, what would I want? Where would I put it? I really couldn't come up with much - it just isn't on my radar as a "hey, I want to do that!" thing. Plus - what a huge decision. I would dither forever. I do know what I wouldn't want, though. The program showed a typical suburban-looking girl getting a tattoo of the Tasmanian Devil on her hip. You could get anything you could think of tattooed on (FOREVER), and this is what you come up with?!? It just seems like a complete failure of imagination, especially with the preponderance of great tattoo artists.

I almost think that if I ever went to the trouble of getting one, I would just want a gigantic one of something. It is the kind of decision I could see myself making at some point in the future that would seem completely spontaneous (so unlike me) yet I would be perfectly satisfied with forever. So who knows. Maybe I WILL be one of the future generations of old ladies with saggy pictures of the Taj Mahal, ninjas or the cover art from Duran Duran's Rio on their back.
5 comments on "does Santa have tattoos of reindeer?"
  1. I watched the same program! I love looking at some of the artwork (though I agree about the Tasmanian Devil thing - actually about cartoonish looking tattoos in general). I've toyed with getting a tattoo since my days on the prairie. I like to think I probably will get one eventually. It won't be until I'm really certain that it's an image & style I want with me for the rest of my life. Of course, as indecisive as I am, it could take me that long to figure it out, but I do have some ideas.

  2. Hee hee! You were in fact the "a friend" of this post! Do you have a spot picked out for your hypothetical future tattoo? Would it be one that would be mostly covered up, or one that would show? (you don't have to answer - I am just nosy and curious, as always)

  3. Doh! I'm the friend. Who knew? I think I would get it above my ankle. I would want it somewhere where I could see it, but still cover it, if necessary. The problem is finding something I can really be sure I'll want forever, which is no easy task when you're flighty & prone to wanting things NOW & then losing interest.

  4. I think the trick is to do it when you're 16 and don't understand the consequences of "Forever and unretractable", like I did! I don't even recall how I got the idea or how I chose what to do, but I do remember lying on my friend's floor while another friend poked this wiggly looking heart just above and to the left of my right hipbone. It was so wiggly that another friend had to fix it several months later. Now I mostly forget that it's there but I'm still kind of glad I did it. It was cheesy and cliche but it made me feel independent and naughty, which can be important at that age. When I look at it, I get good memories. In later years, I knew an actual tattoo artist who scoffed at my heart and told me he'd cover it with a "real tattoo" for my birthday. By that time in my life, I had grasped the concept of "Forever and unretractable" and I could never think of anything I wanted to take with me forever and I didn't really want to cover it anyway, so it never happened.

  5. Aw, man! I like that story. I'm glad you didn't cover it up. It reminds me a little of Blondie's story about getting her ears pierced in the bathroom of a bowling alley by her best friend's mom, because her own mother refused to let her have it done.


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