Sunday, January 12, 2014


I do not have a tattoo. I will never have one. Yes, this is a “never” I can say with certainty. I hear getting inked can be painful. I do not need to investigate this. Rumor of pain is enough of a deterrent. I have an intense aversion to such a feeling and thus I have come to terms with the fact that I will never get Amy Winehouse permanently etched on my upper arm. It is not much of a hardship. I do not have an urge to identify myself with a singer, a snake, a rose, MOM or some sort of chain-link design. (Call it a hunch, but I don’t imagine tat artists are so skilled with otters, cauliflower or a group shot of the cast of The Golden Girls. Yes, even if I wandered in a tattoo parlor in a drunken state, I would remain an ink virgin. I don’t do Bea Arthur. SLAM!)

So no tattoo for me. My skin will only be covered with SPF 45 and cotton.

My regard for tattoos on others has evolved. I grew up in a conservative, reserved family during the 1970s. Tattoos were for radicals. Prisoners. People who still saw Jane Fonda movies. Extras in “Easy Rider”. If anyone let a tattoo show, I was trained to look away. No telling how many times I saved myself from being stabbed to death.

I imagine that long-tatted folks are horrified by how commonplace getting inked has become. In the rural, artsy/blue collar area where I live, a tattoo is no longer the requisite accessory for driving a motorcycle; rather, it is the perfect companion to driving a pickup truck. And everyone drives a pickup. (This is yet another reason why I am the default answer to the local version of One of These Things Is Not like the Others. I am the misfit with my plain ol’ silver Honda Civic. There are perks however. I can easily spot my vehicle in any parking lot. No need for a hot pink paint job.)

It has taken time, but I am finally in a state of mind where I no longer see someone with a tattoo and think he is planning to overthrow the government or lace my latté with LSD. (Is LSD a liquid? I don’t feel a need to Google. It might be scary.) I work with people with tattoos. My cousin has a tat. (An ankle butterfly. Yes, we are related.) I appreciate the fact that a tattoo can make a statement, even add to one’s identity. The tattoo is no longer taboo.

But as with everything, I think some people take inking too far. Indeed, excessive inking can make an attractive person look utterly unappealing. I may be in the minority, but I feel that way about David Beckham. This man is almost universally lusted over. He is one fine man. Or he was. A few tats? Fine. But he kept going. Why distract from perfection? I still find his face attractive, but that’s it. In the coming year, he may cover his cheeks and forehead with tatted leopard spots and then all will be lost.
A more current rendition of Adam Levine.

Adam during his minimalist phase.

Same for Adam Levine. He’s not Sexiest-Man-Alive worthy, but he certainly caught my eye when I first saw the video for “This Love”. Beautiful. Now he, like Beckham, is the living, breathing version of a hoarder’s house. Tattoo clutter.

No matter how much you love dragons, NO MORE TCHOTCHKES!

All this came to mind again Friday night as I went to the gym to squeeze in a mediocre end-of-week workout. As gyms in January are clogged with well-intentioned resolution makers, this promised to be a rare moment when I wouldn’t have to wait for any weights or machines. Despite my fatigue, I changed into my gear and went. The alternatives, 8 p.m. bedtime or ever-syndicated “Hogan’s Heroes”, were not compelling. Sometimes depressing can be a motivator.

As I walked into the gym, a guy wearing a school-bus-colored thong tank worked his triceps. His back was fully inked as were his arms. He turned to reveal a work in progress as pectoral tats reached toward his neck. I looked away, not based on a fear of being knifed—indeed, you can’t hide weaponry in a thong tank. I turned because that’s what you do when you see a train wreck.

Moments later, I peeked. (Another train wreck behavior.) I saw his face and it registered that this was a guy I lusted over only a year ago. Best looking man at the gym. Back then, he’d had a tattoo on each of upper arms that he flashed when he wore regular tank tops. I actually liked the designs he’d chosen, but I appreciated how his perfect biceps weren’t covered. I’d tried repeatedly to make eye contact with the guy but never succeeded. And now here was this “new, improved” version of the man. All sex appeal gone. At least to this beholder, he was utterly ruined.

What do you think? Do you prefer old David or new David, old Adam or new Adam? How about Ricky Martin? I know many guys like tattoos, but is there a point when it becomes excessive? What is the turning point? How does someone with a fondness for ink know when to say when?


canoetoo said...

I am so with you on the 'too many ugly tattoos' question. Fortunately in the winter, most are covered up. But in the summer not a day goes by that I don't see some guy or gal and wonder: "What were they thinking?" And, yes, I agree that Adam Levine looked way more attractive before he got carried away with the ink.

That said, I have to confess that I have a single tattoo. I got it about ten years ago which I thought meant that the tattooing craze was about to end. It's about four inches long on my right calf. As for the pain. It didn't hurt as much as I feared it might, but it sure hurt more than I hoped it would. I will not be getting another.

Rural Gay said...

Congrats on making it through the tattooing process. Do they hand out lollipops at the end? You can bet I'd buy myself one if they didn't come as party favors. I would need something to lick other than my (pretty) wound.

Rick Modien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Modien said...

No to old David, and no to new David (I don't find him attractive at all).

Yes to old Adam, and no to new Adam (although his face is stunningly beautiful).

Yes to old Ricky, no to new Ricky (another stunning beauty).

I'm very turned on by a simple, discreet tat in the right place, on the right guy. I can especially get into the vine around a bulging bicep. Otherwise, forget it.

You are not alone, RG. I couldn't agree more with you.

Rural Gay said...

Hey, Rick. My parents always said, "Everything in moderation." It's always served as suitable guideline (as long as we're not talking ice cream).