As a recent transplant to Arkansas from California, I have noticed that I am surrounded by lots and lots of tattoos. The men of Arkansas have this in common with the men in the books I read. Come to think of it, so do most of the women. I have also noticed that the Arkansas tattoos bring out a completely different response from me than from when I am reading about the tattooed heroes in my books. Immortal warriors with tattoos are sexy. Drunken tattooed louts floating down the river, not so much.
When I was in California I also saw tattoos. Mostly they were gang tattoos. I was at a print shop once and the young man next to me had "Fuck you" tattooed on his neck. I saw that he was driving a really nice car. I wanted to ask him what he did for a living, that he could have a job, drive a nice car, and have "Fuck you" on the side of his neck. But I figured he was either a drug dealer or a gang banger, and he would not hesitate to kill me just for asking.
I told my girlfriend, Mickey, this same story. She said that she always wanted to have the words "Fuck you" tattooed on her body, but she wanted it on her knuckles. A letter on each finger. She works in a grocery store, and when she gets really pissed off, she wants to make each hand into a fist, and with a tilt of the wrists, the words "Fuck you" will present themselves to whomever has pissed her off. I thought this was a great idea. She was afraid she would get fired if she actually tattooed herself with those words, so she just dreamed about actually doing it. However, we found that we don't need the words tattooed there. Just making the fist gestures reminds us of what we want to say. It's almost as good as giving someone the finger.
Anyway, back to Arkansas. It seems that the most common tattoo here, for men, is having your own name tattooed somewhere on you back or arms. I surmise that there is so much drinking that goes on here, that when the young man passes out, the tattoo is the best way to find out who they are and where they live. Most of the women here have the "tramp stamp". Lots of butterflies. The Arkansas tattoos do not usually inspire fear in me like the "fuck you" tattoo did... or the tear under the eye. Someone told me that the tear meant you had killed someone. I played soccer with a woman who had a tear and I asked her who she had killed. (She was not bigger than me, so I was confident I could take her in case she came after me). She told me it was in remembrance of her son who died. I asked her what kind of job she did that she could have that tattoo. She cleaned houses. I guess if you know what job you are going to do, and you are going to do it for a long time, it is okay to get the tear, or even "fuck you" tattooed on your face or neck.
My mother hates tattoos. They remind her of ignorance and those she has tried to distance herself from for most of her life. She thinks that when you get old, the tattoos will sag and look even worse than they already do. (Three of her kids have tattoos, including me.) Most women who get tattoos do not look like Angelina Jolie or the scores of Hollywood starlets who manage to make tattoos look edgy and sexy. I saw a woman at the WalMart last week who had her back fat tattooed with tribal symbols. I wondered if she was thin when she got the tattoos, and if she had just let herself go... or if she specifically asked for her back fat to be tattooed. I have often wondered if I had my thighs tattooed, would it eliminate the appearance of my cellulite, or would it just make it more noticeable. I think the woman in WalMart answered my question.
While I was in Puerta Vallarta last year, all the players had temporary tattoos of soccer balls put on their ankles. One of the girls also had the words "Lick Me" (temporarily) tattooed bellow her bellybutton. This was a great tattoo and one that I am thinking about tattooing there permanently, after all, a gentle reminder is sometimes nice.
Before anyone gets a tattoo, You should probably consider the following: 1) If you are male, hot and look like a vampire warrior, get as many tattoos as you like. You can always find work as a romance novel cover model. 2) If you look like Angelina Jolie, the same thing applies. 3) If you choose to go forward with a tattoo, do not get anything too trendy. How many men have you seen with the barbed wire tattoo, and you immediately think Pamela Anderson. 4) If you have your lover's name tattooed on your body, make sure it really will be for ever. 5) Remember, you need to work and make money, so don't do anything that will keep you from your dream (or supporting your family). 6) Don't get creepy tattoos. There was an old man at the Soccer Center who had a tattoo of a naked woman in chains on his leg. I periodically search through the Megan's Law data base to see if he is in there, and I definitely don't let my son call him "Grandpa". 7) Don't get tattoos while you are in prison 8) Tats are like relationships - you really shouldn't commit to one until you're thirty. 9) Prioritize: Dental work, baby formula, and pretty much everything else should come before a tattoo. 10) Practice restraint: You may think the naked woman sitting in a martini glass with her pussy hanging out is artistic, but it probably won't get you laid (immortal warriors know this and so should you).
Rules 1 and 2 trump any of the other rules. (Although Angelina did go through a rather painful tattoo removal process when she got dumped by Billy Bob. So you may want to always rethink having your lover's name tattooed on your body.)
Lest anyone who knows me think me a hypocrite, I will come clean. I have many tattoos and I am in violation of at least three of the rules noted above. It's a good thing I look like Angelina Jolie.