Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Staid Republican Eyebrow Piercing

One winter back in college I went on a couple of dates with a man I’d met through a mutual friend. Nice guy, nice looking . . . definite sparks that kindled when we met.

Now let me think — since I’ve mentioned sparks and kindling what’s a good metaphor to describe the beginning of our fourth and final date? Something involving huge amounts of water, a stockpile of non-flammable materials and a complete lack of anything combustible. Perhaps I’ll think of the right analogy later. Meanwhile, let me tell you why I stopped dating that guy: winter ended. Temperatures rose so much that he switched from a wool sweater on date three to a short-sleeved shirt on date four. That’s when I learned he had tattoos covering every square inch of his arm above his wrist.

I've never cared for tattoos. I’ve overlooked one or two in boyfriends past, but a man whose entire arm sports every color in a Crayola box definitely falls into the let’s-be-friends category.

Lucky for both of us that we met near the end of winter. Suppose we’d met at the beginning instead! If temperatures had remained low for a few dates more, my spark-drenching first glimpse of his bare forearms could’ve come in a considerably more awkward context.

Of course, my dislike of tattoos is merely a matter of taste. And my taste is out of date, according to this MSNBC article about corporate dress codes, which are changing these days in response to the growing numbers of people who have tattoos and body art.
Colleen Harris doesn’t fit the stereotype of the buttoned-up librarian. Her arms are covered with a pirate queen motif and black scrolling designs, which extend down the side of her body to her ankle. A black rose and the words “Dangerous Magic” adorn the back of her left hand, and the words “Anam Cara” (old Gaelic for “soul friend”) letter her knuckles. . . . The face of the young American worker is changing, and it’s increasingly decorated with ink and metal. About half of people in their 20s have either a tattoo or a body piercing other than traditional earrings, according to a study published in June in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. That figure, which is higher than the national average, is growing.
To summarize the rest of the article: some companies are willing to hire employees with visible tattoos and piercings. Others aren’t. The number of the former is growing along with the number of pierced, tattooed people.

Are piercings and tattoos merely a fad, or a permanent change in style? A hundred years ago a woman couldn’t wear lipstick or eye makeup without causing a scandal, but nowadays you’ll find cosmetics even on the churchgoing wives of family-values politicians. My mother used to tell me stories about her own school days, when girls’ skirts had to touch the ground when they knelt; last month I read a dress-for-business-success article advising women to keep their skirts at a modest length of no more than two or three inches above the knee.

A century from now maybe nose rings will be as conservative as small pearl stud earrings are today. Tattoos will have as much counterculture flair as navy blue business suits. First Ladies will wear tube tops and Daisy Dukes on photo ops with elementary-school children. And my photograph will be as outdated as a Victorian woman in corsets and a bustle.

Damn. I’m too young to feel that old.


Anonymous Grant Gould said...

Perhaps lacking tattoos you will soon be an icon to all the ironic, retro kids rebelling against the mainstream tattoo culture. Tattooed parents will lament your negative effect on their children. "Why can't Suzie fit in?" they will ask; "it's that tattooless hussy Feral Genius who's giving her ideas."

4:07 AM  
Anonymous Jeff P (Post Singularity Edition) said...

A century from now our cognitive array will be outboarded to a thin vapor of utility fog that envelopes us. Dress codes will exist only for full-imersion avatars. A suite of subcutaneous polymers will allow our skins to be HD displays, letting us to look like pretty much anything. Some tech-illererate folks will neglect to update their skin protocols, and will walk around in a perpetual state of grayness.
High gain antenna studs will dot our skulls.
Perceptions will be tuned, allowing you to filter out tattoos, advertising, specific people, and entire concepts.
A full 80% percent of our processing power will be dedicated to fighting off the unending timing channel attacks and sentience hacks that choke the spectrum.

9:55 AM  
Anonymous A. Moose said...

First Ladies will wear tube tops and Daisy Dukes on photo ops with elementary-school children

::insert Hillary pic here::

Dear god, the horror, the horror!!!

10:37 AM  
Anonymous smacky said...

That’s when I learned he had tattoos covering every square inch of his arm above his wrist.

I think tatoo sleeves (that's what you are referring to here) can look pretty cool on the right person, especially on guys. Whether I would date a person who had them is an entirely different question...and I would venture to say that the answer would veer towards "no". For me, it's not so much a matter of aesthetics, as I do think they sometimes look cool, but I (being the judgemental prick I can be) think it might "say something" about a person who has be nice and vague about it.

(Did that make me sound like an old-fashioned church lady?)

7:17 AM  
Anonymous smacky said...

crap, I meant "tattoo". Stupid typos.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I agree, Smacky. One or two tattoos I can overlook if I really like a guy (though I'd still prefer the tattoos not be there). But a guy who makes a long-term effort to spend enough time and money to cover every square inch of his skin. . . it's not that I have anything against such people; it's just that I, like Julian Sanchez, am not going to fuck them.

I'm very glad Jeff is tattoo-free.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Does it help if the tattoo is stupid and stupid on purpose?

My logic is that I'd only ever get a really, really dumb tattoo in memory of somebody or something like that. Something really dumb that would always make me think of that person. Reason being is that no matter what you get you'll get old and hate it you might as well start with it already being dumb to be a step ahead.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

While this guy obviously has other tatoos, he does have one really cool "stupid"
: The PERL code for a functional RSA cryptosystem. He got it when this code was restricted by our government, tbus automatically making him an Illegal Arms Exporter (pun intended) when he flew overseas.

2:59 PM  

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