When I was a kid, the only people who had tattoos were sailors who’d gotten drunk on shore leave. A heart with a girl’s name in it was about as risqué as most of them got. The adventuresome might have a girl in a hula skirt who danced when they flexed their muscles.
Normal, nice, everyday people did not mark up their bodies with tattoos. If you wanted to see something like that you had to go to a faraway island, or read about it in National Geographic.
Not any more. Why I was down at the Big D for lunch today and the young man working the cash register had a big old dragon twining up his left forearm. Of course, the key word associated with all the tattooing is “young.” Most of the people my age know better than to get a tattoo this late in the game. Probably because there aren’t many tattoo patterns that look good on wrinkled skin sprinkled with age spots.
And that’s the problem.
I won’t be around to see it, but I project–if there are still humans on this planet–that by 2060 there’s going to be a lot of saggy tattoos on display. It won’t be a pleasant sight.
This whole tattoo phenomenon puzzled me until I read an article about how when you’re young, you can’t see yourself beyond your current age. It was a moment of blinding insight. I remembered being that young once, never dreaming one day I’d look in the mirror and see my grandmother looking back.
When you’re young, you think only of the here and now. No one thinks of the future, old self. That boy at the Big D saw the dragon tattoo, liked it and had it permanently implanted in his skin. As far as he’s concerned, he’ll always be nineteen years old and his tattoo will always look like it does now. He doesn’t realize he’ll be washing that awesome dragon tattoo for the next oh, 60-70 years. Or that its awesomeness will wear thin.
Nor does he suspect that someday in the distant future his awesome dragon will become a dragging dragon.