"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Which tattoo are you?

When I was growing up, the only people who had tattoos were WWII vets, old Navy men with anchors and dolphins on their hairy, tanned forearms, or hearts and stars on their bulging biceps.
I remember how those tattoos would grab a young boy’s attention, because you only saw them when the vets would roll up their sleeves, and how he’d wonder about the pictures on their arms.
Then there were years when you saw few tattoos, except perhaps skulls, and daggers and such like on the arms of Hell’s Angels. Even Vietnam didn’t cause a return of the fad. Tattoos faded on the arms of veterans as the years went by and they became scarce.
Not these days.
Now you commonly see them adorning the arms of pro athletes and an increasing number of young women and men. They range from ornate designs to strands of barbed wire to butterflies, flowers and intricate artwork. There are even magazines showing people with tattoos all over their bodies, reminiscent of Ray Bradbury’s story, The Illustrated Man, where a traveler’s tattoos come to life.
What’s the most unusual tattoo you’ve seen?
If you had a tattoo, what would it be?
Or as Facebook would put it, what tattoo are you?
Where would you have it placed?
I wonder about all these smooth-skinned young women with tattoos on their arms, shoulders, ankles, abdomens, and backs. What are those things going to look like when age sets in? Will the butterflies be wrinkled with age? Will the butterfly near the navel swell with pregnancy or obesity? Will liver spots mar the images on the hands? Will varicose veins in the ankles crack the barbed wire ankle bracelet? Will the colors change as the old flesh sags?
I think the most intriguing places I’ve seen for tattoos are in the small of the back—revealed by the hip hugging jeans and bare midriffs, and the back of the neck.
Which brings me back to my questions.
I think if I got a tattoo, it’d be a grizzly bear’s track. But I’m not sure where I’d put it.
Maybe on my forehead, as the hairline recedes. I thought about near my navel, but as I get fatter, it would probably look like a mutant liver spot. Actually, I’d probably put in on the top of my left hand, where my protruding veins would distort it.
What about you? To help you out, I’ve come up with a list of tattoos, and certain well-know people. Which tattoo would go with each person, and where would it be placed? Mix or match, but use your imagination.
Cactus. Cross. Hot Air Balloon. Rock. Cat. Pit Bull. Open Mouth. Dollar sign. Rose. Brain. Snake. Skunk. Lemon. Trash Can. Upturned nose. Corvette. Yugo. Football. Chicken. Crooked stick.
You get the idea. Now the people, and the places? A couple of hints:
Clinton—all right, all right, keep it clean.
Madonna—a trash can? Frank Keating—dollar signs? Yeah, I know, you could put more than one on some of these people. Republicans—broken hearts? Bush—a D- ? OU fans—footballs! OSU fans—a wishing well? Democrats—fisticuffs? Rush Limbaugh—forked tongue? Oklahoma legislature—a dinosaur? Obama—a golden tongue?
What about others? Billy Graham? Hillary? Sean Connery? Bill Gates? Harrison Ford? Oprah? Your favorite or least favorite people?
Clark—a coffee pot?
And you?


  1. I would be a skull... because they are awesomeness.

  2. I have several tattoos. They are addictive. My latest, is from SxSWi 2009, and is a barcode on the back of my neck....truly scannable from a real book-Dead in Dallas. All of my tattoos are custom art and represent a turning point in life. Also, as a female and very aware of body issues, I put mine in places where it will be desireable as I age...at least, I hope.

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  4. I would have mine removed in a heartbeat. Don't worry...it isn't of anything bad and is tastefully located.


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