Love is Poison

LOVE IS POISON- These were the three large words staring me in the face as I waited in the customer service line at supermarket one day last week.
Where were these three distressing words exposed?? Well it wasn’t on a movie poster, or on the back of a new cereal box or on a t-shirt. The three words that were glaring me in the face were tattooed on a young woman’s back. That’s right “LOVE IS POISON” was permanently marked on someone’s body.

I have had this ongoing feud with myself for a few years now on the whole subject of tattooing. Growing up the only person I knew who had a Tattoo was my Grandfather, he was in the Air Force and had the Air Force Emblem tattooed on his arm. While I never asked, I imagined him getting the Tattoo while he was on leave in some far off land right before he was to put his life on the line. To me that was cool. As I got older and the anti-war sentiment grew larger, people who got tattoos seemed to change (in my mind anyway). It seemed only sailors, bikers and assorted deviants had tattoos. I never found them appealing and could never understand why someone would want one. But that was o.k. because they were never really mainstream and not really that popular.

But one day, recently, I woke up and noticed the whole world seemed to have them. Everywhere I went people had tattoos on all parts of their bodies. So much so, that on some people I couldn’t even see their skin. Now most of the people I saw with tattoos didn’t seem like sailors, bikers or assorted deviants, in fact many of them were your run-of-the-mill-regular-people.
So if they were not any of the above I have to ask myself…WHY?….well in a recent Harris Poll among Americans with tattoos, 34% said having a tattoo has made them feel sexier. Interestingly, more tattooed females (42%) feel this way than males (25%).

Additionally, those with tattoos said that having a tattoo has made them feel more rebellious (29%) while others said a tattoo makes them feel more attractive (26%). But tattoos apparently won’t do much for your intelligence or your physique, as few Americans reported that tattoos make them feel more intelligent (5%), more healthy (4%), or more athletic (3%).

Now compare this with the folks who do not have tattoos and according to the same poll they think that people with tattoos are less attractive (42%), less sexy (36%) and less intelligent (31%). They also think that those with tattoos are more rebellious (57%). In contrast, only 29% of those with tattoos think they are more rebellious.

So is it all in the eye of the beholder?? Maybe…but what we all think is attractive at age 21 might not be the same as when we are 51. Do you remember your first apartment or dorm room? Do you remember using milk crates for shelves and wine boxes to hold your cd’s, records or 8 track tapes? That was so cool!! Right?? Well to me the same can apply to tattoos. The milk crates and wine boxes were eventually replaced by leather couches and other more modern furniture. But what about the tattoos? They are pretty much on for life. What a younger person might think is “cool”or “sexy” now, might be there worst nightmare in twenty years. Can you imagine if you HAD to wear your favorite 1973 leisure suit for life???

But if we look back I think we were all involved in some kind of fad. From Zoot Suits, to flag pole sitting, long hair in the 60’s, sex in the 70’s, punk rock in the 80’s, cocaine in the 90’s, disco, pot, Beanie Babies…. you name it, we had it. But what does it say about our society today that we embrace something so popular and yet so permanent at the same time. For my 45 + year old brother his 2nd tattoo came in 2004, the year the Red Sox finally broke their 86 year World Series drought. For the rest of his life he will have story to tell about the day he got the Red Sox emblem tattooed on his leg. I guess for many people getting a tattoo is a way of telling a story about them, yet people change, stories change and we get old and mature. Do we really want the same story told over and over again? While you might want the world to know that the greatest event in your life was the day you got married; what if it turns out many years later that the greatest day in your life was the day you got divorced!!

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