The Unmarked Man

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          I don’t begrudge anyone doing something that makes them feel good about themselves, and tattoos are the epitome of that definition. I know a lot people that have tattoos, some to what I would consider to be an extreme degree, but hey—it’s their body and these tats probably have deep personal meaning, or at least they should. I’d hate to think that somebody did something this permanent on a trendy whim. In a way, I envy this kind of commitment because there isn’t a single thing on Earth that I feel so strongly about that I would pay someone to draw it on my neck with a needle. Judging by the number of tattoos I see (and many I probably don’t) I’m beginning to wonder if my lack of a single tattoo is some sort of personal failing on my part—perhaps a failure to express my commitment to, say, Celtic and Chinese symbols, sports teams, zoo animals or American manufacturers of motorcycles.

          Recently, Miss America pageant contestant, Theresa Vail, made the news because she didn’t attempt to hide her tattoos. I’m not sure how she could. She had the miss-kansas-theresa-vail-tattoo-bikini-fuserenity prayer scribbled along the entire right side of her torso and the insignia for the U.S. Army Dental Corp on her left shoulder. I was shocked by this. Who knew the Army had a dental corp? Do they also have a podiatry corp?

          I tend to be wary of fashion, especially fashion that would be inked several layers beneath my skin. I came of age in the early 70s; a decade that was not very kind to people who have prayed hard that every single photograph taken during those years would go up in flames. Our worst sins in those days were bad hair, weird clothes and glasses larger than pie plates, which were all easily fixed with a haircut and a trip to the mall. Ink lasts forever, just like pictures on Facebook, and I have to wonder what will happen when the cool wears off of fashion tattoos. Call me crazy, but Justin Bieber Twittering his newest badass panther tattoo should have been the first nail in the coffin of tattoo coolness.

            I don’t have any earrings either, so it should go without saying that I don’t have any other piercings that could frustrate a TSA agent. Again, this isn’t a judgment call against men that do, but I could never see myself as a guy with a diamond stud in whichever earlobe it is that doesn’t mean I like to dance with men. I will however pass critical judgment on guys that have those circular ear gauges with gigantic hoops inside their earlobes that are so big you could jump a trained poodle through one, so pay attention, Mr. Droopy Earlobe Guy. This is for you:

            Outside of that dank little store that sells used vinyl records, everybody thinks you’re nuts, and I mean batcrap crazy. Your earlobes creep people out, and when you 450631-43216-24stick your head out the window of your ironic Plymouth Horizon at Starbucks to mumble your order at the menu board, you look like a basset hound. A clumsy basset hound that got his ears caught in a drill press. I know you haven’t given much thought to what it might be like to be seventy years old with giant holes in your already droopy seventy-year old earlobes, but here’s a thought: By the time you’re that age, it’ll take barrettes to keep those things out of your soup.

          Body modifications aside, I’ve probably been more conservative with fashion than most, but I have just cause. There are still some photos of me from 1973 wearing platform shoes, a velvet bow tie and pleated pants with a big, fat cuff. Somewhere in my house, there’s also a photo album with a picture of my wife and me on our honeymoon. We’re coming down the gangplank of a cruise ship and there I am wearing a pair of corduroy Magnum P.I. nutter shorts with my T-shirt tucked in. Add a pair of suspenders and white gloves and I’d be Mickey Mouse and the sad thing is—I wasn’t the only one dressed like that.

I call the left one Sundance and the right one Butch.

          Ever since then, I have gone completely conservative with my fashion choices. After letting that honeymoon picture sink in, my fashion goal became having any pictures taken of me in nineteen-whatever look exactly the same as one taken last week. Some may call this boring, but I’m thinking along a different path. I call it the best gift that I could ever give to my daughter and my eventual grandchildren.

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©Rick Garvia 2013.   This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Electronic or print reproduction, adaptation, or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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