Skin as Canvas

Posted: May 28, 2007 12:01 AM
Skin as Canvas

It seems that the late Lord Charles Beresford was such a devotee of fox hunting, he had a hunting scene tattooed across his buttocks.

I’m guessing that most people would agree that Lord Charles gives new meaning to English eccentricity. But who knows? At the rate the rest of you are getting yourselves tattooed, I may soon be the only person in America who hasn’t gone under the needle. And, quite frankly, I’d like to know what you folks could possibly be thinking.

Did you all get that drunk while next door to a tattoo parlor? The pain and the cost aside, what exactly is your message? What am I to make of the inky hearts, roses, and barbed wire, with which you’ve decided to adorn your bodies?

The tattoos that most confound me are those I see on black basketball players. I’m afraid that whatever the designs and messages NBA stars are toting around on their arms and torsos are lost on me. Blue and purple simply don’t register on dark skin. They look like Rorschach ink blots, as if instead of having the work done by a tattoo artist, the work was jobbed out to Jackson Pollack wannabes, who had the athletes lie on the floor while they dripped paint on them.

I once wrote a MASH episode in which little Radar O’Riley decided to change his image by getting himself a tattoo, after, of course, first fortifying himself with a couple of shots of Grape Nehi. Hawkeye and B.J. tried to talk him out of his goofy plan, with Hawkeye pointing out the idiocy of putting banal artwork on one’s body that one would never think of hanging on one’s wall.

In the old days, there were only a few types of people who went in for tattoos. They were young sailors, three sheets to the wind while on shore leave; guys in prison; and jungle savages. These days, it’s women, perhaps even more than men, who seem to have it done. Don’t ask me why. I refuse to believe that Angeline Jolie is totally responsible for this widespread lunacy, but she can’t escape all culpability. I mean, I’ve never even seen her in a movie, and even I know that she covered her body like a billboard proclaiming eternal devotion to Billy Bob Thornton, whom she now refers to as old what’s-his-name.

You don’t even want to think about the pain and money it’s cost her to have all vestiges of Billy Bob removed from her body parts. It’s probably easier and cheaper to restore Baghdad.

And keep in mind that, unlike art masterworks, an investment in these things doesn’t increase over the years. On the contrary, down the road a piece, today’s roses are going to end up looking a lot like acorns.

Finally, it’s mere conjecture on my part, you understand, but I suspect that Lady Beresford had a little tattoo of her own, which read “I’m With Stupid.”