Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tattoo Them

You'd think the generation, or maybe even two, before mine would be comfortable with seeing tattoos. I saw my first tattoo at eight years old when an uncle stopped by sporting a  topless woman named Tilda on his bicep. Since I was still a few years away from seeing boobs in the flesh, or at least in the pages of a magazine, I remember thinking tattoos were pretty neato. I was also the kind of wizened kid who knew tattoos were not for me, but I digress. My point being tattoos have been popular for at least forty years, maybe longer, to the point where they have become mainstream. Certainly the stigma once associated with body art has disappeared. Or has it?

Fast forward to a story I heard the other day from my niece. She's twenty and has it together -- she's in college and has worked as a waitress for three years at a fancy four-star restaurant. Recently, she was harassed while waiting a table of two couples who went out of their way to tell her she would never get a decent job with graffiti on her body. (Sidebar: Her tattoos are very tasteful and are easily covered by a blouse, but it was warm this particular day and the body art was noticeable.) So these dining buffoons take her to task and ask her if she thinks she'll ever get anywhere in the professional world with tattoos on her body. Now my niece has a lot of class and tried to be polite, answering their lame questions. As the couples continued to heckle her, she mentioned she knew several people who have tattoos and respectable jobs. They pressed for details as to what kind of professions and when she replied, they wrinkled their noses and scoffed. Nice, huh?

I asked my niece how old these jackanapes were. About sixty, she said which took me aback. I thought for sure they'd be 110. But sixty!? Seems odd for some of that generation to be so archaic in thought. Apparently these folks, who also complained about the food, had a bone to pick.

Either way, I told her if they stopped in again to give me a call and I'd verbally beat them to a pulp.

29 comments:

Ron Scheer said...

As a BTAP expert, you would certainly do a fine job of it.

I'm of an older generation who finds body art mystifying. Sometimes it is stunningly beautiful, beyond anything I'd imagine. Often, it's the opposite.

What probably gives me pause more than anything is the permanence of them, like Van Gogh cutting off his ear. Quite the novelty for a while, but then you're stuck with it for life. Part of me also has the sense that it "defaces" the body. But I certainly would never dream of forcing my prejudices on someone else. What clowns; I'll bet they stiffed her on the tip, too.

Chris said...

People who harass anyone for any reason don't get any of my respect. I don't care who they are. Opinions are fine -- I certainly have mine when it comes to some choices people make, tattoos included -- but to voice them in such a fashion displays a level of crassness I hope I never sink to.

Randy Johnson said...

Those folks sound like jerks. I'm of that generation, sixty-two, and body art doesn't bother me in the least. I've known ladies with it, have friends and relatives that have it, no big deal.

Like you, I decided long ago it wasn't my thing. As I also did for male piercings, ears, whatever, which don't bother me either.

sandra seamans said...

My only problem with tattoos is that I find it difficult to look at a person's face while talking. I'm too busy admiring the artwork. Makes me feel like one of those guys that talks to a woman's clevage. :)

David Cranmer said...

They did stiff her on the tip, Ron. And your thoughts mirror mine but you said it a lot better. Thanks.

Chris, It seems like idiots are more willing to be rude these days. Like they MUST express their opinion. Where does that come from?

That's what I'm saying, Randy. The tattoos and piercings are everywhere. I can't imagine being so moved as to be rude to a waitress.

Ha. Good morning chuckle, Sandra.

G. B. Miller said...

I've always appreciated tattoos on people, be they male or female. Didn't matter if they were tasteful or not, so long as they were well drawn.

With that being said, it was pretty stupid of those two couples to be disrespecting your neice like that.

If you have a negative opinion about something as personal as a tattoo, learn to keep it to yourself.

Not doing so will run you the risk of someone responding in an unkindly manner to your toddlerism.

On a personal note, I have complimented people on their well drawn tattoos from time to time.

Chad said...

I don't think it's so much a generational thing. I think it's more a rude thing. Some people are just assholes.

Plus--I have tattoos; they're easily covered by a short-sleeve shirt and I work in the Dean of Students Office.

pattinase (abbott) said...

You get the feeling they'd find something to criticize. As a former waitress, I can tell you many, many people find harassing wait staff fun. Even people who seem quite nice in every day life go into a restaurant determined to make their waiter run. And then leave a tip of 12%. A waiter is a good punching bag.

Mike W. said...

I agree with you David, those folks seem way to young to have such an attitude. My uncle had a tatoo from being in the navy and he'd be 77 or 78 now if he were still alive.

I'm generally not a fan of neck tatoos, I find them very distracting, but you have to respect people's choices, it's their body.

Charles Gramlich said...

I considered a tattoo in my 40s and decided against it because I couldn't find anything I wanted on my body forever. On the other hand, I can't imagine criticizing some stranger over their tats. I'd be embarrassed. I think, too, they were just that kind of people and would have found something to complain about.

David Cranmer said...

G, The problem is that no one can "learn to keep it to yourself" anymore. Everybody wants their opinion known whether it is called for or not. I know it wasn't always like this in the USA.

Chad, I'm sure, the more I think of it, that it's not a generational thing. I probably should have worded the post a bit differently.

Patti, And I bend over backwards at restaurants to be nice. If I don't like the service or food, I just don't go back.

Mike, Agreed. I never could understand neck and head tattoos but to each his own.

Charles, The permanence of it has always kept me from even remotely considering having one.

Oscar said...

I had tattoos put on my bod in 1951 as a young swabby even though it was against Navy policy. They were poorly drawn, badly done and truthfully a bad nightmare, socially and culturally the wrong thing at the time. They are still in place now, faded colors and people ask what the Hell are they? But I've never had anyone harass me about it - they might get BTAP.

Reb said...

I think tattoos can be beautiful. Until recently I have never considered having one, because I've never been able to keep my hair the same colour for longer than 6 months at a time, so...to find artwork that I could stand to have on my body forever?

Oh and if you are wondering what I have been considering lately..."No heroic measures" tattooed over my heart.

David Cranmer said...

And I bet an old swabby could beat them to a pulp. Thanks for sharing your story, Oscar.

"No heroic measures." I like that, Reb.

AC said...

Some people have bowel issues. They erroneously believe judging others will alleviate the problem. Pity they've never heard of prunes...

Dan_Luft said...

Almost 20 years ago I knew the head of the chamber of commerce for Brookline MA, a very nice suburb of Boston, he was pushing 60 then and had biker tattoos everywhere that was not covered by his suit.

I tend bar and I've heard that insult a lot. I don't think it's an age thing so much as a class struggle issue. The people who say things like that are usually the kids of blue collar parents who are attempting to enter a white collar job market (I'm generalizing but it's what I've seen). And usually only women are talked to like that.

The permanence issue doesnt bother me because a friend did mine in his living room before it was legal in my state (and it's covered by my sleeve). So mine is a signal of an old friendship. We didn't see each other for many years until we both found each other in baby play groups with our kids. He had even more tattoos than when I'd last seen him and he had a pretty good job too.

Dave King said...

This (to me) inexplicable attitude is still very prevalent, especially apropos girls and women. One day maybe...

Leah J. Utas said...

I suspect these people clawed their way up to where they are and fear being reminded of their origins. Ink reminded them and made them uncomfortable. Or they were just jerks.

Thomas Pluck said...

My last waitress had ink on her forearms, and I remember thinking it odd. Professional servers do tend to cover up, for exactly this reason. Why lose a tip from a judgmental jackass.
My father had his name on his shoulder. We always joked it was so he could remember it. I've got three little ones. Real tough guy stuff ... Pepe le pew, a little fox, and a shamrock. :)

I am judgmental. I judge people by how they treat those they consider below them, like their servers. Those two customers had no manners or class, no matter what age they were. When we forgive old folks for being ignorant, we insult all the people from their generation who were not hateful and ignorant...

Cullen Gallagher said...

My problem is a lack of creativity, compounded by indecisiveness. If I could think of something that looked good, and that I wouldn't think it stupid 2 months later, then I'd probably get a tattoo.

Ben said...

Aw man. Fuck these people. I got a forearm tattooed and it didn't prevent me from doing anything. Times are changing, values are shifting. She just fell on close minded pricks.

David Cranmer said...

AC, That may be the best response yet. Well said.

Dan, I shouldn't have dwelled on the age factor because narrow-mindedness is not exclusive to one group. And thanks for sharing your tattoo story.

Sadly true, Dave.

I'm thinking just jerks, Leah. But I like your perspective on their origins.

Thomas, Pepe le pew, a little fox, and a shamrock! I never would have guessed, tough guy. :)

How about the BEAT to a PULP logo, Cullen?

I think so, Ben. And what tattoos do you have? I'm curious, now, after Mr. Pluck's answer above.

Sarah Laurence said...

If only people would look inside rather than judge the surface.

Imani said...

It sounds like to me the couple is conceited, and quick to judge on anything and everyone. Your niece handled herself well. I would've done the same thing.

Ben said...

A paragraph from a Henry Rollins book, Get In The Van. It says: "The initial inception must be pure. All energy must be put to use. The end must never leave your sight. Complete destruction must be had. You must maintain drive that goes beyond obsession, beyond purpose, beyond reason. Every movement must be in the forward direction.When in the woods, seek the clearing. The path shines so bright it's almost blinding"

Of course, it takes the whole arm and even a little part of my bicep. I'm very proud of it. You know, before getting tattooed, you're nervous about whether or not you would regret it after. When it was done, only thing I could think about was: why did I take so long? It's been two years since and I still love it.

I'm definitively a pro-ink guy. Maybe I would draw the line in hiring someone who has tattoos on the face or LOVE/HATE on his knuckles, but I would go as far as telling you I'd hire someone with hand tattoos if it was something tasteful.Getting inked made things very clear for me about this.

Kayla Knapp said...

I'm David's niece- aka "the girl with all the tattoos"- and it was really neat to read everyone's feedback and thoughts on what happened. It's nice to know that there are other people out there who are much more understanding, considerate, and supportive then those in my recent encounter. I also thankfully have been blessed with two very protective and caring bosses, who had my back all the way when I told them what had happened. They reminded me that I am a good waitress and no matter how many tattoos I have, I will always have job security. I recently just had more work done on the tattoo that these two couples were so disgusted with, and I have plans to continue it into a 3/4 sleeve. It makes me feel great that I can express myself and that I have a loving family who will support and love me know matter what :)

And as for those two couples....come and see me in a couple of years and I'll show you jut how successful a girl with tattoos can become!

David Cranmer said...

What a better world that would be, Sarah.

Imani, She is cool and collected compared to me. I may have had to let them have a few choice words. Btw thank you for stopping by my blog.

Dig that Henry Rollins, Ben. What a talented bastard. I'm glad to see so much positive feedback for this post. Thanks for sharing, sir.

We love you, Kayla! And especially little Ava who already looks up to you. You’re a great role model for her.

Nancy of Utah said...

David, as an oldster, I don't think I'm judgmental about the rage of getting tats. But I often wonder what they will look like when the youngsters get my age and gravity takes over. We had a friend who was in WWII who had a sailboat tattoo on his chest ... I think the sails started to sag. LOL Another older gal in church one day complained about her grandson wearing earrings. She thought it was awful. I told her if you complimented him on his choice and that if she'd ask to borrow them sometime, he'd probably stop wearing them! LOL Tats are artwork. And art appreciation is in the eye of the beholder.
(I like your blog because it as spellcheck!)

David Cranmer said...

Thanks for weighing in on the subject, Nancy. They are not for me either but I appreciate the art that is involved.