The Dogs

so my mom hates tattoos...

I recently made it known to The Mom that I am in the process yet again of deciding on a design to carve into my infant flesh. (see I can use the strike-thru like all the cool kids in blogtown. I can fit in I promise!) She took the news with a nominal amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth. (pretty sure she put ashes on her head though) Considering she's of the opinion only carnies, bikers and ex cons should have tattoos, (thereby facilitating quick and easy identification of unscrupulous fringe groups). I myself am (currently) none of the above, having never done any significant time in prison.

I've also more or less relinquished the hooliganism of my younger days in exchange for a nice Toyota with sweet MPGs and a sexy maintenance record not to mention drastically more comfortable living conditions, a loving wife and three kick ass dogs who keep me at home laughing on the couch instead of out kicking down fences in Hollywood (screw the Oscars and their sidewalk control) or alone in my room wrestling with post-collegiate depression and an acute sense of social isolation. Despite my lingering fantasy of someday joining a biker gang, my oats (feral as they may be) are mostly sown. I don't get tattoos out of rebellion, fashion, gang banging rights of passage, or to impress chicks. (well, maybe one)

So because I am not easily placed into one of the preceding delinquent categories my mother is unable to discern why on earth I want- more- tattoos! Right now I have 5. An old Celtic knot on the right calve, Arabic lettering for "living water" above the left knee, my parents initials in classic "Ye olde Gangsta font" on my back, and some Japanese text on my arms (the closest to a fad design I have) that have a lot of meaning to me. The only down side being that I was totally over explaining them to random strangers in the supermarket checkout line a couple years after I got them. "What's that mean? I bet it actually says I like Mickey Mouse or something and you don't know, har har". With the exception of this past vexation, (people don't tease anymore, perhaps due to my being older now, or at least bigger and scarier looking) I have never regretted any of my tattoos, nor do I expect I ever will. I don't pick tattoos for external reasons, because external reasons change, tastes change, fads come and go, leaving behind them a swath of tribal arm bands and butterfly bedazzled butt cracks. Styles may change, but I know that I will always take pride in where I come from and have a fondness for my parents, so I will never find myself looking in the mirror saying why did I get these stupid family initials on my back? (The rents share the same initials. Think Bob James Simpson and Bobbi Jean Simpson. 1 stone, 2 birds. -And yes, they are one of those couples)

Likewise, I know that since I will never stop loving my wife, a tattoo that reminds me of her, represents her importance to me and the role she fills in my life is not going to lose it's longevity along with the latest crop of skinny jeans destined for the Macy's clearance rack. Therefore I posit this philosophical maxim, place thy tattoo upon a firm foundation and though the colors may fade, the meaning never will. To which The Mom retorts "Bah!" an overwhelming argument to say the least. Okay fine, truth be told Mom is actually a little more eloquent than that, notwithstanding the fact that I'll catch hell if she ever reads this and I make her sound stupid.

Luckily for you, interwebbers, The rents are currently residing in Libya (No there aren't terrorists there anymore, but that's another post) and this distance has required my mom to learn the use of "I.M. text chat" to communicate easily. Thus, the entire conversation is on record. Therefore, if it please the court, I shall paste some excerpts below.

Petedog: I gotta get christy’s input on a tattoo design before she goes to sleep
The Mom: tattoo!!?? NOOOOO! (Throws ashes on head and gnashes teeth) I hope it's for bonnie...
Petedog: lol no. if i get a dog tattoo it'll be for bubba
The Mom: a big MOM on his shoulder or skull and crossbones (substituting the idea of my dog getting a tattoo instead of me. Denial.)
Petedog: I'm designing MY next tattoo. Muahaha. (sadistically enjoying tormenting poor mother)
The Mom: keep it teeeeny! (bargaining)
Petedog: its not gonna be THAT small, (actually planning a half-sleeve)
Petedog: tiny little baby tattoos on men don’t usually look good,
Petedog: I'm getting an anchor with wifey-face’s name on a banner under it, (and a stormy ocean with ship and nautical compass, banners with text and several other old school vintage staples.)
The Mom: Oh. I thought the tattoo was going on Christy.
Petedog: she is looking for a design too, but I was always planning to get a post wedding tattoo that represents her and I settled on an anchor cause that’s what she is
The Mom: very very true, we love our Christy

The Mom: OK. I won't complain too much about this one. (She will) But don’t get any more! Jeez (locking sights on another windmill)
Petedog: lol, I only pick good ones, I’ll be getting more when I have kids. (also before)
The Mom: aaaaaaaargh! (more gnashing, rends garments)
Petedog: I saw someone with a tat of the footprint that they do at birth
The Mom: that would make a nice print for your WALL
Petedog: maybe I am my wall

The Mom: We were talking about tattoos the other day with another (old) couple. How our generation just doesn't get you and tattoos! Painful and permanent. and I think that's why you guys LIKE it. (Assumes I’m masochistic when obviously I’m a sadist.)
The Mom: I think it's your desire to make a lasting statement. to proclaim what you're about
The Mom: and you're about yr love for yr family
Petedog: I think its more personal than a statement. I have tattoos that no one ever sees. Its like a roadmap, a personal history. Little pieces of my life that were meaningful enough i wanted to take a reminder with me
The Mom: yea. just not my cup of tea. that's all but I can appreciate the passion (bordering on acceptance)
Petedog: Ive never regretted any of mine the only annoying thing is when strangers grill you on the meaning
Petedog: Part of it is about living life big
The Mom: I'll live a little smaller thank you

So, bloggers of the world wide interweb (that's another cool kid blog word apparently), squares, freaks, punks, skins, and suits. I ask you, what do you think tattoos mean in our current society? How do you think the mythology of tattoos has changed, if at all, since the boomers? Do you see a person with ink on their skin and assume they are unsavory? A criminal? Carny? Uneducated? A walking piece of pop culture art more American than Warhol? Send me your thoughts, or post them here. Whatever they may be.

Further discussions on the state of the American dream, tattoo culture, local music, art and food coming soon. at


  1. Tatt's are cool. So are Carnies actually!


  2. I have three tattoos. and that's exactly how I see it. a roadmap. each one a memory. and except for one that's faded and I'm thinking I may embellish when I touch it up (aka when I have money), I've never regretted a one. I'm dying for a fourth and knew what I wanted. but now that my furbaby has cancer, I may get one in triumph when she gets better.

  3. My ex husband has a US Navy tattoo and wanted to have my name underneath it ~ I was absolutely against it ~ married 13 years then he moved on ~ I am wishing I wasn't so adamant about him not having it, the pain of him having it removed would have been so worth it. Bitter? Who me? No...

  4. As a kid growing up...tattoos were exactly what you said, something for cons and freaks. I swore I would never get one.

    Then I went to college (90's). It was the era of the tramp stamps, tribal arm bands, Chinese Characters, neck tattoos, and piercings..lots and lots of piercings.

    As I started my career I saw a shift in business too. When people with piercings and tattoos were once considered a "risky" hire. Now, not so much. My co-worker in an office setting has full sleeves.

    I got over my "I would never do that phase" and have four. The best advise I ever got was to put the tattoos in a place that you can't see without the aid of a mirror. Then if you get tired of the tattoo you don't have to see it all the time.

    I do wonder what all the people who have beautiful sleeves and full back and torso tats will look like when they are 80. Kinda freaks me out. Just like the fact that in 50 years the most common name in the nursing home is going to be Britney and Tiffany...that's weird too.

  5. I have two tattoos. Both of them have special meaning just for me. In fact, I designed the artwork for both. I think that tattoos are a very personal way of expressing something that we feel in ourselves - in that moment. "Roadmap" is a very eloquent and wonderful way of describing it.

  6. Brahm: Carnies rule. I always wanted to be the dude witha cigarette dangling off a lip jamming levers on a rusted out monster that spins teenagers around till they puke. Or a barker with a really awesome impossible arcade game.

    Andy: That would be pretty cool. Triumph tattoos are always my favorite, and the best stories! I remember how scary and helpless the pet cancer thing can be, it sucks, but I'm sure she'll get through it, just hang in there.

    Nubian: That sucks it didn't work out. I think alot of people keep tattoos like that or get new ones to remind themselves not to make the same mistakes twice or in rememberance of someone. Personally I don't think I'd ever get a tattoo removed, only altered or covered. I hear that getting them removed hurts far worse than having it done in the first place.

    Jon: Isn't it funny how much stigma has changed recently? When I got my ears pierced the first thing my parents told me was that it would prevent me from obtaining a loan for a house one day. The other day I was at the bank and the mortgage broker had tattoos and a nose piercing!

    Spudchick: why do you think that tattoo culture changed in recent generations? It's gone from a blunt rebellious statement to a complex and deeply personal expression of art. But I am trying to figure out what caused that shift.

  7. Peter ~ "I hear that getting them removed hurts far worse than having it done in the first place." ~ my point exactly. ;~)

  8. Tattoo is art that you like enough to put on your skin to admire always


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