Tuesday, August 21, 2012
When was it, exactly, when "bad" became "good," and "sick" became "cool?"
"Wow, that is sick," the kid says.
The kid means whatever he's looking at is very impressive. He likes it. "Sick" is not a pejorative adjective, it's a compliment.
My father used to say something like, "The bigger the tattoo, the smaller the brain," which I thought was pretty funny--and probably true.
My Grandfather Davis (on the maternal side), had a tattoo on each of his forearms. One was a naked woman with dark Godiva hair flowing discreetly past her lower buttocks, and the other I can't remember. I always think of the second one as an anchor, because my brothers and I swore Grampa Davis looked exactly like Popeye. His farmer sleeves were always rolled up, and when he popped out his dentures, squinted one eye and jut out his jaw, bald head sprouting minimal hairs, we screamed with delight. Stand by, Olive Oyl! Watch out, Bluto!
We loved him and his antics. But, how come my father damned the tattooed bikers on West Pearl St.and never said a disparaging word about Grampa's epidermic artwork? I don't know.
In my experimental high school years, I got drunk one day with a gang of buddies who decided that getting a tattoo was exactly the thing we should do that day. We piled into one car and drove to the nearest tattoo parlor, which, in those days, was located halfway across the state. Still, despite all the braggadocio, I knew I wouldn't do it--not even drunk. My father would consider me an idiot, which I always avoided at all costs. The tattoo parlor was closed, but two of my buddies went back a week later to do the deed, only to get their asses kicked by enraged parents.
Anyway, based on my observations, I never cared much for tattoos, although some of the art is excellent, and a girl with a pretty butterfly on her shoulder blade can be charming. The clean, sharp-edged drawings turn too soon into blurry blotches. They look good when they're fresh, when someone says, "Check out my new tattoo," but from there it's downhill. Even six feet away, you can't tell what they represent. They just look like severe skin blotches or accidental birthmarks. Get enough tattoos and you'll look like you got splashed by a truck driving through a mud puddle.
Worst of all, tattoo aficionados seem to be attracted to evil images, barbed wire, creatures with fangs, vociferous dragons and slimy snakes. Women have better taste, with their butterflies, flowers and angels, but--who needs it?