Re: Do you have a tattoo?
Political question for the new age: Do you tattoo?
Before we get to the part where I'm asked if Gov. Janet Napolitano has a tattoo, we need to put the current craze for getting "inked" into perspective.
There will come a time, 30 or 40 years from now, when young women will point to their mothers or grandmothers and laughingly refer to a certain type of body decoration as an "old lady tattoo."
A Harris poll from 2003 found that 16 percent of Americans have tattoos and that a whopping 64 percent of those people are in their 20s and 30s. And it's increasing. Which means that sometime in the future a large number of American women in their mature years will carry a small tribal symbol, a butterfly, a flower or some type of scrolled design on the small of their backs. Or just above the nubs of their ankles. Or both. advertisement
Of course, these festively adorned females will be joined in nursing homes by elderly gentlemen with withering strands of tattooed barbed wire strung years before around their now shriveled biceps.
They'll have gotten the tattoos in their teens or 20s, a decision that will brand their generation in the same way that soldiers and sailors from World War II got hearts tattooed on their chests with the word "Mother" scrolled across them, or had the names of their ships or military outfits inscribed on their forearms.
One day last week, a young man in his 20s called my office to ask if I had a tattoo. I got the impression from background noise that the answer to his question would determine who would buy the next round.
Some of our esteemed educators and politicians believe that popular culture has transformed America's youth into a self-consumed and mindless generation. I mentioned this to the kid on the phone, then added, "You, apparently, are a perfect example of why that is not true."
It was the first interesting question I'd gotten in weeks. The only thing that could have made it better is if the young man had somehow squeezed current events or politics into it.
"OK," he said smugly, "do you know if Janet Napolitano has a tattoo? Or maybe John McCain?"
It was tempting. I got so far as to look up the phone numbers for the governor and the senator, but I couldn't make the calls. These are personal matters. And if for some reason the answer to the tattoo question came back "yes," protocol would have required me follow up with why, when, what and, most uncomfortably, where.
However, based solely on the personalities of these two people I would say this: I don't know if Gov. Napolitano has a tattoo, but she shouldn't. Likewise, I don't know if Sen. McCain has a tattoo, but he should.
The late Sen. Barry Goldwater, Arizona's one-time Republican presidential candidate, had a tattoo. It included four small blue dots (representing snake bites) and a half moon on his left hand. It had to do with him being a "chief" of the Smokis, a collection of mostly White men who dressed up in Native American attire, painted their bodies and imitated traditional ceremonies like the Hopi snake dance. (For the record, I will not be asking Napolitano or McCain if they've ever done that, either.)
As for myself, the answer is no, I don't have any tattoos. From time to time I've thought of getting one, but I never have. And as the years pass I find that there is less and less "canvas" of a suitably taut nature to be properly decorated, severely limiting both the what and the where.
I could go with Sen. Goldwater's snakebite motif, I suppose, but by the time I get around to it I'm afraid there will be no way to tell the difference between the tattoo and the liver spots.
Will trade this space for a #1 starter.