For God’s sake, just say NO.

The other day I asked my friend Pamela if she has any tattoos.

This is a little game I play with women … many women with tattoos have them in secretive but intriguing places, and so they have to show me their “taboo” tattoo – on the slope of the breast or at the nape of their curvaceous bum crack – they want to show it to people, but are nervous to “bring it out” unless asked.

Anyway, Pam said,

Would you put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari?”

Great answer. She’s right. Ferrari Tattoo I’ll be honest – I sometimes see a tattoo that I think is attractive, but it’s invariably small and not easily spotted – usually on the shoulder, near the hip bone, or at the ankle.

But I think Pam is in the minority opinion these days from what I see out and about.

There are a ton of metaphorical non-Ferrari Jettas and Corollas roaming our streets, “bumper stickers” hung out like full-size colour billboards on the highway.

It’s difficult to look at tattoos branded on the arms of Holocaust survivors and think of the positive aspects of permanently inking our bodies.

But, self-expression is an important feature of the human race and, like a book chapter, each tattoo worn tells a story of the individual – some of the stories are intentional and filled with passion, others are deeper-rooted and less obviously intended.


And to my keen observing eye, body art is growing into a huge phenomenon with no signs of slowing down.

According to my high-tech info bible Wikipedia:

In January 2008, a survey conducted online by Harris Interactive estimated that 14% of all adults in the United States have a tattoo, just slightly down from 2003, when 16% had a tattoo. The highest incidence of tattoos was found among the gay, lesbian and bisexual population (25%) and people living in the West (20%). Among age groups, 9% of those ages 18–24, 32% of those 25-29, 25% of those 30-39 and 12% of those 40-49 have tattoos, as do 8% of those 50-64. Men are just slightly more likely to have a tattoo than women (15% versus 13%).

When I attend a lunchtime hot yoga class in Kelowna that is filled mainly with pretty, toned, 20-somethings, of a class group of about 20 persons, my companion Kara and I are close to being the only ones with no visible tattoos.

Isn’t it enough to not blend in because of our ages, but then to snap out further as body art-compromised too? How can I, Mr. conservative, be the freak?

Yoga tattoo

When I was younger, I would come across a tattoed person occasionally, usually a guy who had been in the armed forces, with an anchor on his upper arm, or a biker dude with MOM angled over top of a bright red heart.

“Dare” tattoos layered on at night while out liquored up with the buddies.

Tattoo parlors were dingy little shops in seedy areas of the inner city, scary places where you weren’t sure you would escape alive, or at least with all of your facial features unarranged, and minus unwanted infections.

And then one day it changed.

Tattoo parlors sprouted like spring daffodils, broadcast seeding the city streets with a rainbow-tinted assortment of human art studios.

What used to be back-alley naughty stuff has become mainstream for both men and women … so what’s going on here?

Are we becoming Maoris needing to symbolize our family heritage and marriage status?


I’m perplexed and need to know. Try these thoughts on for size and tell me if I’m heading in the right direction…

Every generation, every decade, has its theme that we reminisce about 20 years later.

The 1950’s had bobby socks and Buddy Holly and hanging out at the local drive-in eating burgers and fries while really it was all about hooking up with cute girls and guys.

Then the 1960’s came along and the Beatles and the Vietnam War, hallucinogenic drugs, and prominent assassinations were all the craze – literally. Protests sprung up in a bunch of cities and university campuses, but it was really about hooking up with cute girls and guys.

The ’70’s had bell-bottom pants, disco and lava lamps, pet rocks and James Taylor, the Bee Gees, Queen,  and Supertramp, but it was really about hooking up with cute girls and guys.

And on and on we go…

Are you detecting a theme here?

Maybe, just maybe, tattoos are the fashion of the early 2010’s, a hair style or clothing trend that makes us more sexy, more appealing and more likely to have sex on a Sudbury Saturday night.

The sight of an undulating snake on the arm of the Adam Levine look-alike is the deal clincher that will bring on the O-face for that Woo Hoo girl looking for her Bad Boy.

Yes, tattoos are about belonging, like sharing a cigarette in front of your high school with the cool gang. Could you possibly be a Hell’s Angel member and not carry the skin-art marks of acceptance?

When your best friend is prematurely cut down in the prime of their life, what is a more soothing tribute than having their name etched into your ankle with a group of friends?

A few years back, I was thrust from between my mother’s legs art-free. It’s true.


This is just a temporary tattoo I had drawn onto my shaved chest on a conference bet that I … WON!


Since then, I’ve had occasional little daydreams of throwing my conservative nature to the wind and popping a half-pint of colour onto my ankle or chest. But in the end, I suspect I’ll exit this world in the same natural state that I was born.

Temporary could be the way to go:  Indian culture has henna tattoos, kids have their tattoo stickers … why not inked “compression sleeves” that can be changed like your hair colour or the outfit-of-the-day?

Me? I’ll never own a Ferrari nor will I boast a bumper sticker on this practical Honda Civic that is me.

kid tattoo