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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Tattoos for Big Thinkers

I decided that I wanted a tattoo on my chest. I decided to be just like everyone else in America and do something different. I decided to be an individual and get some skin art, like about 99% of the population. I realize that tattoos are very daring; they really set you off from the crowd, unless you happen actually to be in a crowd, because you will then notice that everyone has one.

I thought about my tattoo for quite some time. I don’t know exactly how much time I thought about it, but it was from happy hour until closing time. I drank cheap beer to aid my inspiration for my tattoo—the most white trash of our very trashy social customs. Here are some of my terrifically original ideas for tattoos: barbed wire, a yin and yang symbol, a peace sign, a skull, a sun, and a dolphin. I couldn’t think of any more tattoo designs so I sat in the coffee shop and checked out the hipsters as they filed in. OK, how about a crucifix, a moon, various cartoons characters, Chinese characters that could mean “drink Pepsi” for all we know, and a lot of other designs that probably have personal meaning, but to the untrained eye look like unsightly birth marks?

In the end I decided on a historical theme. I decided to get the Battle of Trafalgar tattooed across my chest. I have the entire British fleet descending upon the French ships in the Atlantic off the Spanish coast. Along with the tattoo artist, I also had present two professors while the work was being done to insure historical accuracy. The artwork is so good that you can almost hear the boom of cannons and the crack of muskets. He ran out of room on my chest so he continued the sea battle on my back and then down the back of my legs. Not until he reached the bottom of my left foot did he get to the sad conclusion of Admiral Nelson succumbing to a sniper’s bullet on the deck of his ship, the Victory.

I guess that I don’t have to say that my tattoo gets me a lot of attention. I strip down to my boxers and pose for grade school history classes. In bars I get probed and examined like a good book while groups of drunken Brits sing “God Save the Queen.” I soon grew tired of the novelty and I had the Battle of Trafalgar erased through laser surgery and I replaced it with a tattoo of the Mau-Mau uprising. That one proved to be a little too controversial. In another bar, a fight broke out and I got hit with a spear in the middle of the back. I scratched that one off and replaced it with a depiction of the French World Cup soccer victory in 1998. That one doesn’t go over so well when I travel to football-crazed countries like Brazil or Italy.

Another laser surgery and another tattoo later and I had a beautiful display of the destruction of Pompeii. Then I got the idea to start a sort of revolving exhibit of historical skin art. Some future ideas are the defeat of the Inca Atahualpa at Cajamarca, the death of Magellan in the Philippines, the first lunar landing, the Great Northern Railroad strike, the Fall of Rome in six parts, the trial of Socrates, the last episode of M*A*S*H, the Scopes Monkey Trial, the stock market crash of 1929, the assassination of Lincoln in Ford’s Theater, the supreme court ruling on Roe vs. Wade, Lou Gehrig’s speech upon retiring from baseball…

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