sailors, whores, and debutantes

Yesterday while eating sushi, my server, whom I’ve known for quite some time and do like, looked up at my friend Chris and myself and asked us if we thought that getting a visible tattoo would hinder her ability to get a job.

Good question. A question that we’ve been asking ourselves, and each other, since the beginning of tattoo time. An even better question when you take into consideration that both the people she chose to ask have visible tattoos. I’m assuming what she really wanted to ask was, “Umm, Chris and Caroline, are you super sorry you went off and got a tattoo right there? Where everyone can see it? Is it hard having everyone immediately know that you’re a sailor and a whore, respectively?”

What I wanted to say in return was something deeply philosophical, a tree-falls-in-the-woods like analogy that would leave her stunned and pondering and give me the opportunity to go back to my spice tuna roll. Instead I told her that it did matter. If, in life, you want to be 100% sure that you’re not being judged for your physical appearance, you best do everything in your power to have the most benign personal appearance of all time.

But do that with some caution. I’m may be lumped in with fatties and queers when it comes to seeking employment, but I do my part to right the karmic scales by never hiring the pearl-wearing, empty brief case toting, yes sir, no sir, I don’t know sirs of the world. I respect rules, but I don’t really care for those who clearly care so deeply about the opinions of others that they have committed their lives to concealing who and what they are, for fear that it will lead them down the wrong path.

When I got a tattoo is was for all the wrong reasons. I got a tattoo to get a tattoo. I got it because I saw in myself something I didn’t like. I saw a person who judged other people with tattoos. I assumed that the tattoo was a harbinger of ill breeding and a below average lexicon. When I decided upon the place for my tattoo I decided I wanted it somewhere very visible. When someone sees that I have a tattoo, I want to be able to look them in the eye, watch their perception of me change. I want to see them think, “huh, and here I thought she was such a smart girl…” And I want them to look in my eyes and see the exact same thing.

And then there is the matter of the bunnies. Yes, that’s right, for those of you who don’t know me, I have bunnies tattooed on my arm. Shel Silverstein’s Runny Babbit to be exact. If you’d like to participate in an enlightening sociological exercise, tattoo bunnies on your arm. Everyone wants to loathe their existence, BUT THEY ARE BUNNIES. Who could ever hate a bunny. Furthermore, what reckless badass tattoos a furry woodlands creature on her arm?

Since having a tattoo I realize, as is true with all things, there are a myriad of reasons for tattoos. Yes, a notable percentage of tattooees have below average intelligence and poor breeding, but an equal number are romantics, parents, loyalists, MENSA members, and– GASP!– Christians. But the truth remains as clear as it was before I had a tattoo myself: you get a tattoo, be prepared to be a person with a tattoo.

But to all you non-inked peoples out there, remember this. I work in marketing. My job is to break people down into chewable, manageable, judgeable personality archetypes. I need to be able to pinpoint who cares about what and when and how. And while there my be information about the kind of people who buy Corvettes (Latinos, single men with small penises making somewhere between 55-80K, and lottery winners), eat Twinkies (poor people and stupid people), and what it takes to get elected president (one word and 350 million dollars), there is no algorithm for defining the kind of person who gets a tattoo.

Because, as far as I’m concerned, tattoos are for sailors, whores, and debutantes too.

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