Tattoos? Not Me, I’m Commitment-Challenged


I’m not commitment-phobic, that would imply I’m afraid of making a commitment, and I’m not. I make commitments all the time; in fact I’m committed to working on my commitment-making process.  I just like to carry out what I consider to be an appropriate amount of due diligence first. I prefer the phrase commitment-challenged. Mind you there are plenty of folks who would have you believe I should just plain be committed.

… when it seemed there were video rental stores on every other corner … it would take me an inordinately long time to settle on a film – i.e. commit. That’s for a video I’m renting for a day at a cost of about two bucks.

Not so long ago, when it seemed there were video rental stores on every other corner, packed originally with BETA and VHS cassette, followed by DVD and finally Blu-Ray versions of new releases and golden oldies alike, it would take me an inordinately long time to settle on a film – i.e. commit. That’s for a video I would be renting for a day at a cost of about two bucks. Yet I’d think, what if I’ve seen this before, what if it’s crappy, I’ve come all this way, if the film is lousy, what a waste of time. I put so much pressure on myself, which naturally led to more research, and so on. Certainly there was to be no double-parking while I ran into the store to pick up a film.

A library doesn’t pose the same challenge because you can sit down, relax and have a good read of a prospective loan, getting a much better idea of the likelihood of the book being a rotter or not. Or, after reading a few pages you may realize that you have read the book before. The video store was the quintessential judging of a film by its cover – a bit of a pig at a poke.

Tat_SailorAnd speaking of pokes, this brings me to tattoos. With my propensity to over-think things, decisions and commitments, I often wonder how a person can decide to have something permanently engraved on their skin – assuming, of course, a state of sobriety. I understand tattoos can be removed, sort of, or covered-up, but it is a slow, expensive and, I’m told,Tattoo painful procedure. So I’m going to take for granted that people get tattoos with the intention of keeping them.

There was a time when men with tattoos got them either in the military, precisely etched coats of arms or insignia, or in prison, applied, with or without the recipient’s permission, using a jar of ink and a bent safety-pin. Women just didn’t have tattoos, unless they were part of the circus, as the late great Irish blues-man Rory Gallagher points out in his tale of Carny life “Tattoo’d Lady“.

Tattoo’d lady, bearded baby, they’re my family.

                                                      – Rory Gallagher

Now obviously tattoos have become part of mainstream culture. There are probably more people with ink than without. While I can certainly understand some tattoos; an Olympian with a medal or Olympic rings on their leg, an Ironman triathlon finisher with a logo proudly displayed. I’ve got to believe that if I had ever been a member of a Stanley Cup winning team, that I would have had the cup tattooed somewhere. I can also understand tattoos commemorating personal memories and life events. For instance, those children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors who replicate on their own arm, as a tribute and promise never to forget, the hideous number tattoo that was crudely needled onto their family member’s arm.

WoodPBut some of the things I see tattooed make me wonder. I think people should apply the “would I hang that on my wall FOREVER?” litmus test before deciding on a tattoo. For instance, take that mean-looking Woody Woodpecker with the cigar in his mouth, what in the name of Jesus would make an adult, allegedly, have that drilled into their skin? Unless you are Walter Lantz and his colleagues who created the famous ‘Pecker, I can’t see the point.

And what is with the skulls and crossbones? Do we live in a society populated with a large number of latent pirates? Would these people hang over the fireplace in their living-room a picture of a snake consuming Mickey Mouse dressed as a nun? Then why in the name of Christ would they have it applied, indelibly, to their skin?

I think I’m going to stay with the lick ‘n’ stick decal tattoos that were once included in gum packs. Or maybe, just maybe, give a henna image a shot! No … scratch the henna … then again … no … maybe … naw… could be … nope.

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

4 thoughts on “Tattoos? Not Me, I’m Commitment-Challenged

  1. Not that it has anything to do with your viewpoint, but the bird with the cigar is not Woody Woodpecker. It’s Mr. Horsepower, the mascot for Thrush Motors. People with that tattoo are racing fans. I suppose I can see that. I’ve known serious sports fans who have their favorite teams logo tattooed on them. If that’s what you live and breathe, then it might be a meaningful emblem, even a totem if you believe in such things. Unfortunately, most tattoos don’t even have that much significance.

    One of my life long friends, who I’ve known since junior high, is a tattoo artist. So I’ve had to defend my skin from constant pressure to decorate. Everyone has them now. More than once people have reacted with a bit of surprise when I tell them I don’t have a tattoo.

    The funny thing is, I don’t have an aversion to tattoos as an idea. I only have an aversion to bad tattoos. Or even just mediocre tattoos. If the majority of tattoos out there were interesting and meaningful, I wouldn’t complain.

    If people would only take some time to consider what they’re doing, they probably wouldn’t make this mistake. A lot of people who get tattoos tell me they have to do it right away so they won’t chicken out. The result is usually awful. The average tattoo is about as meaningful as a bumper sticker, and I wouldn’t even do that to my car.

    • Thank you very much for your comment Matthew. I was not at all aware of the significance of the bird and the cigar. I wonder if Thrush Motors had any trouble with Lantz et. al as it does resemble Woody.

      I agree with you fully on the matter of team icons etc. in fact my reference to an Ironman logo for someone who is a finisher comes from my own nephew who has completed several Ironman triathlons.

      Your concept of the bumper sticker is great. Most of the tattoos I see, many of which I might add, are no doubt artistic, leave me wondering “Why?”. I also understand that it is none of my business.

      Thanks again.

  2. Pingback: Social Weapons: Seating Plans & Conga Lines | DCMontreal: Blowing the Whistle on Society

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