I realize that I am taking a risk in writing this blogpost. The risk is that I may come across as hopelessly out of touch. This is not as great a risk as it seems. More and more, I realize that I am barely clawing my way into the 21st century. For example, when I recently read in my college alumni magazine that a member of the class of ’13 was added to a new committee, my first thought was “That’s a really old person.” Then I realized it was the class of 2013 not 1913. Oh. . . .
I was reminded of my age and my era of comfort again this week when I read that Leslie Gore had died. Lesley Gore of “It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” and “You Don’t Own Me.” That Lesley Gore. I even watched a You Tube video of her singing one of those songs on “Hullabaloo" in 1965, and, sadly, I think I remember seeing that show when it aired originally. Which only goes to show that if you know what “Hullabaloo” is, you’re probably on your way to being out of touch.
But I still haven’t gotten to my point—another symptom of my advancing years. Here it is: I do not understand why people choose to have tattoos etched into or drawn onto their bodies.
I realize that tattoos have been around for quite a while, but they seem to be the rage these days. When I was growing up, Jewish parents made a big deal about our not getting our bodies tattooed. It goes back to a line in the book of Leviticus, I believe. And I’m sure that the Nazis marked Jews they placed into concentration camps with tattooed numbers in part to desecrate their bodies. But that is way off the point.
Why am I thinking about tattoos and questioning them today? Two recent incidents. On Saturday afternoon, Audrey and I went to see a Metropolitan Opera performance beamed into a local movie theater. Imagine, opera and popcorn together—not much can top that. So we’re watching a pretty avant-garde Bartok opera called Bluebeard’s Castle, in which the soprano—a tall, thin blonde woman playing Judith—is opening doors into the home and mind of her new husband Bluebeard, who is notorious for knocking off new wives who enter his castle but never leave. In one scene, she is sitting inside a bathtub and appears to be wearing what most of us where when we’re bathing—nothing. Which seems somewhat shocking during an opera, that most high-brow of entertainments. While singing a pretty serious aria in pretty lugubrious tones, she turns her back to the audience, and there it is—a colorful and not-so-small tattoo. I’m a little shocked—not by the nudity (which I would applaud) but by the tattoo. Am I out of touch? You betcha.
Then, today I went to my gym to work out. Standing near me was a young man pumping an amount of weight I cannot even imagine lifting in my dreams. Down his muscular left arm, in large old-English font, the following letters are tattooed: G-O-D-S. I have a little trepidation checking out his right arm for another set of letters, but there they are: G-I-F-T. And I’m thinking, here is a man with a great deal of ego but not the best knowledge of grammar. After all, he left out the apostrophe in God’s. And I understand something he may not realize—that that spelling error and egotistical message are going to be on his arms for a long, long time. Someday, he may need to buy a lot of long-sleeved shirts to cover them up.
So, there you have it. Today, I am railing against tattoos, especially those that are grammatically incorrect. Tomorrow, who knows? Hey, modern world, bring it on!