Long ago I wanted bicep tattoos in the worst way. Worst because I was eight and my mother would not hear of it. I wanted the globe and anchor of the U.S. Marines on one, and Popeye the Sailor Man on the other. Varie simply said, “Well, it’s not sanitary, and you might regret your artwork later.” My dad stopped laughing long enough to note “That is a dangerous combination: jarheads and swabbies don’t get along.” The subject was dropped but my attraction to tattoos lived on. It peaked when I read Moby-Dick with its character Queequeg, the reformed cannibal who was also Ishmael’s best bud, Starbuck’s boat’s harpooner, and a walking museum of 19th century art.
I developed serious doubts about tattoos after a 40ish co-worker at Quaker State had a golf ball sized tat installed just above her ankle. It was an artful rendition of a blue, black, and gold leopard swallowtail butterfly. I might go so far as to characterize it as “tasteful”. But the tat lessened my opinion of her in much the same way as would hitching a ride on the back of a hog with Hell’s Angels.
I was still at QS when our son Bret headed off to College Station to fulfill his ambition of becoming an Agro-American. There was a billboard-festooned tattoo shop just off the main entrance to the campus on University Avenue. Its largest sign cheerily proclaimed “Get a tattoo. Permanent proof of temporary insanity!” With that I was completely unhooked. I made the lad read the sign, and then told him “Don’t waste your money on that crap!” But if you must, have ‘em ink your hinder so I never have to see it.”
To the best of my knowledge Bret remains tat-free. But all over America other people are suffering tattoo remorse. Trouble is, removal requires laser burnings and many sessions with a great deal of pain, not to mention $3,500 for uninsurable elective surgery. Kat and I have seen misspellings literally carved in stone monuments, major corporations routinely release information riddled with poor syntax, and has ever a sign painter walked who could also spell? Worse yet, many tats are ill-considered, as in having a current flame’s name inked onto a breast, arm, or backside. Mistakes are made, but how to undo them?
In the Old West cattle rustlers used a technique known as over-branding to make stolen heifers resemble their own. This can work with tattoos too. I hear that something like a tenth of Trump voters now wish they could have a do-over. A tenth? That’s 6.3 million of his voters. If just one in a thousand got a TRUMP tattoo, it’s still over 6,000 galoots facing a lifetime of ‘splaining or thousands of dollars paid for pain. But that’s unnecessary. Pretend to be a baseball fan, and play like your team is the Baltimore Orioles. Their first baseman is a decent power hitter name of TRUMBO. And voila! There’s your low-pain solution: turn the P into a B, add an O, and if it’s off-center, add an orange and black oriole slightly offset, above or below.
Alas, most people want art in their tats, not just an all-caps name. Them, I cannot help. To wit: