Tit for Tat

Popeye the Sailor Man

Popeye the Sailor Man

Tit for Tat, by Sybil McLain-Topel

Popeye the Sailor Man is the first man I ever met with a tattoo.

            He pretty much confirmed what I always heard when I was young, that only sailors and vulgar people get tattoos.

Boy has that changed.

It turns out that this tattooing thing has been going on a long time. In the 1990s a perfectly preserved man estimated to be more than 5000 years old was found in the icy mountains between Austria and Italy. He bore tattoos – nothing fancy – just a few slashes here and there. There was no accompanying report saying whether or not his mother approved. Or his wife. Or whether his wife had tattoos as well.

The first tattoo I saw up close on a woman my age caught me by surprise. She didn’t ‘look like the type.’ We were changing clothes at the YMCA when I spotted a pert little rose perched atop her right breast. She could cover it up or reveal it, depending on the dip in her décolleté. She got it after running a marathon, or maybe after her first divorce. Pretty much the same thing, right? No pain, no gain.

Pict Woman This is not an actual Pict tribe woman; it’s just what the illustrator thought she might have looked like based on descriptions. We don’t know if her tattoos are black, blue or multi-colored, whether they hurt, or whether alcohol was served before or after. We don’t know what her husband thought about this, either.

On the same day that many people in the United States were remembering the attack on the World Trade Towers it was reported in a New York newspaper that Rihanna had a new tat, a winged Isis, Egyptian goddess of motherhood and fertility. Her new tat is perched below and under both breasts. Every pun possible was used in the 380-word article except ‘tit for tat.’

How did they miss that?

Blue or dark ink seems to be popular on fair skinned folk. What’s in that blue ink, anyway, and is it really ink?

 Blue

Azure Blue

Cobalt Blue

Cu-phthalocyanine

Blue pigments from minerals include copper (II) carbonate (azurite), sodium aluminum silicate (lapis lazuli), calcium copper silicate (Egyptian Blue), other cobalt aluminum oxides and chromium oxides.

The safest blues and greens are copper salts, such as copper pthalocyanine.

Copper pthalocyanine pigments have FDA approval for use in infant furniture and toys and contact lenses.

The copper-based pigments are considerably safer or more stable than cobalt or ultramarine pigments.

 My second husband has two tattoos, both in black pigment. In 2003, when he first got the ‘armband’ on his left bicep at a tattoo joint in Soho, New York, he claims he had only one glass of wine.  Not only did his girlfriend approve, she was there encouraging him.  His mother, in Wichita, was not consulted.  He was sober in 2005 when he got the second tattoo, too, the one I see most often, another armband on his right bicep. He says the “d” in the second design is for his dad. I don’t know about this since his fiancée was named Deanna (not her real name) and she has her own “tramp stamp” tattoo. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Unlike Rihanna, he has not published his tattoos on twitter. Yet.

Currently one in five U.S. adults has at least one tattoo (21%) which is up from the 16% and 14% who reported having a tattoo when this question was asked in 2003 and 2008, respectively.

Women are slightly more likely than men, for the first time since this question was first asked, to have a tattoo (now 23% versus 19%).  (Harris Interactive.)

 My first husband, a well-respected attorney for many years, had no tattoos until later in his life. He chose a small flourish nestled on the outside of his right ankle. No one in the family knows whether a woman was involved, or whether spirited beverages were served before or after his clandestine trip to the tattoo artist.

             The bicep, I-can-cover-it-up-at-work tattoo, seems to be popular with certain men over 50. Like my cousin, Art (not his real name), who works as a CFO at a pool table company. Seriously, why would they object to a tat there?

            Husband Number Two insists that this essay is not complete until I visit an Atlanta tat parlor. He has been looking at my left ankle. …

            Alcohol was not involved.


 

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6 thoughts on “Tit for Tat

  1. Loved it J

    I actually got mine after a libation influenced design concept but under a 100% sober experience. Tastefully concealed unless I want it to show and absolutely regret free

    Gayle Denise Hibbert

    Origami Owl

    719-426-8647 Mobile

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  2. I promised I would follow you so here I am. I do have some catching up to do, but enjoyed this “Tit for Tat” very much. So far I have skipped on getting a tatoo….don’t like pain and it looks very painful. It took me forever to get my ears pierced. I probably will not get a tatoo, not because of any bias, but because I change my mind a lot. I like to do and experience different things. I would probably get tired of it after a bit. Will read more later.

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  3. My dad was working on a job at Vanderbilt many years ago and would make comments about how shocking it was to see wealthy, upper class students all tatted up. It has certainly become more acceptable, but so has just about everything else. My father is thrilled that I am tattoo-less; although, I think putting on a fake tramp stamp for April fools could be fun 🙂

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    • Yes, I have gotten requests for a “photo” of my alleged tattoo. Now, if you read the blog closely, it never says I actually got a tat… A fake one does sound like a good way to go. Several people in my writing group have tats and get them to commemorate certain milestones in their lives. I learned a lot when we work-shopped this piece in class and I have a better appreciation mow for the motivation to get tats. I hope that came across in the blog post. I hope you and yours are busy as can be and bringing in new projects all the time. I definitely miss my Franklin friends and my Nashville peeps.

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