As someone who considers themselves relatively interested in tattoos, it’s not uncommon to strike up a conversation with a beautifully adorned guy or gal about their work. People will often come up to me asking about some of my pieces, and for the most part, I don’t really mind, I actually kind of like it sometimes.
Show N’ Tell Sean
It’s all fun and games until one day you spot him—he’s wearing a wife beater, crusty skateboard shoes, and has a backpack on for some unbeknownst reason. He smells like stale cigarettes and cheap tequila. Avoid eye contact. Pretend to be looking at your phone.
“Hey, cool tats! Mind if I check ‘em out?”
Here we go.
You pull up your sleeve a little bit, half interested, as captain bong water zooms in on your arm like he’ll be able to see your freaking skin cells.
He then pulls back and starts twisting his body around, playing show and tell about his “unique” collection of “ink” and how much he loves getting “tatted”. There’s a tattoo of shamrock on his shoulder, a collection of indiscriminate names in old English, the cover of a sublime album, and other random prison-esque tattoos floating around his skinny pale body. It doesn’t matter how much you try and avoid him, he will not leave you alone. Get out, fast.
She’s bright and smiling; you can overhear her howling away with the cashier, like she just told the funniest joke to have ever existed. You don’t mind her though–until you see her walking towards you, her eyes get large, she’s spotted you like a wounded rabbit.
She looks at your work in awe, showering you with compliments and questions about where you got it done and if it hurt. She runs her hand over your arm, and twists your bicep to see all the angles. There you are, standing in the face wash aisle in Target with some strange woman petting you like you were a goddamn shih tzu.
You feel bad about being rude, so you laugh awkwardly and half smile while you allow yourself to be publicly violated.
You go meet a group of friends at the bar; there are some people you don’t know, big deal. Everyone starts chatting about what to do for the rest of the evening, you’re laughing and enjoying a beer, it’s nice.
Then like some sort of teen movie where the DJ scratches and the room turns silent, you hear it “What does your tattoo mean?” Your friends stop talking, they never really cared to ask, and now they’re curious.
Your thoughts scramble, what’s going to be the easiest way to get this girl to stop talking to me? The nameless girl nurses her rum and coke and stares at you like you were some sort of freak show.
Yes, you may have gotten your tattoo because you were at a really critical point in your life and you wanted something beautiful and permanent to remember it. But no, you say “I just liked the art.” Crisis averted.
You can see him staring. The next thing you know he’s right next to you, looking at your arm like he’s reading a paper on molecular biology.
He is fixated on your tattoos, his eyes feel like laser beams. The creeps, you can feel them.
“I like your tats, “he says, finally looking up at your eyeballs. He might be wearing a silk button-up with a dragon printed on it, some sort of awkward polo, or some ironic t-shirt.
He points to the woman on my arm and raises an eyebrow, “So why don’t you have red hair?”
I knew I should have worn long sleeves today.