Mike Brown’s Tattoo Talk

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So there was this Tattoo Convention thing a couple weeks ago. I was totally going to go, seeing how I have tattoos and all. I thought it would be cool to see other artists from different parts of the world with their different styles and accents and shit like that.

But then a couple of things stopped me from going.

The first thing being that I just got back from a convention. A snowboard convention. BARF! I like to snowboard and all, but fucking seriously, if I see one more Volcom stone or hear the words ‘Bro’ or ‘Tight’ one more time, I’m gonna fucking lose it. If I hear someone saying the phrase “That was Hella-Tight, Bro,” I think I’ll just buy a trench coat from the DI, some used military boots, get myself a Hot Topic gift card and join the last social scene based entirely on awkwardness known as the Trench Coat Mafia and forget that I ever tried to snowboard in the first place.

You see, I like getting tattoos and I like the people that put them on me, so if I went to the convention and had a similar taste in my mouth afterwards, you can see why I’d not want to go to the convention.

There’s a lot of reasons why I like tattoos but the older I get there have become a lot of reasons why I hate them too. I don’t hate my tattoos, (well maybe the racing stripes on my legs that I got while still in high school) but I have made up an unwritten rule of thumb that goes like this––if you have more than 8 tattoos you are allowed to have at least 2 bad ones, any more than that and you’re pushing it buddy.

And I don’t hate tattoos the way my mom hates them. Like the first time she saw my arm adorned with different colors, she said with a genuine sadness in her eyes, “Oh, Honey, what did you do to your arm? What if you want to get a job some day?”

See, to my loving conservative mother and most of her generation, tattoos can only mean three things: 1. That you are in or have been in the circus or carnival. 2. That you are in or have been in the Navy (meaning you’ve screwed a lot of sea-side hookers sans rubber.) Or 3. That you are in or have been in prison (meaning that you’ve screwed a lot of cell block cock, sans rubber.)

When my 92-year-old grandpa first saw my tattoos, he gently grabbed my arm, looked at it for a couple awkward seconds, and said, “Mike, if I didn’t love ya, I’d take you for a queer.” My gramps always had a way with words.

What I don’t think my mom realizes is that every Tom, Dick and Harry has a tattoo. Going to see the tattoo artist has become like going to see the dentist. So I’m not worried about ever getting turned down for a job because of a tattoo. I don’t think I’ve ever honestly heard of that happening. I can also sadly say that I see my tattoo guy more than I see my dentist.

So just like skateboarding, punk rock and everything else that was cool when I was a kid, tattoos can be put right there on the cultural shelf of things that just don’t really mean shit anymore (look out graffiti, you’re next!) But that’s a tough one to explain to my mom whom I love, even though she never understood punk rock or skateboarding. If she did, I probably wouldn’t have liked such things.

The fact that Average-Joe-Six-Pack has fresh ink makes me not like tattoos the way I used to. Mostly because now, I have to talk to that person about tattoos. And I love talking, but I hate talking about stupid shit with stupid people. I really don’t want to explain to every stupid stranger that thinks he has the right to interrupt whatever I’m doing why I have a horse and a snowmobile crashing into each other permanently etched on my tummy. I’m not even going to explain it to the SLUG readers. If you know, you know. If not… too bad go fuck yourself.

I call this newfound ritual of stupidity, simply, “Tattoo Talk”.

And if you have a lot of good tattoos and you feel the same way about humanity as I do, then you’ve probably had it.

It usually starts like this: you’re somewhere in public, in a line somewhere, maybe the library. And the guy behind you notices whatever you have on you and usually says something incredibly dumb like, “Sweet ink, Bro.” Sweet ink? Why would someone talk to me like that? Why don’t they just throw me on the ground right there and take a shit in my ear? It would feel the same as hearing that phrase.

Then they usually want to know who did it and how much it cost you. THEN they insist that you see their ‘sweet ink’ even though you never asked. They start lifting up their shirt, usually to show you some tribal shit. I always make it a point to ask tribal tattoo dude, (which is a special breed of douche, I might add) what tribe he actually belongs to and what culture he is indigenous to. And if he has some stupid answer like, “Oh I spent the summer of my freshman year at Westminster with the Mayan Tribal offshoot of …Blah Blah Blah…and this is a tribute to them.” then tell him to go back and not ruin a wonderful first world country by talking to me about such stupid shit.

Tattoo talk is my favorite excuse for being late to something. “Sorry I’m late to the SLUG writers meeting guys. I was trying to get my Starbucks on and this jack off behind me started having tattoo talk. Then I almost had to punch him out when I asked his white girlfriend what all that Chinese shit on her back could possibly mean to her, seeing how she didn’t speak Chinese and all.”

Another funny thing about tattoo talk that I just realized is that it never happens with girls who have shit on their lower backs. Or tramp stamps as they are better known. I think this is because most girls don’t want to explain to a stranger why they have a jizz bulls-eye on them, it’s already pretty obvious why they have it.

Tattoo talk rarely involves the question, “What does your tattoo mean?” Tattoo talk is more about status than it is about really knowing a person. But who really wants to get to know anyone these days? Not me.

P.S. To all tattoo artists everywhere––please please please never talk anyone out of a bad tattoo, ever! Especially not tribals, lower back cum targets and Oriental shit on white chicks. Why? Bad tattoos might be the best method we have as a culture to instantly weed out the douche bags. Like when I see a guy with a tribal around his Yoga-sculpted triceps, I INSTANTLY know I don’t ever want to talk to that fuckface, thus the artist is doing me a public service. To me it’s the same red flag as seeing a dude with a swastika engraved on his face.