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Excuse Me For Staring

I could not help but stare, although I was taught from an early age that it was not polite. But sometimes I come across someone or, in this case something, that requires a longer look than the customary glance.

The young woman was standing in front of me in line at Walmart. She looked barely out of her teens. Her skin, that which was still visible, stood out starkly against the black ink that covered her body like one of those road maps we used to keep in the car.

I was trying to look inconspicuous while also attempting to understand the dark shadows that lined her neck, arms and torso. I guess it’s customary to wear a short top to show off the ink that probably cost a pretty penny to get. So I saw quite a bit of what I can only describe as a medieval looking comic book come to life on her body.

The workmanship was as good as it gets for tattooing, in my opinion. The coloring was all within the lines and the faces of some of the characters on her body looked pretty real.

The bad ink jobs are usually self-inflicted or performed by a well-meaning friend. I’ve noticed that placement of a tattoo is most important. No one wants a tattoo of a beautiful woman to later look like a wrinkled mess as they age.

I know lots of people who have tattoos, both men and women. Some of their ink jobs are quite the accomplishment, while others leave me wondering if alcohol and shaking hands played a role in their creations. Tattoo parlors are big business. Finding a good one usually happens by word of mouth or proper advertising.

Years ago, tattoos were sported mostly by military personnel, bikers’ clubs or gang members who wanted their personal insignias for all to see. Then the sleeve tattoos became popular among the prison crowd. That spilled over to the sports world where athletes displayed their interests and loyalties for all to see.

Today, anything goes. It’s no longer just the name of someone’s better half or a ship on which they sailed in the Navy. No, it’s more like the image of family member who has passed away or the face of someone’s favorite pet. It’s a very personal and often permanent decision.

Most of the women I know who have tattoos have dainty butterflies or angel wings, not barbed wire or spikes. And the smaller tattoos are usually on an ankle or shoulder. I have an adult niece whose neck, chest and arms have the most beautiful artwork in pastel and deep colors that match her bright pink hair so well. She is a walking masterpiece and the sweetest person I know.

I have never felt the urge or need to place a tattoo on my person. It’s not the needles or the pain of getting a tattoo. It’s just the idea of it being there forever. After all, I tend to change my mind about things like that. Even my favorite color has changed three times in my lifetime. The only ink I will ever know comes from a newspaper printing press.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at: hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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