Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Wow, another crazy night of work in the ER.  By the end of the shift I was so tired that when I got home at midnight, I didn't watch TV to unwind; I just stripped off my scrubs, and went to bed.

I walked the dog this morning, and when I got back, my wife was talking with a guy my age who was clearly some sort of home improvement salesman.  I immediately noticed that spider web tattoo on his left elbow.

It looked a lot like this one from a web site that I found when Googling for images of spider web tattoos:
Before I go on a rant about the home repair salesman and his stupid tattoo (which cost him a sale), allow me to state the obvious:

I don't have any tattoos.

Why not?

1) I'm a fat, balding middle-aged guy who doesn't work out.  If I got a tattoo, I would look like an idiot.

2) Tattoos are forever.

3) When I am 70 years old, the tattoos that I (pretend) got when I was 25 or 35 will look really stupid on my wrinkly, liver-spotted, sagging skin.  Working in a hospital in a working-class, blue-collar community, I see a lot of people who got tattoos when they were younger.  Now they're old and sick, and those tattoos look really stupid. 

4) They are very working class.  Some how, some where, at some time in American history, it became very cool to be very blue collar i.e. to display the tastes and sensibilities of working class people.  Call me an elitist, but the last thing I want to do is try to impress my neighbors, friends, and coworkers by acting "street".  American culture has been in a downhill race towards the lowest common denominator for a long time, but I refuse to take part in the race.  Here's the thing: I have several friends from working class backgrounds--or who have working class jobs--and they don't act like blue collar hillbillies.  If they have any tattoos, I'm not aware of it, because they keep them out of the public eye (read: people at work can't see it when you're dressed in regular clothes).

Remember in the 1980s when ear rings were the big thing?  Guys were getting ear rings, and girls had the whole length of their ear lobes pierced up, down, and sideways.  Of course, it went from ear rings to all kinds of other body piercings, because there are always the adventurous ones who need to push the envelope.

5) There, I hit the nail on the head: It's excessive.  People aren't able to get that one tattoo somewhere under their shirt, where co-workers can't see it. NOOOOooo......they have to have big, gigantic tattoos OUT IN THE OPEN.

TRUE STORY: I was birding at Patagonia Lake, Southeast Arizona with Ferenc Domoki.  I told him that I was tired, and would take a nap in the car while he searched for life birds.  A woman and her husband (They were wearing wedding rings)  rolled by my car on bicycles.  As they were hunched over the handle bars, the following big gigantic tattoo on her lower back was quite visible:


You want the world to know that (think that?) about you?
Think about it: if she wears a bikini, everybody can read that tattoo right above her ass. Does she have kids?  Is she going to the beach with her kids?

Getting back to Mr Home Improvement:  The spider tattoo on the elbow is a tattoo that men get in prison.  He seemed too mellow and middle class to be an ex-con, but that spider tattoo was right there.  Either (A) he is an ex-con, or (B) he's a dumbass who doesn't realize what the tattoo means--or even worse, he actually thinks it's cool.

So what?  If he is an ex-con, maybe he's a guy who is trying to turn his life around by working an honest job?  I should support that, right?

Actually, yes.  I have had people with--ahem--colorful pasts repair things around my house.  Here's why I had a problem with this guy: he kept asking too many personal questions about how many of us live in the house, what kind of jobs we have, when we're home, etc.   Truth be told, these could have been just harmless questions he was asking while trying to be sociable i.e. trying to chat up a sale, but he crossed the line: before we had met, he had already peered inside my car, and examined my hospital i.d. badge laying on the driver's seat.

That was it: I didn't want him in my house.


Anonymous said...

When you mentioned the guy asking about your household.. that got creepy. As you say, they could just be innocent attempts at chat - but why take the risk.

Cassio said...

Spider web tattoos were popular with wwI and wwII Navy sailors who would tattoo this symbol to show their prolonged time out at sea. This is where its popularity in America grew.

However many ancient cultures who practice tattooing and body modifications have been using the spider web for centuries as a symbol of internal or external struggle. Where the harder you fight the "web" the more tangled in it you become.It's no surprise that this symbolism is very fitting for someone who spent time locked up.

You're obviously not knowledgeable on the subject so I can understand your generalization based on a couple prison shows you watched on TV. I understand your actions based on the man's behavior but not on his choice to adorn ink on his body.

Just know were not all criminals.