Tattoos I Have Known

Published: Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 09:03 AM.

            I was sneaking a French fry from my granddaughter’s Happy Meal in Andalusia, Alabama, when I saw the tattoo.  It was high up on the forearm, about where I always wanted mine to be. The owner was an older gentleman, a farmer for sure. His overalls and work boots had the authentic stamp on them. He nodded as he passed, completely oblivious to the trip he was sending me on.

            Only two things kept me from getting a tattoo back in my high school days. They cost money and we didn’t have a tattoo parlor in town. Daddy might have been a third reason but the first two made the latter unnecessary!

            I tried. We’d take a ball point pen in study hall in the ninth grade and draw crossbones on our arms. The sinking ship was out because Mrs. Ingram wouldn’t let you take your shirt off in the library. And neither me, Hollis or Ricky Lynn could draw a snake or a snorting bull worth a hoot. We were reduced to coming up with slogans or cool sayings to dash across the skin.

            I experimented with “Eat My Dust”, “East of Eden” and “You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog”. But my favorite, then and now, was always “Momma, You’re The Most!”

            I inked on several that freshman year. But permanent ink ain’t too permanent on your left forearm, especially if you have football or basketball practice right after school. By the time we got home in the evening it would mostly be a faded mess. You couldn’t even impress your little brother, much less Bonnie, Ann Carol or Susie Cozart with convoluted bluish streaks across your arm! 

            Brewer said we might be able to get a tattoo in the back room of Ed Newball’s Recreation Center. I thought he was kidding. But he insisted that you could get anything you wanted back there. “Recreation Center” was a fancy name for pool hall. And I never went in the place for two reasons. It cost money to play and I wasn’t tough enough to hang around in there. My Daddy might have been a third reason but the first two……..

            A tattooed baseball bat in motion with a ball careening over the left field wall would have been special. Alfred E. Neuman’s oversized head with “What, Me Worry?” underneath was kicked around by all of us. A favorite coon dog barking up a tree would have been a winner. Flowers or two headed monsters were not so high up on our list. And inking on your best girlfriend’s name would have been very risky at our age.

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