Friday, March 2, 2012

A Tale of Tattoos

I have nothing against ink; some tattoos are quite nice, some are works of art. I have two myself, one of which is a reminder of my skating days, a shooting star on my ankle for the last time I skated at the synchro national championships. It also serves as a reminder of my 4 year foray into the world of pyrotechnics, or “blowing shit up” as my friend Linda and I used to say. What started off as a lark turned into great fun, albeit a serious business. We would spend 4th of July, sometimes Memorial Day, and a few carnivals and fairs working 16 hour days setting up shows. These things don’t happen all at once. We would load various 2, 3, 5 inch shells into mortars after lugging the mortar racks and nailing them together. After spending hours of “plugging”, safety checks, chasing away the curious (who would always want to know how they could sign up because they loved to throw cherry bombs into 50 gallon drums of gas, yikes), a quick dinner and then the delicious anticipation as it got dark enough for show time.

We loved it even though it was dangerous, and we had a ball. There is nothing like watching fireworks from directly underneath, and since fire laws prohibit the public from being that close the experience has ruined fireworks displays for me forever. Now I am more interested in watching them come out of the tube, wary of shells that explode too low, or fail to launch. I am watching the pyrotechnicians. 

Of course there are some tattoos that can be categorized under “What Were They Thinking”. My new doctor commented on my “interesting” ink as he did a minor procedure last summer. This would be my "smilin' sun" tramp-stamp that my friends bought me for my 50th birthday because “nobody should turn 50 without a new tattoo!” Wrong. “I plead insanity”, I told my doctor. “I ran with a rough crowd then”. At least he got a laugh out of it, and hopefully if I am ever in a nursing home it will make someone smile if it is not too scary-looking by then.

The young lady at the coffee shop I frequent has a pretty good sized skull and cross bones right in the center of her sternum; she always wears low cut shirts so you can’t avoid it. Even if her breasts weren’t a huge, blinking neon sign calling attention to her chest, the artist distinguished this tattoo by placing a little pink “Hello Kitty” bow on the top of the skull. Nothing says dangerous like a little pink bow, right? ‘Cause this says “I’m may be cute, but I sure am poison". 

The brothers Daryl came in with a motor vehicle rollover. Two days ago. Dressed in cammo gear from head to toe and smelling pretty stinky, like old cigarettes, hockey equipment, fart, sour milk and cow manure, one of the Daryl’s had back pain. He had a giant rottweiler tattooed on his upper arm, I mean this thing was huge. New Cathy nailed it with a shot of Toradol before he went to x-ray. I knew it because, bizarrely, it had a small line of dried blood right between the eyes.  Direct hit.

Kate made a random comment about not ordering the flank steak at the local steakhouse. “It was really tough, and I’ve never had a bad steak there”

“Oh”, I said, reminded about another tattoo. “That’s because my patient the other night with the STEMI (heart attack), that 42 year old is the cook there. I guess he will be out of action for awhile”. His tattoo was a large jolly Grim Reaper on his upper arm. He had ignored his chest pain for 6 hours, as well as similar pain for the last 2 months, but he got the luck and did not get jumped by Mr. Dead.  Not that night.

Grim Reaper.  It can't be a talisman forever.