Last week while my kids played after school at the school playground, I had my first ever genuine hipster sighting. I’ve heard about and read about these peculiar creatures for a couple years now but had never actually seen one in real life, this despite living in what you’d call a large, modern, and demographically youthful metropolis. I guess I just don’t venture far enough out of the burbs, or my house for that matter, to see one of these bearded wonders in their natural habitat.
Men’s Capri Pants?
The fact that he was a fellow father caught me completely off guard. I’d assumed hipsters frequented pretentious coffee houses, vintage clothing resellers, and new, old-fashioned barbershops in trendy, gentrified neighbourhoods nearer the city core, not the playground of a common K-4 public school. Yet there he was, decked out in his finest autumn regalia: flat brimmed ball cap, Buddy Holly Ray-Ban shades, exquisitely trimmed full frontal beard, non-Converse Converse sneakers, and, wait for it…wait for it…it’s the waiting that makes it worthwhile…honest, it is…Capri pants. Yup! Men’s Capri pants, replete with 2” black elastic cuffs holding the pant legs in place just below the knee, exposing two gloriously tattooed calves.
I smirked. I shook my head. I desperately withheld laughter. There may have even been a brief moment where I fantasized about openly ridiculing the man before remembering that I once wore a white shirt with pink pinstripes, tight white jeans and pink suspenders so who the hell am I to judge.
As I watched this hipster watching his children in our small sea of suburbian blandness I was once again reminded of two things. One, as a society we may be having kids later in life but there are still many who do so in their twenties thereby making us late-breeders feel really old when a distinctly different generation is co-mingling around the schoolyard. And two, there is a damned good reason I don’t have a single, solitary tattooed blemish on my pasty, white bodily testament to modern, Caucasian sun-avoidance.
I’m Not A Trendsetter
Not having to even contemplate wearing men’s Capri pants is certainly a solid reason for me not having ink, but it’s not the primary one. No, the primary reason I have no ink is because I have absolutely zero faith in my mind being forever content with a permanent record of what I once thought was cool advertised on my body. Even if it were hidden by a shirt (or underwear) it would remain visible to me in the shower, staring at a mirror or just floating around in my head. I change my mind far too often. I haven’t the confidence to be a trendsetter and I’ve proven myself all too adept at adopting fads just as they become laughable. Shopping at Kmart most of your life will do this to you. Nope, I’m just not reliable when it comes to things of permanence and so it’s best to leave my body free of artwork.
This is not to say I dislike tattoos. I know many people, family and friends, who have them and these tattoos range from the simple to the complex, the tiny to the grandiose, and the silly to the solemn. Some of them look pretty cool while others I just don’t care for. I’ll even admit I still struggle with prejudices that tattoos bring out in me, regrettably. It’s hard not to see a proverbial tramp stamp and not think exactly that. The fact that these ornate brands are often emblazoned across the lower backs of my kids’ teachers or their friends’ mothers is certainly a neat trick of head-screwing but I’m adapting, or at least learning to keep my trap shut. Cultural conditioning is hard to override and I’ve still got a bit of that small town “get off my lawn” upbringing in me. But overall, hey, if you want ink, go for it. I, however, will remain pristine and tattoo free.
To emphasize the wisdom of my ink-free stance, here now, for your viewing pleasure, are the 7 tattoos I would undoubtedly have (and regret) right now if I hadn’t been so diligent in recognizing and accepting my personal weakness.
Two things epitomize my youth as a good Canadian kid; the Ballard years and Wayne Gretzky. Growing up a Leaf fan during the Harold Ballard years was a wholly unique experience. Leaf fans think they have it bad now. Good Lord, at least the current lack of success is derived from good ole ineptitude. In the Ballard years we had an owner willfully sabotaging his own team out of sheer spite; see trade – MacDonald, Lanny.
I also hated Wayne Gretzky. He wasn’t a Leaf. A small retirement fund worth of Gretzky rookie cards found their way to ruin in my bicycle spokes or were traded away for less glamorous, but in my estimation more worthy, hockey cards. Imagine then, the perfect storm resulting from the infamous trade of Lanny to Colorado bringing back Wilf Paiement to my beloved Leafs and his donning of number 99 in the blue and white. At the time I was obviously far too young for a tattoo, but by 18 I retained a smoldering ember of love for the Maple Leafs, Ballard was dead, and a Wendel Clark led resurgence in team fortunes would have had a different me embracing a booze-fueled, celebratory dare to permanently declare my loyalty to the Leafs. Paiement would be a no-brainer after the Gretzky high-stick screw job of 1993. A more sober me would have likely gone for Sittler. The wise me knew better than to do it at all.
2) Jake The Snake Roberts Tattoo
Oh the things we love when we’re young. They fuel some of our greatest memories and I was growing up in the prime of the first WWF WWE glory days. Be it Maple Leaf Wrestling or Saturday Night Main Events, I loved wrestling! Back then Wrestlemania was but an infant and my neighbour and I bought tickets to watch Wrestlemania 2 on a big screen at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium. If I was willing to spend my hard-earned allowance and babysitting money on that, you can only imagine what I’d have done to immortalize my very favourite wrestler.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts was and remains the greatest wrestler of all time. His look, his mic work, and his finishing move, the DDT, were awesome. If I’d been in charge of wrestling, Jake “The Snake” Roberts would have been champion for the entire decade of the eighties. You didn’t think my sons name was simply a coincidence, did you? In fact, embarrassing as it might be, this is probably one tattoo I’d have gotten that I might still proudly keep. Except that it likely would have been the size of my entire back.
Rock/Pop bands are some of the more dangerous tattoos people get. This is especially true if you’re tagging yourself with a new band rather than drawing from the annals of rock history. Every band you love at twelve seems a sure bet to be the next Rolling Stones when in fact they’re likely to be the next one hit wonder.
The first band I ever truly loved was Honeymoon Suite. There were many heated debates in Grade 7 between the Suite lovers and the Platinum Blonde lovers. In retrospect, it’s quite possible I was the lone defender of the former but it’s not like the latter ended up being such hot shit either! Anyway, a less wary me would undoubtedly have a Honeymoon Suite logo of some fashion on my body which would prompt untold numbers of questions from people wondering who the hell they were or, more likely, why did I have a hotel room designation tattooed on my shoulder.
Now we are delving into more serious potential tattoo regrets. Not only are we older by this time, but we are also closer to legally being able to get tattoos. One’s choice of beer is a huge deal in your teens as you delve into the underage drinking party scene. A most dangerous mix for a me with poorer instincts and habits.
My beer of choice back then was a Labatt brew made for the Ontario market only. It was cool and it was clear and it stayed right here, as the old tagline promised. It was also distinctly uncool and thus chosen by me for the unwillingness of others to drink it which made it safe from thieves at house parties. Simple as that. I had a wonderful Crystal hat that I wore religiously and would absolutely have adorned my body with the Crystal logo leaving many to wonder who this Crystal woman is/was.
I also went through a Nascar phase. What can I say? I was kind of a progressive redneck in my younger days. My introduction to Nascar came early and was relatively sparse to be honest. Back in the early eighties only the Daytona 500 and the Southern 500 were ever shown on network television so my exposure was limited but dammit I knew I loved them race cars going in circles.
The first driver I ever liked drove a blue and yellow Wrangler Jeans car. I had no idea of the rabid love/hate for certain drivers in the Winston Cup Series so I just cheered for whichever driver looked to be winning a lot or had the coolest paint scheme. I don’t remember what I saw that turned me into a fan but it was likely something daring and dirty. I was sold. Though I’d later have a brief dalliance with Tim Richmond in the #25 Folgers car, I remained and returned to worshipping the by then man in black, “The Intimidator, Dale Earnhardt in the #3GM Goodwrench car. One need only perform a Google search of ‘Nascar Tattoo’ to know what kind of trouble this fandom could have wrecked upon my body!
I’d like to think I’d have remained somewhat classy, but even a simple stylized number 3 would haunt me today.
If ever there was an exclamation point to punctuate my theory in this post, it has to be the thousands of people currently getting their Tasmanian Devil tattoos removed. I sympathize with these people because in a different world I would totally have a Taz tattoo. Or Marvin the Martian. Or the Road Runner. Probably all three. The point is, a Looney Tunes tattoo would be somewhere on my body. I had t-shirts with them on and I had ties with them on so it’s not much of a leap to acknowledge I’d have had skin with them on, too.
And finally, here is quite possibly the most striking example of how wise I am to avoid tattoos altogether. One need only look at the hat I had custom made back in university. That’s the actual hat. We were Earth Science students and obviously up to our eyebrows in rock nerdness at the time and decided we’d all get “Earth” hats with a personalized quip on the back. I actually spent money to put “Gneiss Ass Eh?” on a hat and willfully wore it around in public. Proudly, even. It remains a bonafide miracle that that isn’t tattooed in a fancy script font across the small of my back.
This, more than any of the above potential nightmares, is why I will go to my grave with only age spots and scars tarnishing my frumpy white pelt and not an tenth of an ounce of regret in doing so.