I went out to lunch at Ruth's Diner today with a group of friends. Our waitress had the beginnings of a full sleeve tattoo on her right arm.
It looked like it was going to be lovely. It was mostly black outlines of trees with fruits, flowers, birds and bees, quite artfully done. Only the bees were finished. They were two fat, glowing, orange and yellow honey bees. The colors weren't the muddy black, blue and red of most tattoos; the lines were clear and sharp and the colors vibrant. If the rest of the work is of the same quality as the portion already done, she will have a beautiful arm when it's complete.
But she will never be able to change her mind.
Many years ago, when I was young and foolish (not that I'm any wiser now, just older) and tattoos were still for drunken service men, one of my friends and her roommate got tattooed. My friend got the nicest tattoo I have ever seen. It was a lily in shades of peach and salmon with a twining, vining stem and leaves in cool sea green on her ankle. No dark colors at all and it was only about three inches high and an inch and a half wide. Over the years, it has faded to a delicate, nostalgic whisper on her ankle.
Her roommate, on the other hand, was feeling more flamboyant and had a rampant tiger in brilliant orange and black tattooed across the upper slope of her very generous right breast. It was truly dramatic and she loved shocking people by dropping the shoulder of her shirt and showing it off.
What she never thought of was age, weight gain and gravity.
The tiger is still rampant with curling tail and tongue, bared fangs and claws, but his black stripes have become rather fuzzy and purplish, his orange has faded. He has also become very, very pot bellied.
I look at all the tattooed kids these days and imagine thirty years added to their body art. I suspect their only comfort will be that they are not alone.