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Saturday, April 19, 2014, 4:24 a.m.
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Chocolate Pie or Snoopy?

By Tammy Keith

This article was published January 19, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

I mentioned to my older son that I might write about tattoos, and he looked alarmed.

“No,” he said.

I told him it wasn’t going to be negative; I find the whole thing intriguing.

Neither of my sons have tattoos (I’ve asked), neither does my husband, and neither do I.

My mother — a former high school teacher who always kept up with the styles — mentioned once that she “might” get one.

It was not a well-received comment at the dinner table (gasp, “Mom!” and a “look” from my dad), but I don’t think she was serious.

It’s just not something my generation did. When I was growing up, I didn’t have a single friend with a tattoo.

I don’t even remember knowing anyone with one.

I remember seeing a man in church once, his arm stretched out on the pew in front of us, with tattoos. Even a dancing girl. It was practically scandalous. I do believe he’d been in the military.

My dad, who was in the Army and went to Vietnam, does not have any tattoos, it occurred to me as I was thinking about writing this.

When I was a teenager, the only people I knew who had tattoos had either been in the military or prison.

I didn’t even know anyone in college with a tattoo. (Actually, I didn’t know anybody who’d been in prison, either. I led a sheltered life.)

Now, pretty much everyone seems to have a tattoo. I’m never surprised. It’s not “Do you have a tattoo?” It’s “What tattoos do you have?”

I don’t know the proper etiquette — is it OK to ask someone about them? I think I offended a woman who came into a fast-food restaurant. She was wearing shorts and had tattoos on her upper thighs. On her forearm, it had in cursive, “Don’t be like all the rest, my darling,” or something like that.

I was trying to read her arm as we filled up our cups, and when I asked about what her tattoo said, she seemed offended.

(If you’re going to have words printed all over your body, I think you should expect people to read you.)

An older friend of mine thought a girl at church had a beautiful blouse on — but she had tattoo “sleeves.”

A young friend of mine said that if I ask someone about their tattoos, I’m supposed to call it “ink.”

What about tats? Am I allowed to say that?

Speaking of ink, there’s a magazine called Inked all about tattoos and people with them. There are even TV shows about tattoos, good and bad.

Some of the artwork is beautiful.

My problem with getting one myself wouldn’t be the needle stuck in my skin — that doesn’t really bother me — it’s the decision-making and a fairly permanent one.

My husband asked one day, “If you were going to get a tattoo, what would you get?”

I really couldn’t come up with a good answer. My tastes change.

For years, I loved lions. I’m glad I don’t have a lion on my body.

I loved irises for a while. I’m over them. I prefer pansies now. Then, I was obsessed with Snoopy for years. I still love him, but I don’t want a cartoon character on me the rest of my life.

Depending on where I had it put, he might end up looking like a wrinkly Shar-Pei.

A former hairdresser of mine had a frog going up her foot. That’s probably a pretty good body part not to worry about aging and drooping.

Lots of men and women, especially ones who work out, have the barbed wire around their biceps. It looks pretty cool, but on me, it would be a dangling chain.

Many people get tattoos to honor someone in their lives. I’ve interviewed lots of people with them, including a guy with the cancer ribbon in honor of his grandmother and his girls’ names and birth dates.

I know someone with a small Tinker Bell on her back in memory of her grandmother, which is sweet.

I loved my Nano more than anything in the world, but I’m not sure what I’d get to represent her. A jar of Mentholatum that she used every night? A chocolate pie?

A woman I know likes Adam Levine, the lead singer of Maroon 5 and a judge on The Voice, one of my favorite TV shows.

He has tattoos covering his arms and some on his chest. He was chosen as People magazine’s Sexiest Man last year.

This woman’s young son knows she likes Adam, and he told her, “I’m going to get a tattoo that says, “I love Mommy.”

He can have it right up until he gets engaged, and then he’ll be visiting one of those tattoo-removal places.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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