Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Allure of the Tattoo

Some tattoos are worn to symbolize the individual, some to boast, label, or revere individual characteristics, circumstances, or people in the person's life. And I'd venture (though not speaking with expertise on the subject) some are even used by gangs.

But what is the allure? What do we find so intriguing about a faded anchor, entwined with a thorny rose, inscribed with the name, Lulu? Or any of the elaborate tribal bands that encircle biceps or calves, the Kanji symbols adorning the backs of necks, or the assortment of colorful spreads of flowery designs and mythical creatures spread shoulder-to-shoulder or hip-to-hip that we must inquire their origins from the owners?

In one of my current WIPS, my surfer turned P.I. sports quite a number of distinctive tats himself, because that is who he is, at least according to him. I never stopped to ask him why, though I know how and when, he got them. If I think about it, I've never inquired but simply admired quite a number of beautiful tattoos in my life, never questioning any owner . . . until now.

Now . . . well, last week to be more precise, when an eight year old little boy came crying off the school bus, rushed into the house—then into the bathroom to furiously scrub away at his face, neck, hands and arms with some funky concoction of rubbing alcohol and baby oil. When I inquired to the reason for his behavior, he simply replied through the tears that he didn't want to get kicked out of school and . . . "I think we need more baby oil."

Apparently, his four packages of child's vanity tattoos that he so proudly pulled from his Christmas stocking and later splayed over and across nearly every inch of available skin, trying in vain to impersonate a number of characters at once from the Anime, Naruto, didn't go over well with the teachers. He had violated "dress code," his teacher had told him. The tats had to go or he'd be suspended.

Cut the kid some slack, I thought. For Christ's sake, he's a child—a little boy ecstatic about a simple (and cheap) gift, who wanted nothing more than to enjoy it. They'd gotten my attention. My hackles were raised. I couldn't recall reading anything about tattoos in the school's dress code. I sat down with David and we looked it up.

Never mind that tattoos of any kind are not addressed in the code, and never mind that the code does not apply to Third graders or younger, the disclaimers were obvious and clear. "An item of dress, article of clothing, or accessory should not be deemed 'approved' simply because it is not listed herein" . . . and "The administration reserves the right to address inappropriate clothing on an individual basis in all grades."

According to the teacher, David was being disruptive, drawing attention to himself, distracting class.

Oh, the mystical allure of the tattoo . . . .

Such power to command every gaze in a room. I think next year, I'll have Santa put ten packages of those "apply-with-a-damp-rag" tats inside the boys' stockings.

Bryl R. Tyne is a wrangler by nature and a writer by choice, published with Noble Romance Publishing, Ravenous Romance, Dreamspinner Press, and STARbooks Press. You can find out more about Bryl at:

This post is X-posted to The Rainbow Studio, Defying Description, and Bryl R. Tyne's author blogs.

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