Does your ink reveal more than you think? | Jill Urbach

By Jill Urbach

Ah, mid-July. A welcome respite from the chill of “June-uary.” The days are reliably warm. Sandals can be worn consistently without socks. Swimsuits have been donned … and the lack of coverage displays just what sort of ink people are wearing these days.

Yes, tattoos. They reveal a lot about a person: One’s hobbies. One’s past loves. One’s confidence to accentuate a lovely feature that will someday be saggy and shriveled. One’s drunken binge in Mexico.

I always wonder which of the people who get tattoos will eventually regret them, whether it is in six months, after several years, or as soon as the hangover is past.

My best friend got a tattoo when she hit a rebellious stage while in seminary at the age of 25. Her tattoo was the scientific symbol for female inked onto her ankle where it could be easily seen when she wore her Birkenstocks (without socks.) It signified female empowerment to her.

She regretted it almost immediately because, as a single woman in Berkeley, Calif., she was chagrined to find that others mistook her tattoo’s meaning. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” as Seinfeld would say, but she was happy when the confusion died down after she married.

Research estimates that 50 percent of the 10 percent of the population who get tattoos eventually regret the decision and have them removed.

I assume that the desire to remove a tattoo depends largely on what is tattooed in the first place. Such as the aforementioned misunderstood symbol. Another often-regretted tattoo is a partner’s name. Personally, I would advise against it if there isn’t a marriage contract. And, with the divorce rate being as high as it is, even that is sketchy.

Celebrities also amuse me when they tattoo meaningful words like “love,” “peace” or “narcissist” in Chinese on their bodies. That’s fine, I suppose, if you are Chinese. But for most of them, the only Chinese they have in them is the occasional egg roll.

Even I have a tattoo. I got it while in a stupor, though not a drunken one. It was a history report stupor, the kind you get in middle school when the floor of your room is strewn with note cards that have been staring back at you for hours and you simply must get up for a snack to clear your brain.

As I stood, my freshly-sharpened pencil stood with me, sticking horizontally out of my knee.

Unfortunately, I don’t think a single dot means anything in Chinese. Except perhaps, “lead poisoning.”

Jill gives orca whale tattoos to tourists at Spring Street Landing throughout the summer.

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