Friday, 6 August 2010

The crone with the dragon tattoo

She was sitting a little ahead of me and across the aisle on the bus this morning. She leaned forward to search for something in her bag, so that her tank top shifted and three large psychedelic flowers appeared to burst from her armpit. I'm sure this wasn't the intended effect; they were evidently a small part of a major masterpiece in subcutaneous ink all across her back.

Over the past ten years, I've watched tattoos take over the bodies of more and more of the people I see in buses, in coffee shops, at the various functions marking my elder daughter's high school graduation. Every time I see an ink-ringed bicep, florid calves, or cartoon faces on the tops of someone's sandalled feet, I think to myself: "Oooh...there goes yet another person who never thinks s/he's ever going to get old..."

Years ago, a comedian on television got a big laugh from imagining the day when rest homes are full of people named Heather, Tiffany, and Jason. Imagine the fading ink-band (Celtic design, of course) sagging on a wasted arm, or the not-so-bright blossoms laced with veins, or the cartoon faces cracked and dry and next to bunions and yellow toe nails. My guess is that today's bearers of tattoos are blissfully convinced that they will never have the bad taste to actually age. Or maybe they're counting on the world to end.

I got off the bus at the same stop as the girl with the blooming armpit. She also had a diamond stud on the right side of her philtrum which caught the morning sun and made her appear to have a sparkling zit. She crossed the street, and I could see another piece of her back design peering out from under her shirt, just above her mild muffin-top. Hospital-gowns open at the back; some rest-home attendants are in for a treat in fifty years.


Ann ODyne said...

1. where did you get that photo of me!?

2. my nurse friend loathes implant patients and says that when they are flat on the slab at 89 with perky bosoms pointing skyward they are going to look really really silly.

3. wishing you an angst-free ride next time. X X

(oh! W V is St Sapleg - the patron saint of tattooless women)

Jean said...


My personal peeve are the stretched earlobes...It reminds me of that song from camp, "Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to and fro...". Ick.

Loved the post! Thanks for the laugh.

SOL's view said...

There is a cookware ad on tv here. It features a much older woman using wonderful new looking cookware and as she cooks, on her upper arm you can see an old tattoo, now faded and wrinkly.

The caption goes something like you'll never regret it, unlike some decisions... :)

Anonymous said...

I saw an older woman in a Macy's trying on shoes; she was at least in her 70s..and she had a small flower tattoo near her ankle. It didn't look recent, but I certainly can't say for sure.

I don't know how she feels about it, but it was absolutely the best thing I saw that entire day.

Old people with tattoos are not a bad thing. In fact they are probably the most interesting ones in their respective nursing homes.

I would like to think so anyways, because that will be me one day...unless the world ends first

Persephone said...

Ann O D, I tried to respond to your hilarious comment when it came in, but it's a cranky computer at the house-sit. I'm lucky, I guess, that I can even get the posts to post!

Needless to say, Jean, I wear increasingly-hard-to-get clip-ons. Although I suppose they're lobe-stretchers too.

Thank goodness there are a handful of witty ads in the world, Sol!

Hey, djarianna, it's your skin to do with what you will. Just so long as you're braced for what lies ahead. (It ain't pretty...)