N.C. Harrison considers an acquaintance’s outrageous tattoo and contemplates taking a few risks of his own.
You never know what you’re going to see when you sign onto Facebook first thing in the morning. It’s usually pretty innocuous, of course–just a meme about Foul Bachelor Frog or a picture of your best friend forever’s many, many cats. If you’re lucky, Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark will have a new cocktail recipe up, or a new Katy Perry poster will have been magically placed there by the internet gnomes. Sometimes, once a week or so, you’ll hear why Barack Obama is the worst villain since Snidely Whiplash tied Penelope Pitstop to the railroad track or maybe learn about how the dudes from Duck Dynasty are being persecuted like no martyrs have been since the gruesome final day of Saint Lawrence of Rome. If it is basketball season, and good Lord it is basketball season, I will hear through one of my friends about the trials and tribulations of the Miami Heat. She seems to love and hate them all at once with furious passion.
This morning, however, I ran across something a little bit more unusual. An old friend’s boyfriend, in celebration of their first anniversary as a couple, had gone out and gotten her name blazoned across his chest as a tattoo. It now stood as her profile image and backdrop. The comments from her friends were along the lines of “You go girl!” “Hot ass tattoo!” and “Now you KNOW your man loves you!” The likes were as multitudinous as grains of sand by the seashore. On a purely artistic level, I can understand this; the lettering of the tattoo was absolutely amazing.
Being a reserved person, I found myself nonplussed and, as usual in such situations, kept my thoughts to myself. They mostly ran along the lines of… what are you doing to do, young man, when you two break up? Things often seem like a great idea in the grip of passion–or strong drink–but one can end up reflecting on them in the cold, clear light of morning and asking, “What the hell did I just do to myself?” Will he be doomed for the rest of his life to date only women who share my friend’s name? Or will he append the letters S-U-X to it, in Comic Sans, when the inevitable happens? The most elegant option, in my opinion, would be for him to proclaim in the future that he has pledged his allegiance to Vlad Dracula’s last living female descendant who is also blessed with the same lovely Christian name as my friend.
I think what impresses me and frightens me about these people is how different their worldview is from mine, how they wear their hearts naked and bleeding on their sleeves and live their lives totally on the edge. When I last celebrated a one year anniversary with a young woman, we went to see a movie, cuddled in the theater, ate pizza and then watched Adventure Time sitting on the couch in her apartment. It was pretty boring because we were pretty boring folks, as the rice cooker and set of ink pens we got each other for Christmas that year will attest.
I usually don’t mind this but I must admit a certain level of envy for the way these gleaming youth conduct their business. I simply cannot live my life at this level of intensity and would burn out swiftly if I tried. I have been amply compensated in other ways, I like to think. I have been able to concentrate on the big picture, make long-term plans and carry out major projects by behaving in a sensible, down to earth fashion. I have completed two novellas and am hard at work on my first actual, full-length novel. I am close, so close, to gaining my license as a family therapist and entering private practice so that I can begin to really help people.
But sometimes I find myself wondering… what would it be like if I took a chance? I will be twenty-eight in two weeks and will have a birthday dinner with my family at one of my favorite restaurants. I will have the opportunity that night, I hope, to hold another long conversation with my favorite waitress in the world, a young lady with bright blue eyes and a quote from King Solomon tattooed on her wrist in Hebrew and a mantra wound around her collarbones in Sanskrit. Perhaps if I’m feeling brave enough and inspired enough to live on the edge by my friend’s boyfriend and his ill-considered tattoo, I will finally take the plunge and ask this girl out.
Or maybe–and this is far more likely–I’ll just order some curried chicken and chorizo on my pizza. This may not exactly be pushing the envelope quite as much as I would like to, given where I am taking my inspiration from, but it does seem pretty realistic in a lot of ways. Besides, I’m pretty sure my gastrointestinal tract will consider it close enough to living dangerously to count.