It occurred to me the other day while waiting in line at a local Walmart, that tattoos have become the equivalent to cattle branding or maybe more accurately, the human bumper stickers of this day. What caused this thought to occur was a large, twentyish black woman who happened to be bent over a baby stroller directly in front of me. My gaze was ripped from the rag rack, with its chronicle of Brittany Hilton‘s latest rehab, to the posterior of the aforementioned young woman. As she adjusted some item of clothing on her little tike or tikette, I couldn’t help but notice the sizable mounds of flesh that were attempting to escape (nearly successfully) from her low cut jeans. Just above her large crack, which can only be described as, only slightly smaller than the New Madrid fault line, was written in script, Dashawn. Due to the dark color of her skin and darker shade of the ink, when I first glanced then stared at her “tat”, I thought it was oddly shaped body hair. Hey, a weird mustache could happen back there!
Now, being an old white racist (there, I saved you the trouble of having to say it yourself), I lept to the assumption that this Dashawn person must be this young woman’s “Baby Daddy”. If not, I am thinking that having another man’s name branded on your buttocks may be the subject of at least several interesting conversations with whomever her current squeeze might be. When she finally (and mercifully) stood up, Keneesha, as an even larger, older woman companion called her (or maybe they were discussing a small town in Wisconsin, I'm not really certain), also appeared to have another tattoo on the back of her neck. This one was a poorly drawn, flowery arrow pointing up, as if the back of her head held some special significance which it did, kind of. As I followed the arrow up, her head or rather her hair, was shaped into what I can only describe as a small lacquered pagoda, of sorts.
As with the creation of hair styles and names (when was the last time you met white guy named Plaxico or even Dashawn, for that matter?), black folks do seem to exhibit way more creativity and individuality in their skin art. It is just not as visible as it is on the palettes of their white counterparts. At the health club the other day, I kept an informal tab on the number of twenty-something whites guys with barbed wire tattooed around their biceps. I kept a separate tab on the number of thirty something whitish women named Brandy(and who in the heck wouldn't want to name there innocent, newborn baby daughter after an alcoholic drink-What, was Rumncoke or Wineinabox too common?), with some variation of a rose tattooed on their shoulders. I have sometimes mused that if I ever got a visible tattoo it might get the blue handicapped logo with its little wheelchairs connected in a chain around my sagging upper arm.
There must be, however, some sort of fascination that we humans have (no other mammals are this dumb) with putting painful, ink embedded drawings into the skin of our butts or other secret areas. Both of my sons have tattoos there, one a pair of lips, the other a plaid poodle. Prior to turning their butt skin into canvas, I cautioned them both about what their reception might be, in light of this artwork, if either of them ever did anything more than just visit a jail. I must confess, however, to even giving a posterior tattoo some consideration myself. After all, I had always admired those large, orange slow moving vehicle triangles…..